The Mac-T era is over in the City of Champions.
After failing to get his team into the playoffs for the last three years, Craig MacTavish will no longer be head coach of the Edmonton Oilers after a “mutual agreement” was made with the organization, said Oilers GM Steve Tambellini.
“This is the right thing for Craig and the right thing for the Oilers at this point,” said Tambellini.
“We need a new voice, we need a new start, we need new expectations, we need discipline and it’s time to look forward.”
The Oilers finished with a record of 38-35-9 this season, good enough for 11th spot in the Western Conference, but far short of a berth in the playoffs.
But MacTavish was the first coach to take the Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals since 1990, although it ended with a seventh game loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. It was the team’s last playoff appearance.
MacTavish was NHL’s third-longest- serving coach. He notched a career record of 301-252-103 in his eight-year tenure with the copper and blue.
“I know he is a quality coach and I know he is going to be successful, and I thank him for his commitment to be a true Oiler,” said Tambellini during a hastily assembled press conference yesterday.
“He gave everything that he possibly could to make this team better, but we both agree that it is time for a change.”
Tambellini warned more changes are in store over the next few months to bring new faces into the team’s dressing room and ditch players who lack emotion on the ice.
“We have to find a way to get better, not status quo,” said Tambellini. “I hope the (players) feel some accountability.”
Oilers defenceman Steve Staios said he wasn’t surprised by the move, and expects more changes are on the way.
“With the success that we’ve had over the last few years, you know there’s going to be changes and it’s usually the coach that goes first,” Staios said.
“I’m not really that surprised considering where we’ve been in the last few years and there will be more changes to follow. It’s just part of the business.”