The Edmonton Oilers’ tumultuous narrative continues with a startling move made just after a triumphant 4-1 victory against the Seattle Kraken. The win, breaking a four-game losing streak, hinted at a potential turning point for the team. However, the optimism was short-lived as the organization abruptly relieved head coach Jay Woodcroft and defensive coach Dave Manson of their duties.
Stepping into the coaching role is Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch, with former NHL player Paul Coffey joining as an assistant. Knoblauch’s history with Connor McDavid from their time together in Junior adds an intriguing layer to his appointment. Notably, the Oilers have former McDavid agent Jeff Jackson serving as the CEO of Hockey Operations.
Woodcroft’s record of 79-41-13 marked him as the most successful Oilers coach in the past decade. Nonetheless, the team’s underwhelming 3-9-1 start led to the sudden decision from the higher-ups to make a coaching change.
Knoblauch assumes the coaching role amidst a concerning trend, becoming the fifth head coach in the past eight years and 14 games. This move reaffirms the Oilers’ reputation as a challenging environment for coaches, following a string of predecessors including Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock, Dave Tippett, and most recently, Woodcroft.
This shift marks the 11th coaching change in the past 15 years, emphasizing the Oilers’ lack of stability in coaching personnel. Notably, no Oilers coach since Craig MacTavish in 2009 has managed to survive beyond three seasons in this demanding role.