EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers added some veteran leadership to their bench Tuesday, naming Pat Quinn their new head coach.
Quinn has been out of the league since being fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs following the 2005-06 season.
The 66-year-old led the Canadian national team to gold at the world junior championship in Ottawa earlier this year.
“If I think of leadership, I think of Pat,” Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said during a news conference. “If I think of the way you want to be treated as a player, I think of someone like Pat Quinn. If I think of someone who sets and example morally for an organization of how to go forward, I think of a man like Pat Quinn.”
The Oilers have also named former Rangers coach Tom Renney associate coach and retained longtime Oiler Kelly Buchberger on staff.
The Oilers will be the fifth NHL team coached by Quinn, who succeeds the fired Craig MacTavish. The two-time NHL coach of the year has 657 career wins in 1,318 games behind the bench with Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto.
“I’m very happy for this opportunity,” said Quinn. “Hockey has been my life and I can’t think of a better place to continue to work in what I consider to be the greatest job that a man can have.”
Tambellini said the team needed a fresh start behind the bench when he fired MacTavish on April 15.
Tambellini is familiar with both Quinn and Renney from their days together in Vancouver with the Canucks. Quinn is a former GM and coach of the club while Renney got his first head coaching job there in 1996. He replaced Quinn, who had stepped out of the GM’s office to fill in for the fired Rick Ley at the end of the previous season. Before joining the Oilers last summer, Tambellini spent several years in Vancouver’s front office.
The Oilers had expected to challenge for the top of the Northwest Division this season but instead slid to 11th in the Western Conference with a record of 38-35-9 for a total of 85 points.
“The tradition is very, very important to this organization,” said Quinn. “But I’m looking to the future obviously … We’re here to help this team win.”
It was the fifth time in the last seven seasons that they failed to reach the post-season. The notable exception was in 2006 when the Oilers lost to Carolina in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
“We think there’s talent there,” Quinn said. “Perhaps it didn’t get to be a good team in the past couple, three years but we’re hopefully here to make those next steps.”
The team was occasionally booed off the ice at Rexall Place, finishing with a poor 18-17-6 home record — sixth worst in the NHL.
The power play was an anemic 23rd in the league. Penalty killing was 27th.
Front-line players Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff recorded fewer points than the previous season while promising youngsters Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson failed to capitalize on the promise of 2008-09.