Tom Renney: From The Canada Games to The NHL, via the Canadian Olympic Team
Coaches of Canada
February 4, 2011

What was the catalyst for you to pursue coaching as a career?

TR: I started to identify with coaching when I was attending the University of North Dakota in the mid-70’s. Like most Canadian kids, I hoped to play in the National Hockey League, but coaching seemed the more legitimate shot to get to the NHL since I was on the small side for a defenseman.

Father David Bauer was an important role model to me. I recall how impressed I was that a priest would be coaching the Canadian National Team. I was impressed by the fact that a man of the cloth was speaking of the virtues of commitment, perseverance, sacrifice, and the pursuit of excellence through hockey. Ultimately and over time, I understood that these were important virtues for me to pursue in my journey through coaching, and I have Father Bauer to thank for that. He was the first coach I had ever heard speak of and demonstrate those most valuable coaching essentials.

Prior to leaving school, I recall writing down the five things I wanted to have accomplished by the time I was thirty five years old. One being, coach Canada’s National Hockey Team. In 1993 I was named head coach of the Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey Team, destination Lillehammer, Norway.

Can you outline the pathway you took to get to the Canada Games as a hockey coach?

TR: Through the B.C. Best Ever program I had been given many terrific opportunities, one of which was coaching British Columbia’s entry in the Canada Winter Games in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia in 1987. I had been coaching the Trail Junior Smoke Eaters in the Kootenay International Hockey League in the mid- to late-80s, and had met with some reasonable success. I had attended and successfully participated in the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) during the 80s, and was chosen along with Derek Spring of Cranbrook to co-coach Team B.C. It was a unique and exhilarating experience in every way, and served to “set the hook” in what would be my life’s passion: coaching.

How did your coaching experience at the Canada Games set the stage for coaching at the next level?

TR: It was the Canada Games experience that convinced me that coaching in the highest competitive stream possible was what I wanted to do, and to coach the Canadian Olympic Team was my goal. Since a visit to my minor hockey banquet in Cranbrook, B.C., in 1967 by Father David Bauer, the then coach of Team Canada, I could identify with coaching, and would often think of that visit. And I actually still do when it comes to my continued motivation to coach. From the Canada Winter Games, came the Quebec Esso Cup, the national under-17 festival, the National Under-18 Team, National Junior Team, National Teams, Olympic Teams and numerous IIHF World Championship teams, and luckily enough, the National Hockey League ... all as a head coach. All in all, I have coached in 10 world championships and Olympics for Canada. I feel very lucky.

How would you sum up your coaching career to this point in your life?

TR: When I think back on my coaching career the one thing I really hoped to do was help win a gold medal for my country. We came oh so close in Lillehammer in 1994. With under two minutes to go, we were ahead of the Swedes 2-1 when we were called for a holding penalty. We were crushed when they scored to tie the game at two and although we pushed as hard as we could to win, the famous Peter Forsberg goal in the first shootout in Olympic history erased any hope of Canada’s first gold medal in hockey in 39 years. This feat would finally be recognized by Team Canada in Salt Lake City in 2002. The great irony from a personal point of view is that I was never driven to coach in the NHL ... only for my country. Coaching in the NHL appears to a by-product of that determination and drive.

On , Tom Renney became the 10th head coach in Edmonton Oilers’ franchise history, after joining the Oilers as an associate coach for the 2009-10 season.

Tom spent the previous nine seasons with the New York Rangers, the last four as their head coach. After being named the 33rd head coach in franchise history on , he led the Rangers to 40-or-more wins in three consecutive seasons, a feat last accomplished by the club in 1974. Over the course of 327 games he guided the Rangers to a 164-117-0-46 record including three straight post-season appearances from 2005-08; the second best winning percentage in the history of the Rangers, behind only Emile Francis.

Recently, Tom has served his country on Team Canada’s coaching staff at the 20 IIHF World Championships. At the 2004 tournament in Czech Republic, he helped guide the team to Canada’s second consecutive gold medal at the prestigious tournament. In 2005, Tom and Team Canada once again appeared in the gold medal game, but were left with the silver medal after falling to the Czech Republic.

Tom and his wife Glenda have two daughters, Jessica and Jamie.

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