• If the Titanic was painted more nicely, maybe it would have survived the iceberg

    by  • July 26, 2011 • Post, Uncategorized • 19 Comments

    I listened to Tom Renney’s chat with Bob Stauffer today (and, see how damned easy it is Dave Fuller, am going to borrow part of a transcript from David Staples. For reasons I’m finding difficult to understand, I hate listening to the guy. I don’t think it’s because he’s absurdly positive; Ian Holloway is pretty much my favourite managerial/coaching type figure ever and he’s an incredibly postiive fellow. I’m starting to suspect that it’s because so much of what he says is just transparently, as the English would say, utter bollocks.

    I mentioned part way through last season when watching Oil Change that Renney didn’t seem genuine to me. The proliferation of people like him is the reason that Scott Adams doesn’t really have to work for a living. When he lights into the Oilers or tries to pump them up, it just sounds fake. Real coaching rage looks more like this:

    I’ll run this fucking football club until I’m told otherwise by the fucking circus upstairs. If you come back at me, you’ll be off the field and you’ll be following Terry down the road…(turns to Terry) You come and see me tomorrow, you’ve got a fortnight’s notice because that performance is the straw that broke the camel’s back…that is the fucking straw that broke the camel’s back…

    If I’m going to take abuse for a bunch of cockroaches…I’ll take abuse by doing it my way. And that is fucking conformity, not fucking non-conformity. So you, you little cunt, when I tell you to do something and you, you fucking big cunt, when I tell you to do something, do it. And if you come back at me, we’ll have a fucking right sort out, hear? Alright, and you can pair up if you like up and you can fucking pick someone else to go up there and you can bring your fucking dinner. Because by the time I’m fucking finished with you, you’ll fucking need it. Do you fucking hear what I’m saying or not? (Turns to Terry) You see me in the morning

    Maybe John Sitton said crazy stuff all the time too, I don’t know, but that rage just seemed utterly genuine. It didn’t feel like a guy who’d been through courses put on by HR on how a coach should behave. The Oilers would probably have been better off if Renney fired a few players mid-game during the season.

    Anyway – bit of a ramble there – back to my point. Renney was asked by Stauffer about Nikolai Khabibulin bouncing back. (To Stauffer’s credit, he prefaced the question by pointing out that Khabby’s save percentage worked out to 32 goals below average.) After kind of hemming and hawing a bit, Renney threw out this:

    “We had 30+ one-goal games last year, losing well over half of those. There’s some points there for the taking, that had we been a better team in front of our goaltender and maybe a big save here or there more, the season changes, we play with more confidence, we’re that much closer to the hunt.

    It’s delusional. If the Oilers had won every one goal game they played last season (and they didn’t play very many, because they were so horrible), they would have missed the playoffs by three points. Now, maybe hockey players are stupid, maybe they all tell themselves this stuff, but it just grates to hear it said out loud.

    I don’t expect Renney to say things like “We’re likely to be horrible again next year” but I’m baffled by statements like the one above. Does he believe it? Seems unlikely. Of course, it’s worse if he does and if that informs his thinking about where the team has to go. Hard to imagine MacT saying something similar.


    19 Responses to If the Titanic was painted more nicely, maybe it would have survived the iceberg

    1. Trentent
      July 26, 2011 at

      This could be hockey culture. I didn’t see Dan Bylsma snap at any point of the HBO series either. Though, I did see Bruce Boudreau go nuts several times. Personally, I liked Bylsma’s approach better than Boudreau’s.

      MacT was positive too, but in a more deadpan way (e.g., Ulanov’s a dangerous player… at both ends of the ice). I liked the way MacT presented his thoughts because he could articulate it well without sounding like a jackass.

      In the end though, the point I’m taking away from this post is the lack of reality regarding the team. I would think this starts top down, or there’s such a culture of “don’t let the players hate this team” that such awkward positivity cannot be avoided.

    2. Coach Pb
      July 27, 2011 at

      Lack of honesty and mud-covered clarity is an organizational trait.

    3. JonB
      July 27, 2011 at

      Coaching is so incredibly overated in hockey.

      If watching Bruce Boudreau rant and rave like some half crazy day person who just had his day pass revoked didn’t prove how little there is to being a bench captain in the NHL, I’m not sure what will.

      He rambles around the room and spits and curses…genius. What was funny was how completely unresponsive his players seemed.

    4. godot10
      July 27, 2011 at

      What million dollar athlete is going to believe an “authentic” rant. All an “authentic” rant means is that your coach is a lunatic, and doesn’t understand that it is just supposed to be kabuki theatre. With million dollar athletes, a coach can no longer be a lunatic.

      When Lowe let Burke get under his skin, and when MacT went nuclear on Penner, it was just a sign that they had lost the plot, and were burnt out and done.

      So Renney’s “non-authentic” rant shows the meta-understanding of coaching. Yeah you guys sucked last period. This is the point where I’m supposed to insult your manhood, challenge your courage. So you go through the theatre to make the point. But a real lunatic rant is no way to coach a million dollar athlete. Nobody with a brain is going to play for a lunatic anymore. The player is no longer a slave.

      A real lunatic rant, and the players will just think you are really crazy and will tune you out.

    5. dawgbone
      July 27, 2011 at

      godot, they’ll tune you out if you go all ape shit on them, but they listen intently when you shovel bullshit into their lap?

    6. simonp
      July 27, 2011 at

      If you don’t like the guy then just come out any say it. Don’t stand behind the “he doesn’t seem genuine or authentic” line. Don’t you think it would be a lot easier for him (last year of his contract) to have come out an say…we are likely to be horrible again…and secure another three year deal? He is putting the pressure on himself with statements like that and I think there is something to be said for that. Do you think he is happy finishing in 30th place 2 years in a row? The man wants to win.

    7. Quain
      July 27, 2011 at

      Meta-understanding. Really?

    8. Tyler Dellow
      July 27, 2011 at

      I don’t think Renney’s in the last year of his deal is he?

      As for coming out and saying I don’t like Renney…I’m not sure if I do or not. I do know that I don’t believe much of what he says and he says it with such zeal that I get uncomfortable.

    9. simonp
      July 27, 2011 at

      I think he is in the last year of his deal.

      I understand you feeling uncomfortable with his “zeal” and I appreciate you acknowledging that as your experience. In my opinion(and experience)I really like the passion… and believe it is coming from a very real and authentic place.

    10. Mark Loewen
      July 27, 2011 at

      I’m not sure if his integrity needs to be questioned because he espouses on the side of positive thinking? We all pretty much know the job of coach in all pro leagues is now a fusion of teacher and psychologist. Renney seems to lean towards the power of positive thinking. The question is can he pull out a good ole fashion ass kicking when the needs arises? I get the impression that he is being very methodical in his approach? And perhaps that’s being misconstrued as seeming less then genuine?

    11. RiversQ
      July 27, 2011 at

      Renney definitely has a really bad case of management-speak. I can’t take his Oil Change speeches seriously and I read that quote about if plays poorly it would “change the dynamic”. Who could possibly take that guy seriously?

    12. baleener
      July 27, 2011 at

      Your explanation for why you hate Renney’s statement so much doesn’t make any sense. He’s not being genuine? Authentic? Either pick a statement that reflects that a bit better or just stop being so cynical against everything to do with Oilers management.

      Renney’s statement is optimistic in a perfectly reasonable way. He didn’t say that if they had won every one goal game that they would have been in the playoffs as you implied. He said that when you win one goal games you get more confidence and that leads to more wins.

      Seems like a perfectly authentic, optimistic statement to me.
      No more “feelings”, Dellow. Give us statistically verifiable facts. ;)

    13. July 28, 2011 at

      Beautiful video. Sitton’s voice reminds me alot of Danny the drug dealer in Withnail & I – that calm, cool mumble, barely containing the subtle anger or lunacy bubbling undernbeath the surface (and Tyler, if you’ve yet to see Withnail & I, you need to do so immediately).

      Renney is a tool. More specifically, he’s a huge poser, faker, wannabe intellectual who attempts to use diction as a false means to sound articulate. While he’s probably smarter than most NHL coaches, most of the time he just sounds like an asshole. I remember when he was with the Rangers he repeatedly used “paradigm” when he meant “paradox.” Neither of those words probably needs to be in a coach’s lexicon, but if you’re going to use them, good lord, get them right.

      I think it was in Gare Joyce’s book on scouting – which despite or maybe because of his relatively unfettered access, does little more than further the terrible, antiquated myths of hockey-speak and north american hockey-culture – where scouts talk about disliking Renney because he was the type of guy who would wear silk scarves at the rink. While I’m sure I would detest most of those types of scouts, that sort of dislike and distrust of noblesse oblige seems spot on.

      All that said, I think Renney is a good coach. He did a great job with the Rangers, had them playing a very effective passive, defensive system which is absolutely the easiest way to success in the NHL today, he played players with the right players, and was all up on the other teams’ tactics and tendencies. (Notwithstanding the asinine and absurd move of playing Jagr on the PK at the end of a game 1 rout against the Devils where Jagr busted his elbow trying to throw a hit and the series was lost then and there). I actually would like to see Renney coach the Caps, his adherence to structure and tactics would be the perfect antidote to Boudreau’s nonsensical, fake tough guy bbq-slathered outrage. Renney would also be a big time player’s coach so OV and Green wouldn’t revolt and try to jump ship off of Dry Island. And Renney would love Semin, he would love the type of player he is, love his smart, passive game, and would use Semin a ton. And hockey enjoyment is all about Semin.

    14. Vic Ferrari
      July 28, 2011 at

      Great video, I’d never heard of John Sitton before.

      A quick Internet search shows he’s driving a black cab in London now. Sounds like a deeply unhappy guy. A shame.

      The reference to the management of his club as clowns, this on a Channel 4 documentary … that was the end of him, it appears. He couldn’t get a job anywhere in English football after that.

      I mean Souray is one of the better defensemen in the NHL, and he struggled to find work because of a similar crime. So a coach/manager has no hope in similar circumstance.

      Love the cockney accent, he’s from Hackney according to Wiki. Apparently the ‘Big C’ he was talking about was a player named Terry Howard, who played the rest of his career with the nickname ‘Get-Yer-Dinner’.

      Great stuff, thanks for the link Tyler, it brought back some memories. East Londoners kill me.

    15. Blaine
      July 29, 2011 at


      After sacking defender and fan favourite Terry Howard on camera in the dressing room, Sitton addressed two other players and offered to fight them, shouting:

      “You, you little cunt, when I tell you to do something, and you, you fucking big cunt, when I tell you to do something, do it. And if you come back at me, we’ll have a fucking right sort-out in here. All right? And you can pair up if you like, and you can fucking pick someone else to help you, and you can bring your fucking dinner. ‘Cos by the time I’ve finished with you, you’ll fucking need it.”[1]

      Orient went on to lose the match 1–0, and after winning only one of the next 15 games, both Sitton and Turner were sacked two months later. Orient won just seven of 47 games under the pair.

    16. Blaine
      July 29, 2011 at

      Makes for great TV, but didn’t seem to help the club win anything.

    17. Dennis
      August 3, 2011 at

      This thread’s probably dead now but I’ll throw in a comment just for the fuck of it.

      Not sure who was first between me and Ty in the conclusion that Renney says nothing but both of us – along with Cam and whomever else – is right.

      Maybe we were spoiled by MacT’s work but I never find anything to take from Renney’s comments and I get the feeling that he’s just talking for the sake of it.

    18. DJ
      August 12, 2011 at

      “This thread’s probably dead now but I’ll throw in a comment just for the fuck of it”

      ” I get the feeling that he’s just talking for the sake of it.”

      I found this funny

    19. Tbone
      August 17, 2011 at

      Yeah, this guy’s a real worldbeater…Orient won just seven of 47 games under his tenure – a true hero! Bullocks…this guy’s an idiot. How can you respect a dude like that? Calls his players cunts…he sounds like his dad was a tad bit hard on little Johnny. Renney has the right tact – give him time and this team will shine.

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