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.