Oilers fire head coach Dave Tippett; Woodcroft to take over
Out of a playoff spot and losers of three of their last four, the Oilers have fired head coach Dave Tippett.
Associate coach Jim Playfair was also let go.
Jay Woodcroft will take over as head coach with Dave Manson serving as an assistant. Both had been with the Oilers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Bakersfield.
The move comes a week after Tippett declared following a 5-3 win over the Capitals that “we’ve got things turned around.” That was during a stretch where Edmonton had won five of six. But as has been the case with the Oilers this season, things quickly went back down hill and general manager Ken Holland is making a change after the team lost by a combined 8-1 score in their last two games to the Golden Knights and Blackhawks.
(This also marks the first time in Holland’s 25-year career as an NHL GM that he’s made an in-season coaching change.)
[MORE: Can coaching change get Oilers on right path to playoffs, trade deadline?]
As of Thursday, the Oilers sit fifth in the Pacific Division, five points behind the Flames for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. It won’t be an easy climb in that area of the playoff race as they try to catch the teams ahead of them. This is the first move for Holland. The next could come by the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline, though he doesn’t seem eager to go out and grab a rental.
Something will have to give as a coaching change may not be enough to get the Oilers on a consistent path towards the playoffs.
Between the lack of scoring depth and goaltending that has hindered the team regularly, Woodcroft may help, but he likely won’t be the solution. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who will play under their third different coach since 2019, continue to carry the offensive load. Some help beyond Evander Kane would be welcomed. Same goes for between the pipes as Mikko Koskinen, Stuart Skinner and Mike Smith have posted a combined .911 5-on-5 save percentage.
Tippett was hired by the Oilers in May 2019 and compiled a 95-62-14 record in Edmonton, which includes a 2020 Qualifying Round loss in four games to Chicago and a sweep last postseason at the hands of the Jets.