DETROIT – The Wings hope to have found a fix to their power play woes from last season.
On Thursday, Detroit hired assistant coach Tom Renney to replace Jeff Blashill , who was named last week as the coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Renney’s Edmonton Oilers had the third-best power play in the league last season, while the Wings PP units were ranked 22nd.
“The power play in Edmonton last year was (one of) the best in the league,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We look to him to give us a lot of different opinions. In Detroit it’s never been about whose idea it is, it’s about the best idea to help us win. With him and Bill Peters, we have a great staff to support our players.
“He knows how to talk to people and deal with them,” Babcock continued. “He’ll bring thoughts from different organizations that we can learn from. I went through all my candidates, and in the end, Tom Renney, without question, was the best man for the job.”
Renney, 57, spent three seasons with the Oilers, the last two as head coach.
In total, Renney compiled a 57-85-22 record over two seasons as the bench boss of the young Edmonton squad.
“The expectations are probably the biggest difference right now,” said Renney, who signed a three-year deal. “Coaching in Edmonton you go in with the expectations of winning, but also with the realization of sometimes you’re just not going to. It was a rebuild, trying to redefine a team and playing with a younger lineup. Never was the work habit lost. There is a great group of people there.”
The Oilers have had the No. 1 pick in the NHL Entry Draft each of the last three seasons.
“Detroit is the standard bearer in terms of how the game gets played at the highest level, how it gets coached and how it gets managed,” Renney said. “Expectations are high in Detroit as they should be and I know as an organization certainly they don’t want it to be the other way.
“That sets you up for failure for sure, but what impresses me most about the Detroit Red Wings is seldom do they,” Renney added. “If they have a tough season, tough stretch, there are usually extenuating circumstances for that.”
En route to setting an NHL record with 23 straight wins on home ice last season, the Wings extended their streak of reaching the playoffs to 21 straight seasons.
“The biggest difference with Edmonton now and the kids getting a little older is they expect to be a playoff team,” Renney said. “I know you don’t need to go there with the Detroit Red Wings because that’s a foregone conclusion.”
Babcock connected Renney last week about the possibility of taking the job, but they didn’t talk much about job responsibilities or Xs and Os.
“Without having a meeting with Mike and Billy it’s hard to say what the roles and responsibilities will be at this time,” Renney said. “Mike’s one of the best leaders in sports as far as I’m concerned. I know we’ll be in the right positions we should be in order to help the team win.”
Renney, who had three consecutive 40 win seasons while the head coach of the New York Rangers, knows Babcock well through Hockey Canada and coaching with him at the World Championships in 2004.
“Has a wealth of experience,” Babcock said. “He knows how to talk to players, did an unbelievable job with (Jaromír) Jagr (in New York).”
Renney comes to a Wings team that was decimated on the blue line this offseason, losing two top-four defensemen in Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade).
They also lost out on the bidding for defenseman Ryan Suter, along with forward Zach Parise.
“Every year you’re behind the bench you have to coach up for whatever reasons or whatever the dynamic might be,” Renney said. “We lost a couple of very good defensemen and that just provides an opportunity for someone to step up and show their wares. With that being said, as a coaching staff we have to make sure to maximize everyone’s potential. In order to do that we have to coach hard and if we can and we can stay relatively healthy season there is no reason why the Red Wings can’t continue to win and contend.”
Renney likes to coach an attack style of game and doesn’t like where the game seems to be headed.
“What has me most concerned is how much we stand at the far blue line and wait for the opponent to come at us,” Renney said. “With that being said, I do like the puck and if I’m giving it up I’m doing my best to get it back quickly with a certain level of exuberance. I like to make sure we play the game with speed and with hockey sense, foot speed, checking speed and gap speed without a doubt. To me speed and quickness is essential to work advantages into your game with or without the puck.”