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The Progress Report: Renney's the Man

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Head Coach Tom Renney (Photo by Andy Devlin / EOHC)

Guided by a promotion and the knowledge that the organization was undergoing a rebuilding process, the promise of a new opportunity presented some interesting challenges for Tom Renney.

Now having passed the midway point of the 2010-11 season, Renney’s Oilers have established a 14-25-7 record and the unfortunate grasp of the basement position in the NHL’s Western Conference standings.

Although the losses have accumulated, Renney’s upbeat and overall positive attitude has helped to quell the negative vibes that surrounded the team amidst a 30th place finish last year.

While the position in the standings has only improved marginally from a year ago, the makeup of the group has helped to usher in a new dynamic of Oilers hockey in Edmonton.

This is a different team; and a new man is at the helm to help them grow.

With a lineup that features several prominent rookie figures, the need for patience is brought to the forefront. Renney has shown excellent tolerance in the development of his young stars, while still pushing them to improve on a daily basis.

After all, the future of the franchise relies heavily on the growth and maturation of these young athletes. It’s a process that requires the utmost professionalism and ability to communicate; qualities that are embodied in the personality of Edmonton’s head coach.

While most are familiar with Renney’s comments to the media, his close connection and hands-on approach to coaching is best described through his tireless practice habits. Ralph Krueger, Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger are often involved with the general direction of a typical practice, but Renney’s approach is more involved on an individual level than many would expect.

With the opportunity to develop his team into a contender someday soon, Renney brings a unique quality of two-way communication that opens the lines between player and coach. His players are more than willing to listen, which helps improve both sides in a business that demands constant development.

In most NHL organizations, the sight of seeing a coach take some one-on-one time with a player during practice wouldn’t be an unusual sight. Renney, however, has daily visits that appear to cover a variety of topics.

Sometimes the visits are geared towards teaching and development; other times, a simple discussion to lighten the mood. In any case, the example of Renney’s relationship with his players goes well beyond the direction at practice and the intense emotion at game-time.  Of equal importance to the development of an NHL squad, this is the growth of a young family.

With Pat Quinn at the helm last season, many didn’t know what to expect out of Renney as the new era began. With the ever-increasing knowledge of his vibrant skill-set on the bench, he’s proving himself as a player’s coach that deeply desires a return to that contender status.

It’s a sentiment shared loudly across Oil Country.

Preparation is the name of the game. Several hours before the lights come up at Rexall Place, Renney enters the building to continue his ongoing laundry list. Practice plans, reviewing game tape and pre-scouting the team’s next opponent are just a few of the items that are explored daily before the Oilers take to the ice.

And when they do, Renney is usually the first to carve into the freshly manicured ice and inaugurate the proceedings.

Especially of late given the team’s recent struggle with injuries, Renney has extended his one-on-one time with players on the mend. His custom-designed examination of a player’s physical fitness following an injury is carried out daily, 30-minutes prior to the start of practice. As best he can, Renney stays in tune with his athletes, both mentally and physically, as the growth process continues.

While the obvious need for high-end talent is required, so too is the right form of leadership that guides them through the grind of an 82-game schedule. Along with his staff, Head Coach Tom Renney is proving that he’s right man in charge.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |
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