Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mr. Holland’s Coaches

At some point this week, the Edmonton Oilers are expected to make the hiring of Ken Holland official. It will be interesting to see how long Holland will take to name a head coach. If he doesn’t already have a coach in place I’m sure it won’t take long for a manager with his experience to find the Oilers a new bench boss.

There are a number of coaches worth discussing due to a connection with Holland. The following coaching candidates are not placed in any specific order.


Dave Tippett is an interesting option simply because of the situation he’s currently in. Tippett is on the payroll in Seattle as a senior advisor. I was told by someone with ties to Seattle that Tippett will basically get to choose whatever the position he wants within the NHL’s newest expansion franchise. I know Tippett’s name has been popping up among insiders and Rod Pederson, the man who first broke the Holland news, said Tippett wasn’t likely but he has since changed his tune on that rumour.

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From RodPederson.com

Don’t believe the rumours that Dave Tippett will be his coach. **UPDATE – I was told Sunday afternoon there is some merit to this report. Stay tuned. **

Tippett hasn’t coached in the NHL since the 2016-17 season and prior to that he had missed the playoffs for five consecutive years with the Coyotes.

He spent six years as the head coach in Dallas before eight years with the Coyotes. He took both the Stars and Coyotes to the conference final.


I think Bylsma may be my favourite candidate on this list. He is currently an assistant with the Red Wings so it’s not crazy to think he’d follow Holland to Edmonton for a head coaching job.

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Bylsma has experience coaching super star’s spending years with Crosby and Malkin in Pittsburgh. He also has experience coming into a situation similar to Edmonton after a couple of seasons coaching a rebuilding Sabres squad.

Bylsma’s Penguins beat Holland’s Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.


Could Todd Nelson make a return to the Oilers? It’s an idea that doesn’t seem that crazy. Nelson spent 51 games behind the Oilers bench in 2014-15 before giving way to Todd McLellan at the end of the season.

After his time in Edmonton Nelson resurfaced with the Red Wings AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. He’s coached the Griffins to three 90-point seasons and one Calder Cup championship in 2015-16.


How would this go over? I don’t think it’s likely, but considering they’ve worked together with Team Canada in the past it may not be that big of a stretch.

The one thing Hitchcock has going for him above all other candidates is that he’s already on the payroll. If Darryl Katz is going to pay Holland 25 million dollars over the next five years, does he really want to do something similar with a coach?

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Connor McDavid’s junior coach has been on the radar for quite some time. Knoblauch has spent the past two seasons as an assistant in Philadelphia. Team insider Bob Stauffer has discussed Knoblauch’s potential multiple times.

I think the former Golden Bear may be better to have on board as an assistant coach, possibly being groomed to take over the top spot in three to five years.


This seems like quite a stretch but I don’t think we can say there is no chance it happens. It sure seems like there is some tension between Babcock and Kyle Dubas and after three consecutive first round exits, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Leafs move on.

Dubas is a huge supporter of Sheldon Keefe and by all accounts, he’s ready to be a head coach.
If I find out tomorrow that the Leafs are hiring Keefe and Babcock is coming to Edmonton I wouldn’t be stunned.


If the Oilers were looking to go on the cheap Gulutzan would make sense. He’s been around the team for a season and apparently he is well-liked by the key players on the team.


It would be disrespectful to not have Woodcroft on this list. I’d describe him a long shot candidate at best because Holland has never worked with him and he has only been a head coach for one season, but it was a hell of a season. Hopefully, the Oilers can keep Woodcroft developing their young talent down in Bakersfield.

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During the search for a general manager, some very positive things were said about Sean Burke. Burke was the goaltending coach in Arizona under Tippett so they do have a working relationship.

I wonder if Tippett comes in and the Oilers manage to bring Burke on board in pro scouting and to help with the goaltending. Something to think about.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • TruthHurts98

    DOD 2.0 in full swing. P.C. 2.0 aka Ken Holland is running the titanic with the OBC going no where. He won’t fire a single one of them and Burger Bob isn’t a winner. Cap Hell will continue. Top five draft pick in 2020.

    • Digger

      Man, you need to lay off the pessimistic p*ss you keep drinking…. You think there is any one perfect candidate out there? Wake up & get a life or do us all a favor and stop cheering for the Oilers. If you don’t like the way they’re spending “your” money, stop giving it to them. Pretty simple.

    • cityofchampions

      You’d have to give him other duties to get him, like Asst. GM or head of pro/amateur scouting, but yeah I’d love to see him come in and mentor our goalies, both old and new.

  • Oilerz4life

    Holland should like Hitchcock, they’re both old as dirt, but:

    -Hard no to Babcock.
    -Nelson was great in his very brief audition, but he would probably give a polite no thanks.
    -Woodcroft would be an interesting candidate, but can’t see him getting the nod.

    Who knows, God help the Edmonton Oilers.

    • I think once the team takes off(I think “if” is more appropriate) he’ll probably step down and take a smaller role then transition towards retirement. He’s sitting on enough money and been around for a long time, i’d bet retirement is atleast on his mind. This is all atleast how we hope he goes out instead of getting fired after 3 lottery pick seasons

  • Since 72

    I think Mactavish and Lowe did a lot for this team both as players and management. Most naysayers are probably too young or their selective memory doesn’t allow them to remember the good. Yes, they weren’t
    perfect but had the teams best interests in mind. So let’s let the Stanley cups they helped win keep us happy while the new guys try and turn this thing around. And thank you MacT for ripping out Ralph’s tongue!

    • Done a lot of damage. Cons far outweigh the pros, little things like signing Vladdy from the KHL, although apparently EVERYONE else in the league knew he was ineligible, having head office having to explain waiver eligibility, more than once. In over their heads then and now.

      • Digger

        Taken from above post to TruthHurts98
        Man, you need to lay off the pessimistic p*ss you keep drinking…. You think there is any one perfect candidate out there? Wake up & get a life or do us all a favor and stop cheering for the Oilers. If you don’t like the way they’re spending “your” money, stop giving it to them. Pretty simple.

      • jesse says yep

        There is also the fact that Klowe was also the person who set up the Oilers farm system after not having any affiliated farm teams where players could play and develop. Before that the Oilers were forced to farm out prospects in hopes of getting the playing time and development that they needed.
        There is a lot of bad but there was some good as well

    • Can you blame those “young naysayers”? We’ve watched 1 competitive season in our entire lives!! Our childhood memories of this team is disappointment after disappointment. Sorry pal not all of us can just look back to those teams in the 80’s raising the stanley cup as memories. Our memories are “2-tiers of fans”, the team getting boo’d off the ice, jersey toss after jersey toss, Lowe’s “6 rings” comment, MacT always talking about a “bold move”, watching our favourite players get traded for peanuts then succeed elsewhere and the revolving door of head coaches……oh yea there’s those draft lotteries too!!! You think im willing to forgive those Flames fans dancing and laughing as all the Oilers fans head for the exits after another embarrassing home ice beatdown because Lowe and MacT won some cups 10 years before I was born?

      • Rugbypig

        Thank-you Casey
        I think that wakes people up to what our children have been forced to watch.
        Mine don’t waste their time anymore.
        Thanks Oilers for taking that away with the most incompetent franchise currently (Last 10 years have scored the least number of goals (as in 60 less) than any other team in the same time frame
        And if they do not qualify for the playoffs this coming season they will set a new record for missing the playoffs.
        And you wonder why the younger generation is staying away . . . . . . . . .

      • Shameless Plugger

        I hear you loud and clear. However I’ve never seen a fan base turn on their alumni like Oiler fans have. The only reason we have ANY history is because of the boys on the bus. Have they made some questionable decisions ? I doubt! We’re they hired for jobs they weren’t qualified for? No question! Did they say some things they shouldn’t have ? You bet! But do they absolutely bleed orange and blue and care a whole hell of a lot about the oilers. You bet your ass. So slag them all want and you have every right to do so. Me on the other hand will look at them as guys who care deeply about a franchise and want nothing more than to see it return to glory.

  • hagar

    The Oilers’ throbbing brains are probably licking their lips at the thought of Holland as gm with Babcock as coach.
    That is a proven combo they know wins cups!! Then they would just need to hope negotiations go well with Dominik Hasek, and there would be high fives all around!!

  • lee

    I would like to see Nelson get another shot. He proved he was good with the young Oiler’s, and this will be a young team again next season. He also is a players coach, getting something out of J.P is important. Bringing in a hard ass coach from the past does not work. Todays players are dealt with differently, listening to coach Cooper talk in the Hockey News shows you how different he is. You need a coach that can identify with the players.
    Getting a solid to great free agent to join the Oiler’s (at some point) depends a lot on the coach they have. Tippet coaches a grinding heavy defense game, players like Eberle or Skinner would never sign up for a coach like that. The team doesn’t need anymore great 2 way forwards like the Nuge, they need someone who can take the heavy lifting away from McDavid and Dria .

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Tippet wouldnt be bad as a coach. Blysma I think I would pass, yes he had success with the Pens but look at their line up those years and tell me that didnt help, There are pieces missing from the Oilers, and there will be for a while, I dont see Blysma as a HC here. Nelson isn’t coming back to the Oilers not with the OBC in charge that bridge was burned by Mac T, Unless Holland cleaned house, dont look for Nelson to want to come here

    Babcock and Dubas dont see eye to eye and that isnt exactly news, but unless Babcock got the boot, I dont see him coming here, does anyone think Katz is going to want to pay Babcock 8 mil a yr? Not a chance So while that might make a great story line to read it sure isnt based in reality, Detorit wasnt willing to shell 8 mil a yr for Babcock when Holland was there, the Oilers could have went after Babock but it was too rich for their blood TM was 5 mil a year cheaper.

    Their may be some more names popping up after the season. I would love to see Burke as an AGM goalie coach though as for the current Oilers asst coaches, they can all go IMHO, I saw no differance while they were at the helm from the the asst coaches form the year before, one thing is for sure Schwartz needs to go.

    • hagar

      Yeah Nelson was one of the lucky ones to come through. He actually left with nobody thinking he ruined the team or was part of the problem like everyone else save for Kruger.
      He was lucky and got replaced by what was seen as an upgrade more than because of failure.
      Be a super tough decision to risk that again.

  • VK63


    Sure is good to know that our mastermind business operations unit is garnering so much value for our after tax donations to the Oilers cause.
    Man, a sailor on shore leave has nothing on Mr. Katz.
    Given the choice between fiscal responsibility and buy me some friends ole Darryl must have been a big assed fan of Oprah.

    Just wow.
    Dear fans, gather round and bend over. New toys and broken idols don’t come cheap, evidently.

    • Digger

      Taken from above replies,
      Man, you need to lay off the pessimistic p*ss you keep drinking…. You think there is any one perfect candidate out there? Wake up & get a life or do us all a favor and stop cheering for the Oilers. If you don’t like the way they’re spending “your” money, stop giving it to them. Pretty simple.

    • Hemmercules

      I find it funny how the money Holland is going to receive is even in the news. I don’t think I have have ever seen a GM have his salary broadcasted. And where else but Edmonton would they feel the need to complain about what the GM is making? It’s completely irrelevant to the fans. It doesn’t count on the cap. We didn’t have to give up draft picks.

  • Serious Gord

    Tippet, Bylsma, Babcock and maybe Nelson would be acceptable IMO. Tippet would be the best of that bunch IMO – used to working with sub-par talent, hungry, still relatively young.

  • Oilers4477

    Just a thought but I personally think this should be nothing but McDavid’s decision if he liked the way Hitchcock coached then hire him if not then pick someone else but bring McDavid into the interviews so he knows exactly what the coaches are wanting to do.

    • Hemmercules

      Their situation was kinda ugly this year and it will also be next year for them but they have some buyouts, retained salary and a bunch of players coming off the books soon. They have 15 million on the LTIR right now as well. They don’t have a Lucic contract to deal with but they also don’t have a McD to build around. I think Detroit looks bad on paper right now but with some smart moves they will back to the playoffs in a couple years.

    • I talked to the Red Wings subreddit last night and they say it’s not as bad as it looks. The owners were involved in alot of bad decisions. One of the reasons was to extend the playoff streak instead of doing a proper rebuild. According to Red Wing fans the biggest reason for some of those awful contracts are because the Red Wings like to reward their long time players’ loyalty(similar to what the Lakers do). He surrounds himself with smart people. Decades of lower draft picks will have its wear on any organization(the San Antonio Spurs are literally made up of role players off the streets now).Holland still has his share of mistakes but a fresh start might be what he needs.

  • CofC

    I think many people on here forget what Tippet’s on-ice product represents: Boring, unimaginative, trap-style hockey with zero flair and little offence; while the team needs to remain defensively responsible and aggressive re: maintaining and regaining puck possession, the stars on the team need to be allowed to shine and flourish, not be sniffed out… Unfortunately this is not within Tippet’s M.O.

  • Heschultzhescores

    The cup has never been harder to win. With a cap and a draft that helps he weak teams, every team has never been closer in talent in the history of the game. Then the playoffs are a crap shoot even if you do well in the regular season. Just because we sign a few great players and hopefully a great GM, guaranteed nothing. We will be fortunate to win a cup with McD, the same as every other team with their stars. Get in the playoffs, get hot goaltending and see what happens. The dynasty years for any team are over…just ask OV.

  • chezzychez

    Picking Gulutzan as a head coach option on this list is hilarious to me. It’s not worth writing a couple sentences about how he could be a ‘cheap’ option and that he’s ‘well-liked’ in the dressing room. We’re a fragile group of fans, that’s a rough option to read.

  • I think the Oilers should have Tippett and Babcock in the mix but I think this organization needs to get some younger, less proven guys in it as well. Montgomery and Quinn both came from the NCAA last offseason and both have had very good rookie seasons, BrindAmour and Berube have both been absolutely outstanding rookie coaches too. I really hope they don’t limit themselves to Hockey Canada connections again.

  • Abagofpucks

    Lol i hear all these young fans like casey whine about never seeing a good Oiler hockey team.Just think if you were born in 1968 in toronto and your sitting in your living room and your 51 years old and you’ve never seen your team win, think about that for a while.

  • Odd that Holland has literally never constructed a successful team since Connor entered the league. It’s almost as if his arrival solidified speed and skill becoming the most important attributes and Holland is a relic who couldn’t adapt. “Give him a chance” he had four YEARS to adapt in Detroit, they gave him a whole lot of chances. I also have to ask, where did the Oilers earn any of these chances you seem to keep giving them? The answer? Nowhere. I hope he proves me wrong but he will be doing it by going against everything that he is. Basically, to be successful, he must act like someone else. Kinda seems like it would have been easier to just get someone else.

  • TKB2677

    Who ever the coach is, he doesn’t have to be a task master like Hitchcock. I think that really ground the players down but he has to be a guy that can get these guys to play hard consistently. Arizona’s top scorer had 47 pts but they had a better record than the Oilers because they played together, played their system and played their ass off. If the Oilers even gave 3/4 of the effort that Arizona did, with the Oilers top end skill, they would have been a hell of a lot better even with all the holes they had in their line up.

  • hockeyartist

    Any on the list except Tippet. McDavid will leave for sure if his creativity and offence is suppressed even more than it has been. Then you can get ready for a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 losses.