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MacTavish relieved of duties as Oilers head coach

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TSN.ca Staff
4/15/2009 10:39:29 PM
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After eight seasons behind the Edmonton Oilers' bench and three straight seasons without a playoff berth, Craig MacTavish has been relieved of his duties as head coach.

"We both agree that it is time for a change," said Oilers' general manager Steve Tambellini at a news conference in Edmonton on Wednesday.

MacTavish led the team to a disappointing 38-35-9 record this season as the Oilers finished 11th in the Western Conference.

The news comes just weeks after team owner Darryl Katz sent a text message to Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer during a pre-game show on April 2 that stated, "MacT is not going anywhere."

MacTavish is leaving the organization entirely and the search begins immediately for his replacement The Oilers will consider all options including both experienced NHL coaches and younger coaches.

After finishing ninth in the conference last season, the Oilers came into this campaign with high hopes that their young talent would propel them to higher levels.

But a lack of scoring, inconsistent goaltending and a difficult schedule in the early going set the club back this season.

"This is the right thing for Craig, and the right thing for the Edmonton Oilers," Tambellini added. "This does not absolve the players and their performance, or lack thereof."

Winger Ales Hemsky led the team in scoring with 66 points, followed by defencemen Sheldon Souray and forward Shawn Horcoff - who each had 53 points. Nowhere among the leaders were youngsters Sam Gagner (41 points), Andrew Cogliano (38 points) or Dustin Penner (37 points) - three players considered as the future of the franchise.

Penner, who signed a five-year, $21.25 million contract before the 2007-08 season, drew the ire of MacTavish in November and was a healthy scratch on several occasions.

"MacTavish felt it was time to move on in the best interests of the organization," Oilers president Kevin Lowe told TSN. "He really felt he couldn't do any more with the group.''

Defenceman Steve Staios said the writing was on the wall.

"I'm not really that surprised because of where we've been the last few years," he told THE CANADIAN PRESS. "This is probably just the start."

The Oilers also began the season rotating goaltenders Dwayne Roloson, Mathieu Garon and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers before settling on Roloson for the second half of the season.

The schedule didn't do the Oilers any favours early on, with the team playing 16 of its first 23 games on the road. Ironically, the Oilers finished the year with a better record on the road, 20-18-3, than they did at home, 18-17-6.

In 2005-06, MacTavish led the Oilers to their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1990 as Edmonton fell in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Craig MacTavish (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
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