The Edmonton Oilers announced on Tuesday that Tom Renney will take over as head coach, with Pat Quinn to be moved into the position of senior hockey adviser.
Quinn, 67, returned to NHL coaching after an absence of more than three years, but his one season behind the Edmonton bench saw the injury-riddled team stagger to an NHL-worst 27-47-8 record.
"It goes without saying how valuable Pat Quinn is to our organization, and we will continue to rely heavily on Pat's experience as we move forward with rebuilding this franchise," Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini said in a statement.
"Pat will make a strong contribution throughout our system — no question."
Renney, 55, was brought in at the same time as Quinn as an associate coach. Renney has 428 games of NHL coaching experience with Vancouver and the New York Rangers.
"Tom Renney's track record not only speaks for itself, but it also speaks volumes about what type of person he is," said Tambellini of the 10th head coach in franchise history. "He is a tireless worker who cares about this organization."
Tambellini said there had always been a succession plan that would see Renney take over for Quinn.
But he admitted during a news conference in Edmonton that the plan had been accelerated, and Quinn's position is a newly created one.
"We spoke last year about bringing these two men in with a wealth of experience in winning, teaching, credibility and leadership," Tambellini said. "When you look at a plan that was in place, when I discussed with Pat before he came here as far as a succession plan, the idea, for me, was that after year two, I would ask him to take this position as senior hockey adviser."
But Tambellini said after such a disappointing season, he decided make the change now.
"Obviously, with what happened this year, in regard to the depth of our organization, the fact that we're rebuilding the Oilers, the fact that we're going to be young, it made sense to me over the last couple of months when I'd been thinking about this, and how we want to do this, our plan is basically being accelerated by one year," said Tambellini.
Quinn said he was surprised by the move.
"It's not my decision," Quinn said on a conference call from Toronto. "I had been looking forward to coaching the team next year. A decision was made. They'll have a place for me to continue to help them make their changes, which I will move to."
And he's not considering it a promotion.
"Is it a promotion? I'd say not," said Quinn. "My career has been coaching and that's why I wanted to come back into the game with Edmonton last year. We went through some tough times, but I was looking forward to continuing to help to change the climate there and continue to help this organization go back to respectability in the sense of winning. I'll continue to do that, but it's just going to be in a different capacity, obviously."
Edmonton will be on its second coach in as many years after the eight-season tenure of Craig MacTavish, one of the longest stretches in the NHL at the time of his firing in May 2009.
It represents the first big move of the week for Tambellini. The Oilers GM will be centre stage on Friday, holding the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL entry draft in Los Angeles.
While few pundits projected the Oilers as a powerhouse when this past season began, many thought they might be able to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
That bubble burst with season-ending injuries to goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, Ales Hemsky, Sheldon Souray and Ladislav Smid, putting the lineup in a constant state of flux.
The Oilers had neither the experience nor the depth to overcome the injuries. Khabibulin, the team's major off-season acquisition last summer, only made 18 appearances before being sidelined by a back injury that required surgery. Rookies Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk were forced to carry the load.