When Craig MacTavish left the Edmonton Oilers four years ago, the team was in need of grit and energy and skill — the kind of players who could help push the team back into the NHL playoffs.

Now, it will be up to him to better a team that still hasn’t made it to the post-season.

MacTavish, whose tenure as the Oilers head coach ended four years ago to the day, was named the club’s fifth general manager on Monday. He replaces Steve Tambellini, who had been at the helm since 2008.

“The most valuable thing a manager can do is bring good players through the door of the dressing room,” MacTavish said. “You have to tap into all your resources, but the bottom line is getting good quality people and players to walk through that door.”

MacTavish returned to the Oilers last summer as the senior vice-president of hockey operations. Prior to that, he had a season coaching the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, finished his MBA at Queen’s University, and worked for TSN as a hockey analyst.

He was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but said on Monday his physical health is good.

Then again, he’s never been one to spend much time reflecting, which is why he didn’t see his hiring as a questionable link to the past.

“The fact of the matter is it’s not about yesterday,” MacTavish said. “Maybe there are some skeptics out there and there are going to be in this business. You don’t take a position like I’m taking right now with rose-coloured glasses. It’s not for the faint of heart. I walked in here completely understanding the situation.

“But my sole objective is to come in and add something to the future of this club.”

There’s no question the Oilers need more size and skill to complement the draft picks they have accumulated through their losing seasons, but how MacTavish will acquire these players remains to be seen. As he said himself, every team wants a Milan Lucic in their lineup, but will the Oilers have to draft and develop some big, gritty, skilled forwards, or, trade some assets to acquire one sooner?