Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW(TE): Dave Tippett

According to Bob McKenzie, the Edmonton Oilers’ coaching gig is Dave Tippett’s to lose. McKenzie reported yesterday that not only is Tippett the leading candidate for the job, but he’s also currently the only candidate.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. Would you approve of Ken Holland’s decision to hire the veteran Tippett to be the next Oilers head coach? If not, which direction do you think they should go?

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Tippett earned his first NHL head coaching gig in 2002-03 with the Dallas Stars shortly after the end of the Ken Hitchcock era. He coached the Stars for six seasons, reaching the playoffs in the first five but missing them in 2008-09, which ultimately led to his firing.

Immediately after that, Tippett was hired by the Phoenix Coyotes. He would lead a franchise lost in the desert to three of their most successful seasons since relocating from Winnipeg, including a trip to the Western Conference Final in 2011-12. After that playoff run, though, the team declined, and Tippett’s Coyotes missed the playoffs in five-straight seasons. He was let go just one year after John Chayka took over as Coyotes’ general manager as the two parties didn’t see eye to eye.

In 14 years as a head coach at the NHL level, Tippett has made the playoffs eight times and he’s made it past the first round three times. He won the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year in 2009-10 when his staunch defensive style led the Coyotes to a 50-win season, their best in franchise history in either Winnipeg or Phoenix.

Tippett is known for his old school, defensive-oriented style, which, at a glance, makes his sound a lot like his predecessor in Dallas, Ken Hitchcock. That said, while there are similarities between the styles of the two veteran bench bosses, Tippett is known as much more of a player’s coach than Hitchcock. Part of the reason, it seems, the Oilers ultimately decided not to bring back Hitchcock for another season was because the team didn’t respond to his hard style.

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Here’s an article from a few years back at Canucks Army when the team was looking for a replacement for Alain Vigneault…

Tippett is definitely a “player’s coach”; he gives ice-time to whoever is having success, no matter what line he plays on. One example is Rob Klinkhammer, who had played a grand total of 16 games in the NHL before coming to the Coyotes’ organization. He started in the AHL, got called up to fill a roster spot lost to injury, scored in his first game, and remained with the big team for the rest of the season. He also keeps criticism of his players in-house, which helps with trust.

The team has switched gears significantly from Gretzky to Tippett, which is most apparent in the Coyotes’ draft selections over the past few years. Under Gretzky, offensively gifted players like Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Turris, and Viktor Tikhonov made the NHL roster immediately after being drafted, and in retrospect that stunted their development. With Tippett, the Coyotes have taken a much more conservative approach; players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brandon Gormley, and the aforementioned Boedker have received more time in the minor and major-junior leagues to work on their games and develop into solid two-way players.

That sounds like something right out of Ken Holland’s playbook. As we know, Holland loves to let players develop in the minor leagues and never rushes players to the NHL level right out of the gates. In his time in Dallas, we saw Tippett develop a handful of good players, like James Neal, Jussi Jokinen, Loui Eriksson, Matt Niskanen, and Trevor Daley. That wasn’t the case in Arizona, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson is really the only jewel developed during his time in the desert. But is that a Tippett issue or a scouting issue?

The Oilers are in an interesting situation right now. While the organization wants to see success in the short-term, there’s also a major focus on the long-term. The Oilers have a roster right now that might be good enough to make the playoffs if everything goes right, but the largest reason for optimism is a wave of very solid prospects working their way up from AHL Bakersfield.

What say you, Nation? Is Tippett the right guy to lead the Oilers through this semi-rebuild? He’s known as a player’s coach but is he too old school for today’s game? 

  • TKB2677

    Tippett isn’t the “ONLY” candidate, he’s the leading guy. I heard John Shannon yesterday on Stauffer’s show list off 6 guys that are in the hunt with Tippett being the top one. I just heard Friedman on the Calgary station this morning list off a couple of guys saying it’s down to 5 or 6 but Tippett is the top guy.

  • Derzie

    I’m no expert, but as a fan, Tippett strikes me as a boring, clog-up the neutral zone coach. Maybe that works when you have McLotto as the wild card. Holland is showing promise as dismantler-in-chief. Let’s see his assembly skills.

  • firstName

    “The Oilers have a roster right now that might be good enough to make the playoffs…”
    Right. The same roster that finished 25th in the league and second last in the awful Pacific division.

    • Serious Gord

      Perfectly healthy, well-coached and the goalie plays at a career-best level and yes they likely are right on the bubble for a wild card spot. Nothing more than that though.

  • toprightcorner

    Tippet had always been good at getting as much but if his players as possible, but he is more old school than new era and the old school coaches seem to have less success these days. If Tippet tells Holland he plans to okay with pace, quick transition and hard for check, then I am fine with him. If he says he will coach the same way he always has then hard pass.

    The biggest key is being able to communicate and build a relationship with the young players.

    I am afraid Tippet is closer to Hitch in style and being tough on players

    • Shameless Plugger

      By all accounts the players absolutely love to play for Tippett. Read the Mark Spector article where Shane Doan (playing for the coyotes) said he was leaving the rink after showering, doing media after a game and there were like 13 guys from the Stars waiting to see Tippett after the game. He’s absolutely the opposite of Hitchcock.

  • TKB2677

    What I think has been one of the biggest issues with he Oilers is sure they lack depth but the biggest thing is for years they have not got as much out of their players like other teams do. I have seen less talented teams outwork and beat the Oilers year after year. The Coyotes coached by Tippett used to beat the Oilers for fun playing a bunch of guys who were mostly 3rd and 4th liners.

    For all the people who make statements about Tippett’s coaching style being boring. Button called his style static. If all you have is a bunch of 3rd and 4th liners, are you going to play an up tempo skill game? I doubt it.

  • Spydyr

    Todd Nelson if he would came back here after being embarrassed by having Mac-T on the bench babysitting him.

    Honestly has anyone ever seen that before or since? Freaking Oilers.

  • Serious Gord

    An old school ownership and friends of said owner hires an old school GM who appears about to hire an old school coach.

    The old school fans must be overjoyed…

    Does anyone see Tippet as the coach who is going to coach this team to a cup?

      • TruthHurts98

        It appears Holland is meeting with him today and he’s getting hired. I don’t see this going well, but if he gets this team winning again no one will care. I strongly disliked the Holland hire at first but I didn’t know much about him. The fact he’s excellent at drafting, willing to let prospects develop properly and has started to dismantle the OBC is a huge plus in my book. Miles to go obviously and out of us fans’ control. I hope this works out. It better work out.

        • Serious Gord

          Go look at the reasons for that excellent drafting record. It was based on a huge competitive advantage in scouting that was already in place by the time Holland arrived by Jimmy Devellano.

    • Serious Gord

      BN is 65. KH is 63. Tippet will be 58 in 90 days.

      ‘Yesterday’s’ management team.

      Hockey is just beginning to experience the revolution in analytics. This coming season all player movement on the ice will be tracked. From that point on player evaluation and scouting will flip heavy towards analytics.

      “Gut analytics” will be obsolete.

      In the MLB which is the most committed of the pro leagues to analytics there has been a purge in the past 5-10 years of old management. Looking at the top ten teams in the the power rankings right now, only one of the ten has a manager who is over 50 – the cubs manager is 52. most of the rest are in their mid forties.

      At the General manager level the ages are: 52, 42, 45,47,51,34, 39,62,35 and 47.

      (The exception at 62 is dombroski of the red sox who was one of the pioneers of analytics assessment and he has two assistant GMs in their early forties who he reportedly relies heavily on. So heavily reliant on analytics are the sox that they actually had committee just inside from the dugout telling the manager what to do. This has since been outlawed by the league.)

      The move is towards youth in every aspect of pro sports. Meanwhile the Oilers, naturally, are going the opposite direction.

      • Derian Hatcher

        Both my sons had a high school math teacher who was in his 60’s. He had those teens in the palm of his hand with his teaching skills and the relationships he built with his students. Simply put, the man excelled at 2 things: relaying information so the students could learn and achieve, and pushing the students to get the best out of themselves. This “old guy” is their favorite teacher of all time.

        Now I know that a math teacher and a hockey coach are miles apart, but this age argument and “old school” excuse is lazy and lame. In fact, Bob Boughner, Mike Yeo are two younger coaches who have been let go.

        Lastly, perhaps we should Holland and the new coach (whomever it may be) a solid chance before writing them off. I know the Oilers have been a tire fire for over a decade, but if we are pounding on the new guys before even giving them a shot, it says more about us as fans than it does about them.

        • Serious Gord

          You are correct. Math teachers and NHL Hockey coaches trying to win the most coveted trophy in pro sports are miles apart.

          As I have noted in a later thread – the only coach to win a cup over the age of 56 since expansion (which is a far back as I looked) has been Scotty Bowman. Tippet will be 58 in August and the Oil haven’t a hope of being cup competitive until he’s 61.

          Old School is apt.

          • Serious Gord

            Sweetweb: there’s old – 50-55 and there’s old 60-plus. On ice it is well-documented that the peak years are 24-29. The evidence in coaching is that that sweet-spot is 45-52 or so. Tippet has already passed that age and will be over 60 by the time the oil has any chance of being cup competitive.

            And the move IS towards younger coaches that is undeniable. A few coaches that are above average age does not disprove that fact.

        • Serious Gord

          Actually Theo’s hiring was the beginning of league-wide serious commitment to analytics. That was 2002.

          Sabre metrics began in earnest outside of the pros in ‘77 and the first rogue GM to commit to it was in 1997. That’s only five years before the Epstein hire.

          Hockey, for very understandable reasons, has been much slower to use analytics and it plays a smaller role in decision-making even now.

          That all changes this year with individual player tracking. It will create loads Of individual player data – a first in what is a team sport.

          Very quickly analytics will transform practically every aspect of the game.

          • sweetweb

            Baseball had analytic departments after Epstein hire but teams still had old school baseball mentality just like hockey does. What I’m saying is after Epstein broke 2 curses, everybody is now all in on data and analytics. Like it or not until a NHL GM like Chayka or Dubas wins a Cup, analytics will always take a backseat.

          • Serious Gord

            Like I said Epstein’s hire “…was the beginning of league-wide commitment to analytics.” Kind of like the end of the colour barrier where took a while for all of the teams to hire blacks it took a few years for the league to move on from the old school evaluation methods.

            And those methods continue to change rapidly all things considered – Houston, for now, seems to be in the vanguard.

      • sweetweb

        You know it took DECADES for MLB to take analytics seriously right? It took Theo Epstein winning 2 championships until teams starting hiring younger analytic minds.

      • dabears318

        I work in analytics. This will be 95% hype and 5% applicable. Currently it’s more like 1% applicable.

        You still need humans on the end making the final decisions – and I would trust an experienced GM like Holland 10/10 times over someone like John Chayka. Analytics is a tool – not the answer.

      • sweetweb

        Wow you are too much. “The evidence in coaching is that that sweet-spot is 45-52 or so.” What evidence? The 2 coaches in the Cup finals this year and last is above your “sweet spot”

        You also said “And the move IS towards younger coaches that is undeniable.” It is deniable buddy. Besides D. J. Smith who was hired today is a young hired?

    • Randaman

      Babcock is an old school coach. Tochett is the same. A lot of coaches in the NHL are old school coaches.
      What’s your point? Do you honestly think Tippet ever had a team that could compete for a cup??

      • Serious Gord

        Didn’t know this was expressly asked at me.

        Yes Babcock is old school. And he may not be the leafs coach this time next year. He has been criticized by many for his poor in game tactics as well.

        I’m not sure if Tocchet is old school. And he’s won how many cups as GM? And he was fired by Tampa as coach in the process that brought in Yzerman.

        He now coaches in AZ – likely the only team that would take him.

  • KootenayDan

    If you actually watch hockey you would know Tippetts teams always played a very solid game structure, he would be a great choice. Old school what a bunch of hooey only a millennial would say that.

    • Serious Gord

      “hooey” LOL. Written like an old fogey.

      One thing is pretty much bankable – that “solid game structure” which I prefer to call “plodding”, will make for some painfully boring hockey even with McDavid and the other high-skill players in the line-up.

  • blobbo

    I don’t know much about coaches but I don’t know if Tippett is much different than McLellan, a safe bet given his experience. Nelson would be my choice but he’s maybe more of a gamble. I just want to see someone newer, not just the most experienced guy available at the moment.

    Oh well, Eakins didn’t work here and Gulu didn’t work in Calgary. Carry on. Win more games and I won’t complain.