Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Carousel: Dave Tippett

If you subscribe to the theory that where there’s smoke there’s fire, it would be absolutely no surprise if new Edmonton Oilers’ POHO and GM Ken Holland names Dave Tippett as his new head coach any day now. In this case, I do, but that’s the old gut and common sense talking, not any kind of inside information.

Tippett, 57, now working as a senior advisor with the Seattle expansion franchise, has been mentioned since the day Holland got the job here as a front-runner for the head coaching position. Of course, he was also mentioned as a leading contender for the same job with the Buffalo Sabres, but former Oilers’ bench boss Ralph Krueger will be unveiled as the new man with the Sabres today.

I never thought Holland would end up with the Oilers in the first place, even after being bumped upstairs by the Detroit Red Wings to make room for Steve Yzerman, but he did. It’s difficult, then, to dismiss all the talk we hear that Tippett stands at the front of the line for the Oilers’ coaching job ahead of Todd Nelson as the guy to take over from Ken Hitchcock. That buzz is coming from many corners of the internet.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

While Holland certainly has a connection with Nelson, who won a Calder Cup with Detroit’s AHL farm team in Grand Rapids, and Camaro Todd seemed to connect well with his players in his brief stint behind the Oilers’ bench after Dallas Eakins was sacked, Tippett brings an impressive coaching resume to the table. He’s got a .563 career points percentage, even with the dry spell he endured at the end of his tenure in Arizona. He’s a proven commodity. The question is, is he a good fit here?


Feb 24, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team take on the Dallas Stars during the third period at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeat the Coyotes 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tippett was coaching the Dallas Stars during my final four years writing the Oilers beat at the dailies, and while there’s been some water pass under the bridge (my last year was 2006-07), players talk about Tippett as a good communicator and a straight shooter who ran the ship with a firm hand. Tippett leaned, and still does, to a defence-first approach. That approach took the Stars to seasons of 111, 97, 112 and 107 points during those final four years when I saw Tippett at work first-hand.

This is a different time and the Oilers are a different team, but I believe Tippett’s approach is a good fit with the Oilers. In many ways, Tippett is a lot like Hitchcock, although less grinding on his players. While he stresses defensive play, it’s a leap to suggest that Tippett stifles offensive talent. Besides, aside from captain Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, how much offensive firepower do the Oilers have to stifle?

Like I wrote earlier this week, Holland’s first coaching hire here, no matter who it is, isn’t going to turn things around on its own. That said, if the Oilers, as they’re constructed now, are going to finally return to playoff contention, they’re going to have to be much better defensively until they can add some scoring depth. That’s right in Tippett’s wheelhouse. That’s not a sexy way to play the game, but it’s necessary with this roster.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Has Tippett been offered the job? I don’t know – Rod Pedersen won’t tell me. If he has, will he be willing to leave his position as an advisor in Seattle? Again, I don’t know. My guess is Holland will be doing everything he can in the next few days to sell Tippett on coming here and taking over from Hitchcock. If he can’t, I see Nelson as a terrific fall-back option. My sense is that we’ll know sooner than later. The word “imminent” comes to mind.


I’m happy to see Krueger back in the NHL. He’s an innovative thinker and a talented guy. I thought he did a good job here and he certainly deserved better than getting fired via Skype by GM Craig MacTavish, who fell fast and hard for Eakins during talks that were supposed to be about an assistant coaching position. That’s still a head-scratcher. That was a bush league way to treat your coach and more wasted years in the infinite rebuild.

Krueger was never coming back here. He is a solid hire by Buffalo, and I wish him well. That said, let’s not turn him into something he’s not. The Oilers went 19-22-7 (.469) under Krueger and lost nine of the final 12 games he coached. It’s not like the Oilers lost out on Joel Quenneville.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Serious Gord

    Is there no one under the age of 45 qualified in the eyes of Holland and oiler’s management?
    Scotty Bowman became an NHL head Coach when he was 34. Babcock when he was 39.

    Surely there is a younger, presumably more modern-thinking coach than Tippett.

    • TruthHurts98

      I would prefer Nelson any day over Tippett. No one else has wanted to hire Tippett these last few years to coach a team. Sounds like the Oilers perfect candidate for the OBC.

      • Reg Dunlop

        Last few years? He last coached in 2017 and then, JUST MAYBE, chose to try upper management with the new Seattle franchise after coaching non-stop since ’95(including a Jack Adams award). How many of those awards does Todd have?

    • When you have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl then you should be building the team around the offense. The Sharks, Bruins, and Blues are all 3 lines deep(Sharks and Blues arguably 4 lines). We need to stop hiring coaches who limit the forward group’s offensive potential in favour of “defensive structure.” Defense is a problem but having 1 scoring line and 3 lines of grinding and defending is an even bigger problem.

      • Serious Gord

        Cite the case of a nhl cup-winning team that was built around offence? The combination of great defense and goaltending is the key to elite levels of success. And that great defence usually requires a defensive attitude by most of not all of the forward corps.

        • Serious Gord

          Sorry, meant to say “in the modern era”. The go-go expansion-weakened ‘80s can be argued to be an exception – but even then it was teams that had fuhr-level goaltending that won it all.

        • Kevwan

          The 2017 Penguins had a questionable D group. G Matt Murray is solid but hardly ” Fuhr-level “.

          Should absolutely be able to build a Cup Winner around Connor and Leon.

          • Serious Gord


            In 2008 they beat the wings in seven averaging 2gpg

            In 2016 they beat the sharks in 6 never scoring more than 3 in any game.

            The outlier is in 2017 when they beat Nashville in 6 and got 5 or 6 goals in each game that they won. But then Nashville has renne in net…

      • toprightcorner

        The final four teams all have an exceptional defense. Yes, they have a good offense, but it is their defense that has taken them this far.

        NYI is a prime example. Last year, they had the highest goals-against average, this year the best. Last year they scored more, but this year they made the playoffs and beat the Pens.

        You cannot ignore offense, but every successful team has a strong defensive structure and that is something the Oilers lack.

      • Serious Gord

        Fun fact:

        Of the four teams currently remaining in the playoffs none has a player being paid more than 8 million. Meanwhile EDM has two. Not a co-inky-dink…

  • TruthHurts98

    The real question: Why the F#$% is MacTavish still employed by the Oilers? Until the OBC is removed including Burger Bob don’t expect any real changes. Holland will slow play the prospects now and probably draft well. So it’ll take a couple years to be any threat to making it to the playoffs.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I said this before, I think Holland was chosen because he would work with the OBC, I doubt we see KLowe and MacT go anywhere… might have some job shuffle title, but Katz isnt going to boot them to the curb. As for Tippett I think he is a great coach but again the defence style first didnt serve the Oilers well under Hitch and in today’s game coaches have been able to deal with it pretty easily. I too am cautious about Tippett just because I think the defence first style is too susceptible in today’s NHL

      • OilerForLife

        At the end of the day, my only concern is that he’s smart enough to access the information and then decide for himself what to do. We just have to believe that Katz has given him complete control even though the last last time he did that, the result was devastating to the Oilers. I’m undecided on who should coach the Oilers, but I don’t think that KH has to decide right now.

      • toprightcorner

        Holland was NOT chosen because he can work with the OBC, it was the exact opposite. Holland is the most respected GM over the past 20 years, there is nobody in any organization that will direct or control any decision Holland wants to make. They are all piss ants compared to Holland and his successful track record.

        Lowe will not be fired, he hasn’t worked on the hockey side for 3 years and is running the OEG group and with Katz health, Lowe is trusted to continue working on that side of operations.

        MacT may or may not get fired. He is in charge of the Condors and did quite well. I would not be suprised if he stays in that position.

        If anyone thinks Holland will be controlled by the OBC, they are delusional. Holland will dictate how things will work and that he makes the decisions and everyone will listen becasue it is Ken-freakin-Holland.

        Holland was probably the only GM out there that has the clout to make whatever changes he wants and to clean up any past OBC interference.

        Holland did not leave a cushy job in DET where he has been loyal for 35 years to go to a team that does not give you 110% control to do whatever he wants.

        If Nicholson told Holland that there were certain people he could not fire, Holland would have hung up the phone.

        • Spydyr

          Lowe was at the Oilers draft table last year but some people still fall for the Oilers propaganda that he has nothing to do with hockey operations.

          Actions speak louder than words.

          • Bingo, and I would put money on it, he will be there again and probably drag his son along, where did this notion of Mac-T is running Bakersfield, up until a few weeks ago, that was never advertised, just the organization trying to sell us that Mac-T is actually useful for anything?

          • toprightcorner

            Lowe was there in place of Katz on behalf of OEG because of Katz health issues. Katz wasn’t at the draft like he usually is. Lowe never went on stage, though Katz son did. Lowe was likely his babysitter.

            The conspiracy theorists will make up anything to tie Lowe into making every decision for the Oilers becasue they have nothing better to do.

          • Spydyr

            Some people will always make excuses for the Oilers even when confronted with facts. Bottom line is that Lowe was at the Oilers draft table last year.

            If you don’t think Lowe has a seat at the red wine summits you have not been paying attention to the Oilers in the Katz era.

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          I never said Holland would be controlled by the OBC I said “work with”, there is a lot of diffferance btwnm control and work with. I have and still do believe the OBC has had a lot of influence over the decisions that have been made on the Hockey Ops side, and I think they will continue to have a lot of influence.

          One of the reasons I believe the Oilers chose Holland is because of the fact that he likes to get input from a lot of people, this would work well for the OBC. With that said I still hope that KLowe and MacT retire r go do something else for OEG that is not connected to the Oilers on ice decisions.

          Time will tell if the OBC goes anywhere, I would like to see them go, but judging by what we have seen the last how many years I just dont see it happening

    • toprightcorner

      Firstly, Holland has only been on the job for a week and he has more important things to do before the draft than just cleaning house.

      MacT has been in charge of the Condors this year and I would say he must have done a decent job based on their successful season. Yes, everyone wants him fired, but if he is capable of running the farm system, it takes one more thing off of Hollands shoulders.

      There is no way MacT sways Hollands decision making even a little bit. Thats what being the most respected GM over the past 20 years gives you.

  • Ratt McNuge

    Getting the right coach is important, but the Oilers could have hired Scotty Bowman in his prime last year and they still would have missed the playoffs. Get that roster fixed, Holland. The coach can’t lace on some skates and play.

  • Druds

    OBC drinking game….everytime somebody says OBC we drink, everytime Serious Gord disagrees with anything, we drink. Oh and serious says we should hire young guys…mmmmm I think Eakins was a young guy ….How did that work out Gord?

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Shocker. A move made by Ken Holland will have us up in arms. Surprised it didn’t take less time to do. I may have been on board with the hire when it happened, but now my tune has changed. Go watch Ryan Robinson’s video on the hire and you’ll change your tune too. OBC still employed, no word on any other candidates, and now there’s rumours we might sell the sun and moon to get Subban (I love PK, I don’t love giving up 50 goal man Leon).

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        No way would that trade happen, why would the Oilers trade a guy whose point total is only going up for a defenceman who is trending down. I like Subban but not for Leon, that would be asinine. Leons and his contract are a bargain right now and Leon is still young yet, I dont think Leon has even reached his full potential yet

    • toprightcorner

      Holland has been employed for a week and has been scouting the Condors since then and is now having meetings with amateur and pro scouting departments. He is doing things based on priority. The draft is coming up and then pre-free agency discussions, that is much more important than firing a bunch of people because the fans want some heads on a platter.

      Holland will fire people that HE thinks should be fired, not who the fans or even Nicholson say should be fired. That is why Holland was hired, he will not bend to pressure from anyone to make a decision.

    • OilerForLife

      Don’t worry, that won’t happen for Subban,unless they throw in Rinne, Arvidsson,Tolvanen and they take Lucic and Russell,with no other stipulations.

  • godot10

    Dave Tippett has the same resume as Todd McLellan. He sustained an already successful team built by others in Dallas but couldn’t win a cup. And then never accomplished much in Arizona.

  • Ken Holland

    Krueger is going to be one of the best coaches in the league next season. I predict the Sabres being in the playoffs.

    When MacT was asked if firing Krueger on skype while he was scouting for the team, his response was “this was not about being fair to Ralph”, which I find extremely unprofessional.

    I do not think many members of the OBC will be around after the draft. We lost out on the best coaching candidate because of their actions. This needs to be addressed.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I truly hope your right about the OBC being gone, but I dont see Katz letting it happen, just shuffle some titles around and still leave them advising in the backround

    • toprightcorner

      How many OBC members working in the hockey operations side do you think there are? What is your definition of the OBC?

      There are only 4 members of the OBC.

      Wayne Gretzky – more of an ambassador than an employee. He is not a negative part of the team
      Kevin Lowe – Hasn’t worked in the hockey side for over 3 years.
      Craig MacTavish – currently in charge of running the Condors, who had a very successful season
      Paul Coffey – very, very, very part-time skills coach that maybe flies in once a month for a couple of days to talk to players.

      That’s the scary OBC that is employed by the Oilers.

      Gretzky should never and will never be fired

      MacT – sure, fire him if you want and find a replacement to run the Condors

      Coffey – never understood the hire based on him never being around. Oilers need to hire a full-time skills coach to split time with the Oilers and Condors to constantly work with players and their development and fly to see high end prospects once a month.

      Lowe – Won’t be fired, trusted by Katz to run the OEG side with his failing health

      Everyone complains about the OBC, but they have no clue what that means

        • toprightcorner

          Howson has been with the Oilers for 18 years over two different stints, but he is NOT part of the OBC. He never played with the Oilers in the 80’s, that is a requirement to be apart of the OBC.

          Howson needs to be fired, as does Sutter and Green, simply because they are terrible at their jobs. They are in charge of player development and involved in pro-scouting, 2 of the Oilers weakest departments.

          Calling any long term Oilers employee a part of the OBC is a true sign of lack of knowledge and an oberabundance of miss placed hatred.

          • Dallas Eakins Hair

            Disagree with the Howson has to have played to be considered a piece within the OBC, It is his connection to the Oilers from being in the mix for all these years and going and then coming back to the Oilers…that speaks volumes IMHO

          • Dallas Eakins Hair

            Hatred? Really? I think of it more as the wrong people still in the mix contributing to the Oilers failure, the same people in charge year after year after year of failure, yeah no issues there.

      • #97TRAIN

        I agree.Everyone on here wants everyone else to think they have been a fly on the the wall in meetings and they know what goes on in those meetings. Just gives people something to gripe about.

        • Exactly, if they stop showing up , i will stop griping, if retained, I am out as far as next year goes, or the year after, or the year after that, until they are justifiably dismissed for good, as in permanently. We the fans have all suffered enough idiocy from the 3 stooges.

        • toprightcorner

          I don’t see anywhere that Mark Messier is an employee of the Oilers or OEG anymore. He was hired as an adviser in 2014 by MacT, but he left to be a spokesperson with Rogers when PC was hired. He may do appearances at golf tournaments for the Oilers, but that is about it.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Gretzky I dont include in the OBC because I think he is more of a brand ambassador. Coffey’s hiring seemed more symbolic, did he really have any input on defence? sure doesnt seem like it, I am baffled as to why they bought him in when he never really was seen to be doing much, waste of money if you ask me

  • Slipknot 8

    Tippett is not the coach these kids need.
    Also, a 19-22-7 record with that Oiler team was a miracle & I’d like to point out Tambellinni dithering cost the Oilers at the end.

  • toprightcorner

    I am tired of people throwing around the term OBC when they have zero clue what that even is.

    How many OBC members working in the hockey operations side do you think there are? What is your definition of the OBC?

    Everyone thinks that anyone in management for longer than 5 years is in the OBC but that isn’t the case

    There are only 4 members of the OBC that I can think of, please let me know if I am missing everyone. The OBC are former Oilers from the 80’s that are employed by the Oilers.

    Wayne Gretzky – more of an ambassador than an employee. He is not a negative part of the team
    Kevin Lowe – Hasn’t worked in the hockey side for over 3 years.
    Craig MacTavish – currently in charge of running the Condors, who had a very successful season
    Paul Coffey – very, very, very part-time skills coach that maybe flies in once a month for a couple of days to talk to players.

    That’s the scary OBC that is employed by the Oilers. People think that if you fired all of the OBC (excluding Gretzky) that the Oilers will be fixed. So firing Lowe who has nothing to do with the Oilers and Coffey who works abbout 15 days a year are going to help the Oilers? Sure, fire MacT, but that isn’t going to fix the real problem

    People throw out OBC club thinking that is the reason for the Oilers failures when it is the tiniest piece of the puzzle.

    The biggest issues are the long-serving management staff for the Oilers who have been there for multiple GM’s.

    Scott Howson – VP player development – 18 years in total
    Duane Sutter – VP Player Personel – 9 years
    Bob Green – Director Player Personel – 6 years
    Bill Scott – Cap Mgmt and Assistant to POHO – 6 years

    Pro Scouts (Oilers only have 2 Pro Scouts!!!!)
    Chris Cichocki – Pro Scout – 10 years
    Paul Messier – Pro Scout – 4 years

    Howson and Sutter have been around for most of the worst hockey of the Oilers and being in charge of player personel and player development, have been monumentla failures in those positions. They are some of the biggest problems.

    Bob Green has done okay on the Amateur Scouting side, other than pushing for Reinhart, but his overseeing of the Pro Scouts has been terrible. Holland should replace him if he can

    Bill Scott – I give him a bit of a pass. Sure, he is in charge of the cap, but I doubt he had any say other than telling PC if they could fit a player under the cap. PC never cared about the future cap, just current cap. Not sure he was too involved in any decisions. A capoligist is a capoligist so I don’t think a change will garner any improvement.

    To me, this is the group that needs to see the biggest change. If you improve these positions, it doesn’t matter if MacT is still employed by the Oilers.

    I still cannot believe the Oilers only have 2 pro scouts and Messier is only part time, especially with no analytics department helping them sort through the trash. Oilers need to have at least 8 full-time pro scouts, 5 for the NHL and 2 for the AHL looking at other teams prospects and 1 for Europe. Oilers have 11 amateur scouts, which is a good number.

    Holland had 5 pro scouts in North America, 4 pro scouts in Europe. 6 amateur scouts in North America and one in Europe. I expect Holland to not only fire the existing pro scouts but to increase the number of pro scouts to at least what he had in DET.

    The OBC is a bit of an issue, but not as big of an issue as the rest of management.

  • toprightcorner

    The one thing I really like about Tippet’s teams is that they always competed hard every night. He didn’t have much talent in PHX, but they were still a hard team to play against, they just couldn’t score. All his teams were dogged on the puck and always gave it 110% every game. That is one of the biggest areas that the Oilers lack, too many players do not compete very hard for long stretches.

    Tippet played a defensive structure in PHX because OEL was his best player and he didn’t have any offense after Doan, he had no choice. In DAL, he had offensive players and they scored a lot of goals, but they played very responsibly defensively. I don’t see him stifling the Oilers offense.

    The negatives are that even if he isn’t as tough as Hitch, he is cut from similar cloth and that was not well received by players last year. Is Tippet too close to Hitch? It could be close enough to be risky to invest in Tippet if the players don’t respond to him.

    As a coach, I think Todd Nelson could be a great fit with the young group. He builds great relationships and is an excellent communicator and players love to play for him. He may not have much NHL experience but has had great success in the AHL.

    Tippet would be perfect for 3 years. He would bring stability and accountability to the players and get the players to play to the utmost of their abilities. Also with the Oilers Cap issues, they need to squeeze everything out of every player because there are not going to be any significant additions in the next year or two. Problem is, he would only come on a 5 year deal and that could be too long for his type of coaching.

    If the Oilers had some more scoring depth, I would think Nelson would be perfect to build the right culture, but not sure if he has the expirience to make a weaker depth lineup as successfull.

    While neither coach is perfect, both would be fine options. If I were to choose, I would go with Nelson, only because I think the risk is too great that Tippets style could be harder for the team to accept considering how they hated Hitch’s style. Nelson would be a very welcoming change to the players and that may end up being the best coach to get the best out of his players over the long term.

  • Kevwan

    I don’t like to hack on Tippett. The guy has coached 1114 regular season NHL games and won a Jack Adams award. He’s hardly chopped liver. But he hasn’t coached a playoff team since 2011 and the league has changed so much since then.

    Nothing against Tippett – I just think Nelson has a better chance in today’s NHL

  • Oilerman99

    Nelson has a way with getting the most out of his younger players. He is a players coach and his players love playing for him. Tippett too defensively regimented. We don’t need that.
    We screwed up hiring the wrong Todd last time. Lets make things right finally.