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Edmonton Oilers ditch Woodcroft, rent Knoblauch in reshuffle

The Edmonton Oilers are in last-chance saloon territory after firing head coach Jay Woodcroft and putting in main league rookie Kris Knoblauch as his substitute.

Oilers basic supervisor Ken Holland made his transfer on Sunday [12 November], saying – through a group assertion – the departures of Woodcroft and assistant coach Dave Manson.

Edmonton sit within the NHL’s basement as they strategy the quarter-season mark, with a frumpy 3-9-1 document to open the yr.

The Oilers’ torrid kind consists of an embarrassing reverse towards the San Jose Sharks, one of many weakest main league squads in current reminiscence.

Knoblauch arrives at Rogers Place from the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolfpack, the place he spent 5 seasons as head coach.

Earlier than his transfer to Hartford, the 45-year-old spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers after guiding the Connor McDavid-era Erie Otters to the Ontario Hockey League title in 2016-17.

Kris Knoblauch Jay Woodcroft Conference Finals - Conn Smythe Trophy - 2021-22 Hart Trophy | Washington Capitals Garnet Hathaway fights Connor McDavid for positioning in front of the Edmonton Oilers' net at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., Feb. 2, 2022 (Image: Brian Murphy, All-Pro Reels)

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Picture: All-Professional Reels)

Edmonton’s reshuffle poses a variety of vital questions, however finally underscores a stark conclusion – this model of the Oilers are out of bullets and Holland is headed for the departures longue. Changing Woodcroft with McDavid’s former junior coach is a remaining, determined roll of the cube for a franchise plummeting out of the playoff race.

 Why did the Edmonton Oilers sack Jay Woodcroft?

The Oilers moved on from Woodcroft as a result of his magic contact expired.

Edmonton altered their techniques over the summer season in a bid to change into higher within the impartial and defensive zones, however the swap utterly backfired.

Woodcroft’s squad leaked rush possibilities – a problem multiplied by their goaltending division’s lack of ability to make a save.

Jack Campbell, only one yr right into a $25 million contract, was positioned on waivers and demoted to the AHL. Stuart Skinner has additionally been a shadow of the netminder who was chosen for the All-Star Recreation final season.

Jay Woodcroft, formerly of the Edmonton Oilers (Image: NHL)

Whereas Edmonton’s underlying statistics recommend {that a} turnaround is due (they’re a top-five group in harmful possibilities created and puck possession), their cratering save and taking pictures percentages doomed Woodcroft to the sack.

When requested about his mindset, McDavid – who is barely enjoying at a 73-point tempo – described his confidence as “not very excessive.”

Woodcroft was booted for the 26-year-old’s former junior coach the following day.

Why did the Edmonton Oilers appoint Kris Knoblauch?

Though Knoblauch has been seen as an up-and-comer in NHL teaching circles for some time, his connection to McDavid is clearly an element.

The Saskatoon-born tactician spent three years as McDavid’s bench boss in Erie, culminating in a championship win.

The Oilers’ equation is straightforward – they’re hoping McDavid and Knoblauch recapture the magic of yesteryear and clinch championship success.

“To have the ability to coach the Edmonton Oilers – with such a robust hockey tradition, historical past and passionate followers – to be right here as a head coach is a little bit little bit of a dream for me,” Knoblauch instructed reporters on Sunday.

Kris Knoblauch and Connor McDavid, formerly of the Eerie Otters (Image: OHL)

Kris Knoblauch and Connor McDavid, previously of the Eerie Otters (Picture: OHL)

“I’m from round right here. I got here from Saskatchewan. I got here right here, performed junior hockey in I imagine it was 1996 for the Edmonton Ice, stayed right here, performed for the College of Alberta Golden Bears and met my spouse right here. We have now loads of mates right here. The truth that I’ve this chance to be right here with the Oilers again in Edmonton is basically thrilling for me.”

Nonetheless, it will be unfair to scale back Knoblauch’s enchantment to his historical past with the captain of his new group.

His resume consists of a formidable stint in junior hockey, which noticed him win titles within the OHL and Western Hockey League.

What does the long run maintain for the Edmonton Oilers?

Holland stays the final supervisor in Edmonton, however his reign accountable for the franchise is basically over.

Knoblauch hasn’t been seen as a critical candidate for head teaching positions within the NHL since he was McDavid’s junior coach.

Paul Coffey, who the Oilers have appointed as his assistant, has by no means stood behind knowledgeable hockey bench and has by no means publicly expressed any curiosity in doing so. His appointment is unusual, to say the least.

These strikes have the fingerprints of head of hockey operations Jeff Jackson throughout them, with Sunday’s reshuffle pointing to a transparent transition of energy as Holland enters the ultimate months of his contract.

The Oilers have no margin for error of their bid to make the playoffs – they’re a good distance again and already quick on time.

If this season is wasted, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will transfer one other step nearer to unrestricted free company with nothing, other than private accolades, to point out for it.



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