Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oilers Forced Into Press Release?

Yesterday I wrote a pretty harsh piece on the way the firing of Kevin Prendergast and subsequent announcement was handled by the organization. After writing it and then guesting on Edmonton Sports Night Live with Corey Graham and Wil Fraser I had a chance to go online a sift through the piles of reaction to the news.

Some of it made me take a step back and look at things again.

It was interesting to read that a time line of events may show that the Oilers only released their announcement because the news was about to be broken by Edmonton Journal writer John MacKinnon. Shortly after Mackinnon posted on Twitter that he'd learned of the firing (about 4:40 pm), the Oilers sent out their official notice to the media and their news subscribers (mine arrived at 4:50 pm).

I have to admit that in light of the time line of events (and I could give credit to a couple local media guys but I'll only acknowledge Dan Tencer publicly because our "conversation" was done that way) I feel like I should let the club off the hook a bit.

If it's true that they were basically forced into sending out their press release in response to the impending Journal story, then it's tough for me to criticize them for not being able to honor Prendergast's request of a few days grace. It was suggested to me last night that expecting the news of the firing not to leak out before Saturday (when Prendergast would have been able to meet with family) was highly unrealistic. Obviously that's been proven accurate since it didn't stay secret for even 24 hours.

So in fairness to the Oilers: it wasn't classless, bush league or embarrassing on their part that the news came out - it was simply unfortunate for all parties involved.

Now, that's just in regards to the way the announcement was handled. I still find the idea of an employee of 20 years being canned in the lobby of a hotel to be of poor tact.

Furthermore, giving Prendergast a courtesy call to inform him that the release was about to be issued because the Journal had the story, was not an obligation for the team but I'm sure that it would have been appreciated. It would have allowed for him to contact his vacationing family and tell them instead of having them learn of it from a third party.

Life will go on and like I said yesterday, I'm sure Prendergast is just the first of a few current employees who will not be back with franchise for next season. If the plight of the Falcons was the biggest reason for Prendergast's dismissal, what does that mean for the future of AHL head coach Rob Daum? I personally like Rob a lot but if a roster depleted due to NHL recalls and AHL injuries cost the one guy his job, does the coach escape the axe? I hope Daum is given more time and that his roster in Oklahoma City is able to have some stability and health.

I don't know anyone who predicted at the start of last season that the Falcons would miss the playoffs. It was pretty widely accepted that Prendergast had done a solid job of finding AHL veteran talent for the farm team last summer/fall but as I've said in the past - the mass injuries and recalls of 2009-10 would have ended in the same result for any coach or AHL GM. Finding quality recruits in the middle of the season is near impossible and even bringing in Anaheim's extra minor league goalie didn't help the Falcons.

After three years of disastrous results in Springfield you should expect change but for me, taking everything into consideration, I would have understood if Prendergast was given another chance. He wasn't but I hope Rob Daum will get that opportunity next season in Oklahoma City.

No comments: