Holland tasks coach Jay Woodcroft with correcting inconsistent Oilers

Feb 10 2022, 11:48 pm

Jay Woodcroft wasn’t the original plan.

But he’s been tapped by Edmonton Oilers General Manager Ken Holland to push a wildly inconsistent club back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Woodcroft, along with assistant Dave Manson, was hired to replace Head Coach Dave Tippett on Thursday.

“My hope was three months ago I was going to be signing Dave Tippett to an extension, that we were going to make the playoffs, and we were going to go on a playoff run,” Holland told media Thursday. “Jay would develop into an NHL coach, if not here an opportunity elsewhere. I think that certainly having Jay in the organization for today has been a good thing.¬†

“He and Dave Manson and the staff down there have done a good job in developing young players into NHL players.¬†

“Bouchard. Ethan Bear. McLeod. Skinner. Caleb Jones. Yamamoto. And there’s more. The young defensemen are playing good down there.¬†

“When you’ve got talented people, at some period they either become a head coach for you or the leave and go elsewhere. Jay was really, in my mind, in the process of developing into a person that was going to be a candidate to coach an NHL team. Happens to be, today’s the day.”

The same day the Oilers relieved their eighth head coach in the past 10 seasons.

Woodcroft becomes the 17th head coach in franchise history. He’ll be joined by Manson, who will replace Jim Playfair.¬†

Playfair was relieved alongside Tippett. 

“Basically, I told Jay he’s the head coach for the rest of the year and at the end of the year we’ll sit down and see what happens over the last 38 games,” Holland said.

Under the guidance of Woodcroft and Manson, the Condors posted a 105-71-21 record during the regular season and captured the Pacific Division playoff championship in the 2020-21 season.

Bakersfield also won the Pacific Division regular-season title in 2018-19.

Woodcroft, 45, also spent three seasons as an assistant coach in Edmonton under Todd McLellan from 2015-18, and in the same role with McLellan from 2008-15 with the San Jose Sharks. 

He also won a Stanley Cup in 2008 as video coach of the Detroit Red Wings.

“The two people I considered was (current assistant coach) Glen Gulutzan, [he] has coached in the NHL with Dallas, and he’s on our staff,” Holland said. “So in my mind, do I stay internally and stay with Gully? Or I’ve got a young guy who’s doing a tremendous job in Bakersfield.¬†

“My gut instincts are that Jay’s ready, that he been through a journey from Michigan State to Detroit to San Jose to Edmonton to Bakersfield, that he’s ready to be behind the bench in the National Hockey League.”

Woodcroft has helped fuel depth in the Oilers organization with 13 Condors players making their NHL debuts with Edmonton over the course of the past three seasons. 

Those figures include current Oilers Ryan McLeod, Stuart Skinner, Tyler Benson, Evan Bouchard, and William Lagesson.

“He’s got passion. Got energy. Paid his dues. Been in a room with top hockey people, good coaches in the National Hockey League. He’s ran his own bench,” Holland detailed. “Because he started out in video, they’re watching every little thing and they’ve got to bring things to the coaches. He watches details.¬†

“I think for all those reasons he’s an NHL coach.”

Aaron VickersAaron Vickers

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