It seems likely the Edmonton Oilers will add another body to their coaching staff for next season. I find myself wondering if we’re jumping to conclusions by assuming it’ll be an assistant coach. How about a head coach?
Yes, I know the Oilers have one of those. His name is Ralph Krueger. Thanks, Tips. Up front, I’m spit-balling here because nobody with the Oilers has let me in on the down low about pending personnel decisions, but I’m wondering if Krueger might be better suited, and more comfortable, back in a role as an associate coach, the position he first took in Edmonton under Tom Renney.
Specifically, I’m wondering if a move like that by Krueger might make sense for the Oilers with a couple of proven, blue chip coaching candidates on the horizon — Lindy Ruff and Dave Tippett, who are both behind the bench with Team Canada at the World Championships right now.
I ran Tippett’s name by our readers about a year ago before the Oilers decided on Krueger, contemplating if Tippett might become available. Now, with the Oilers looking to add to a staff that includes Krueger, Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger, and Tippett’s contract with the Phoenix Coyotes about to expire June 30, I believe his name is worth repeating.
HAS THE CREDENTIALS
Tippett, 51, has made the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons as an NHL coach with Dallas and Phoenix, taking the Coyotes to the Western Conference final last season. All told, he boasts a record of 427-252-28-79 (.611) in 786 regular season games.
Tippett has also got three years as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings and an IHL championship with the Houston Aeros in 1999 on his coaching resume. Most important, if the Coyotes status remains up in the air in terms of ownership and Tippett doesn’t get a new contract, or chooses to test the market, he will be available.
"There’s gonna be some clarity to it one way or the other this year because if it gets to July 1 and there’s no owner, I’m without a contract," Tippett told USA Today May 2. "I’m gonna coach somewhere next year. I hope it’s here. But I’m gonna coach somewhere next year."
Now, I’m not making the quantum leap that "somewhere" necessarily means Edmonton, but I won’t discount the possibility either. All I know is that new GM Craig MacTavish won’t be doing his job if he doesn’t include Tippett on his call list after June 30, if the Oilers don’t at least make a pitch.
There are others, like Ruff, not to mention a handful of other younger coaches looking for NHL jobs as well, and MacT better ring them up, too. Of course, seeing Krueger step aside for Tippett probably seems like a long shot, but so did the hiring of Pat Quinn and Renney as a tandem (yes, that went ever so badly) and the return to the organization of MacTavish himself. Some people laughed out loud when that possibility was raised.
Just sayin’ . . .
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.