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Speculation: Jim Johnson to go from coaching staff?

The Oilers rumour mill is firing up already with word coming out of the Twitter machine from TSN’s Dean Millard that assistant coach Jim Johnson could be the one to get the boot from the coaching staff. Of course, this is only speculation at this point and there’s no guarantee that this is going to happen, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to talk about it anyway. 

According to TSN 1260’s Dean Millard, a former NHL exec slipped into his DMs and tipped him off on a potential change that we might see coming to the Oilers’ coaching staff. Jim Johnson, penalty kill planner extraordinaire and man that looks like he’s angrily looking for a taxi, was the guy tasked with running a penalty kill that finished 25th overall after spending most of the season in the league’s basement. There were months when an Oilers PK meant a sure goal against was on its way and Johnson was the mastermind behind it all. The weird part, of course, was how the Oilers finished first overall in PK% on the road (86.7%) and dead last by a country mile (65.8%) at home, but that’s a story for another day. My point is that getting rid of the guy that was tasked with managing that bizarre mess wouldn’t exactly be all that surprising.

Jim Johnson, as I’m sure you all remember, was part of the package deal that came with Todd McLellan’s coaching tripod back when they were hired in May of 2015. Before coming to Edmonton, Johnson was a part of McLellan’s coaching staff in San Jose starting in 2012-13 and before that he was an assistant coaching in Washington. He was an experienced guy but maybe not a popular guy. According to a source I spoke to (yes, for real), Johnson wasn’t the easiest guy to work with because he’s an old school, drill sergeant kind of coach whose personality didn’t really mesh well with this group. To put it another way, if this is true and Johnson is the one to go then I don’t think there were will be too many players that are going to be upset about it. Combine what I heard with what Dean Millard is hearing and all of a sudden you’ve got some smoke building under ol’ Jimmy’s chair.

Of course this is just a rumour and you never know what will happen with this franchise we inexplicably love, but I wouldn’t exactly be surprised to see Todd McLellan come back but some of the assistant coaches changing. In Mark Spector’s article over at Sportsnet, he talks about Nicholson not necessarily wanting to fire McLellan but instead looking at changing an assistant or two. Then again, in that same article, he also talks about some members of the Old Boys Club that don’t think McLellan is the man and are trying to make changes happen after what Spector called a “Red Wine Summit.” Needless to say, the circus that is the Edmonton Oilers is only getting started and whether or not Johnson kicks off the festivities is yet to be seen.

All I know for sure is that it’s going to be an interesting summer in Edmonton. Buckle up.


Source: Dean Millard, TSN 1260, 4/12/2018 – 8:28 pm MST

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Sure fire the guy who oversaw a PK that improved down the stretch, instead of firing the guy who managed a PP that didn’t improve at any point during the season

  • Total Points

    Nothing, absolutely nothing will change until one of the following happen

    1) Get rid of the Old Boys club
    2) Ticket sales are way down
    3) Connor McDavid talks to Katz and tells him to smarten up or I am out of here.

    I see the only one to smarten up this mess is McDavid

    • Gordon Bombay

      Sadly I’ll be the age of the old boys club by the time the old boys club is gone. Too bad salaries were so low in the 80’s or Katz might not feel the need to employ them all

  • ScottV

    It would be another chicken s#it move to fire an assistant, without doing the right thing by firing McL.
    McL is responsible for who he has as assistants and should take responsibility for the overall coaching platform.
    If firing an assistant is the answer then McL should have done it some time ago and if now – the organization should have made it clearly look like he is the one who did the evaluation and is the one pulling the trigger.
    It’s just another poor display of organizational leadership done any other way.
    There are plenty of reasons why McL is just not the right guy with the right stuff. I believed that in year one, year two – even though they were winning by the seat of their pants and certainly believe it, after year 3.
    Firing his assistants – out from under him, makes him look like a weaker leader than he already looks like and will only diminish his already weak ability to influence the players to perform toward what is a flawed game plan.

  • Anton CP

    I would kick Woodcroft before Johnson.

    Granted that the Oilers PK is dead last but they were first PK on the road so it may has to do with player psyche. The coaching staffs need to compare the difference between PK at home and on the road, the Oilers have improved PK late in the season so even as bad as the Oilers PK has been that not scoring on PP is much bigger issue especially with players like McDavid and Draisaitl on the roster.

    Axe Woodcroft first, he should be axed after the first season (Oilers PP were also very bad at year one of McDavid).

  • Petrolero

    “Needless to say, the circus that is the Edmonton Oilers is only getting started and whether or not Johnson kicks off the festivities is yet to be seen.” This sentence made me giddy for some reason

  • Dirtbag Daddy

    Here we go again. It is the coaches fault, or the GM fault and MacTavish and Lowe’s positions are safe. Same old BS with the same results. Get some management that knows how to build a winner, not play for one.

  • The Future Never Comes

    The PP was more pitiful than the PK. The PK was miles better once Letestu was traded. Duh. Woodcroft is the first one I want to see gone, followed by ol’ salesman Todd.

  • Deep Purple

    “Buckle up”? For what – the mighty oilers brass seems content with status quo. It’s more like un-buckle and eject! Section 214 seats for sale (right by the lineup for the washrooms)

  • camdog

    A battle of the Old Boys Club vs the New Boys Club. Johnson was always going to be the guy to go. It’s sort of like firing a Steve Smith or Kelly Buchberger, part of the Boys Club but a cousin. Woodcroft is like a son to McLellan, like Mactavish is like a brother to Kevin Lowe.

  • camdog

    Apparently there are 2 assessments of the coaching being completed by the Oilers right now.Dave Staples saying Old Boys want more coaches removed – New Boys not sold on that idea yet…

  • ed from edmonton

    I know that media guys love to be the guy who break insider news that once in a while turns out to be true. However, what I get from the talking heads of this week is the TMac is far from safe. Both PC and BobNic stressed that they would take their time before anything happens. Given they have had 82 games to think things over I believe the question that is being considered is the fate of TMac. Many of PCs comments struck me as criticisms of the head coach rather than the assistants. i.e he mentioned the penalty kill being good on the road but terrible at home (despite having the same players playing the same systems), poor starts and the team not bringing their lunch buckets seem more head coaching issues rather than Xs and Os, which are more in the assistants domain.

    • Kr55

      Why would Coffey for PP work though? He has zero NHL coaching experience. Gretzky brought him in to help the Coyotes special teams 15 years ago and the Coyotes PP and PK went down the toilet the next year.

      Coffey was without a doubt one of the most talent players ever in the NHL, but a lot of the time that actually makes guys bad coaches, because they just understand things naturally. The hard part of coaching is teaching in an understandable way and understanding the limits of the players you have, which is hard to do for guys that were always just amazing at everything.

  • camdog

    They might have called Coffey a coach, but he didn’t coach much, primary role was to gather intelligence for Old Boys Club to help in the evaluation of McLellan’s coaching crew.

    • Kepler62c

      You’ve either got some serious inside information the rest of us aren’t privy to, or you’re speculating on exactly zero evidence… I’ll vote the latter.

  • CMG30

    Yup. We always suspected that someone inconsequential will be thrown overboard so that the architects of this disaster can escape the consequences of poor decision making continue sailing full speed ahead right into that iceberg.

  • Kepler62c

    While I agree a change in assistant personnel might be warranted, let’s not forget this team is one year removed from a playoff appearance – I think all the “this organization is a tire fire” comments are a little bit overblown… we’ve got a very experienced NHL coach who at the time of his hiring was the 2nd best option available behind Mike Babcock, and a GM that had literally no connection to the “old boys club” when he was hired — both these changes were hailed as a step in the right direction in 2015… miss the playoffs ONE YEAR and everyone wants to blow it up again, reeellaaaax.

  • Axe

    If the only person to go from the management and coaching side is Johnson then that’s disappointing.. Looks like they are doing just enough to try to appease the he fans…