Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Tippett Effect

Hello Nation,

If the word on the street is to be believed, then Dave Tippet will be new Oilers GM Ken Holland’s first hire after a few dismissals. How are Oilers fans supposed to feel about this potential hire? Is it a misstep for Holland in hiring an old hand who the game may have passed by? Or is it a savvy move that could turn the Oilers’ fortunes around?

Tippett hasn’t coached in the NHL for two seasons, since he parted ways with the Arizona Coyotes after eight seasons there. After spending a year out of the NHL, then was hired last summer as a Senior Advisor with the new Seattle NHL Expansion team, a decision that ultimately left him out of the coaching caravan for 2018-19. But now he’s back in the mix, and appears to be at the top of Holland’s list as the successor to Ken Hitchcock. Now, what can reasonably be expected from a Tippett-led roster in an attempt to turn a hapless team into a playoff competitor?

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Let’s take a look at his first season after taking over from Wayne Gretzky as coach of the Coyotes in the summer of 2009.

Coyotes under Gretzky (2008-09) Coyotes under Tippett (2009-10)
CF% 48.69 (22nd) CF% 52.04 (7th)
SCF% 49.43 (17th) SCF% 52.62 (5th)
SCGF% 48.64 (19th) SCGF% 52.79 (8th)
HDCF% 49.83 (12th) HDCF% 53.39 (4th)
HDGF% 47.22 (24th) HDGF% 50.64 (13th)
HDSV% .804 (27th) HDSV% .817 (18th)
SH% 7.85 (18th) SH% 7.82 (19th)
SV% .923 (11th) SV% .927 (6th)
PDO 1.001 PDO 1.005
PP% 14.5 (28th) PK% 76.8 (28th) PP% 14.6 (28th) PK% 84.5 (6th)
GF 205 (26th) GA 249 (7th most) GF 211 (24th) GA 196
Goal Differential -44 Goal Differential +15
Western Conference finish 13th (79pts) Western Conference finish 4th (107pts)

For those unfamiliar with some of these advanced stats, SC (scoring chance) and HDC (high-danger chance) essentially mean chances that are closer to the net– in and around the crease– or that might come off of a rush or rebound (you can find a comprehensive glossary here).

What these do tell us, though is that the Coyotes saw an improvement in nearly every category, albeit some more meaningful than others, but they seemed to play a better possession game and forcing the puck more often towards the opponent’s net rather than their own.

The advanced numbers are important, because they show that there was substance contributing to improvement in some of the more traditional categories that the Oilers need help in.

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The Penalty Kill saw a vast improvement under Tippett which is something the Oilers desperately need after finishing pitifully at 30th (74.8%) last season, and perhaps the most important factor in earning a playoff berth, reducing the goal differential. The Oilers finished with a -42 goal differential, a number that is nowhere near playoff respectability (no playoff team made the 2018-19 playoffs with a negative goal differential; Dallas’ was the lowest at +8).

Though the change in goals for was nearly negligible from Gretzky to Tippett, which does bode well for an Oilers roster already starved for goals and depth scoring, Tippett never inherited two 100-point scorers in 2009-10, so perhaps there’s an opportunity to maximize on an advantage that he’s never had. His highest scoring player (since the ’04-’05 lockout) was Mike Ribeiro with the ’07-’08 Dallas, and highest goal-scorer was Radim Vrbata with 35 goals for the ’11-’12 Coyotes. Perhaps this is a symptom of playing in Tippett’s system, but he’s regularly had eight to ten 10+ goal-scorers on the roster, so although players may not expect to break any career highs, depth scoring can increase with the advantage of building that around two all-world talents in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

But ultimately, it’s that last line in the side-by-side comparisons between Gretzky and Tippett that might be the most telling (and quite frankly, the most important to us Oilers fans). Tippett took a hapless Coyotes team under Gretzky and turned them into a Western Conference contender in one year. This is what we want to see: immediate change. Can Tippett pull the same turnaround with this Oilers roster as he did with the Coyotes’ one in 2009-10? Time will have to tell on that, but what Tippett does seem to possess is an ability to implement a structure that focuses on defensive responsibility, limiting the hemmoraging of goals, and putting the team in a better position to take advantage of tight games.

Maybe Gretzky made more a mess of things than they actually were when Tippett inherited the Coyotes’ roster from him in the summer of 2009 (remember that this was also the era when the team’s ownership was such a mess that the NHL would have to end up running them). But in the end, I think it’s important to keep in mind that Tippett could only be here for the short-term, something he’s proven he can use as ample time to change the fortunes of a drowning team and a fanbase eager for change.

But really, as good as Shane Doan was as a player, Tippett’s never had a Connor McDavid to work with. Few teams can boast such an X-Factor.

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  • KootenayDan

    A smart respected gm and an excellent coach and posters are concerned. Apparently didn’t really matter who was hired the millennials will decree they are too old and the game has passed them by. Let’s give them the rope to do the job the right way as opposed to what this team has been getting for the last decade.

    • Oilcountry97

      Exactly how i am thinking about the hirings as well. I dont think the game has passed either of the 2 by. Detroit had so many years of making playoffs that eventually they would have to go through a rebuild. From what ive read the owners in detroit wanted holland to push for the playoffs and things eventually caught up to them. Tippet had some poor teams to coach in arizona for the years he was there. I would like to see how he does with two elite forwards in mcdavid and driasitle

  • Spydyr

    Bobby Burger is hired for his ties to Lowe through hockey Canada. Bob hires Holland who had his best years a decade ago. Holland hires a coach who has not coached in two years and has only had limited success in the past.

    I would have much preferred if they hired people that are the future of the game not its past. The game has changed a lot the last few years. Time will tell. I hope I am wrong.

  • BlueHairedApe

    I’m cautiously optimistic with this signing. Tippet had limited success but with a very limited roster. One could say his team may have over achieved with the tools he had available. Also until I see evidence to the contrary I don’t buy into the theory that the game has passed him by or he’s too old. He’s only 3 or 4 years older than the coaches of Boston and St Louis. I’m sure he will adapt to any new styles of play just like many current coaches have had to do.

  • The future never comes

    Holland has given me some hope so far with some terminations and the Nygard signing. I would have liked to see Nelson come back as coach but I think Holland is trying to stabilize the organization with a well tested coach in Tippet. He most likely sees it as less of a gamble and that he could focus on better player procurement than holding a rookie coaches hand throughout the process. Still, although a couple people have been let go there needs to be some more pro scouting cuts and replacement with competent staff members. Serious question, if Holland has full autonomy – what in the actual F does Bob get paid to do?

    • Joy S. Lee

      Actually, truth be known, I think Bob’s value is in the questions he gets to ask everyone representing rival organizations. That’s the media’s job, ask inquiring questions, keep the game interesting. If it produces pertinent intel, that can be considered valuable insider data for the club.

      In short, if Trump owned the Oilers, Bob would be CIA, like most of the mainstream media. 😉

  • ed from edmonton

    The turn around in Arizona is quite remarkable but needs to be put into context. Wayne Gretzky was coach of the Yotes for PR purposes and had zero qualifications. Any professional coach that followed him was bound to show some improvement. The Yotes at that time were rathe challenged offensively but had solids goaltending. The improvement during Tippet’s first year was tightening thing up defensively. The Oil have the best one two offensive punch in hockey but goaltending is a black hole. Quite a different dynamic here. Unless Holland can pull a rabbit out of a hat and find next year’s Jordan Biinington any coach will be challenged to show much improvement.

    • Oilerz4life

      Yes, it’s that time of year again. How many times have we seen new coaches and managers in Edmonton? The media pumps the tires on new signings and all that. Blow smoke up everyone’s yahoo this time of year. I will believe it when I see it. Don’t care about the new euro signing, we’ve seen that story before too. This player, that player, this coach, that coach, gm’s, change up the jerseys, new image, new building. Who cares? This is sports. Win. Talk about culture. Ice a competitive team. I will believe it when I see it. Not sold on anyone just yet. Who cares about any of the bulogna? I would rather enjoy the summer and get pumped about the Raptors right now.

        • Oilerz4life

          Oh ok so you are not allowed to check in on the Oilers unless you take it overly serious in the off season, and believe the same broken record. Spare me.

      • Reg Dunlop

        I’m watching the 1st b-ball game since Larry Bird played. Leonard is EXCELLENT. Who is the hyper aggressive clown with the Grecian formula beard courtside? The cameras constantly show his antics. Very annoying.

          • Oscar

            You’re a refreshing breath of fresh air, Oilerz4life, among the stagnant fans that make up the over-the-top, shameless, delirious, grandiose, bombastic, pompous, pretentious, egotistical, ostentatious meanderings of the average Oil Nation member … props … !

    • Spydyr

      They were hired because of their pasts. So they were judged by the past to be the right people for the jobs.

      How much time would you like to give them?Another two-three years outside the playoffs? The team HAS to make the playoff next season.

      • Oilcountry97

        Well holland has been gm for about 2 weeks now. Still the whole summer left. I agree they need to make playoffs this year but still they should get more than a couple weeks after being hired to start criticizing them. Tippet could do good things with this roster, ive read a few things about him being good with the players he coaches so maybe he can get good things out of the team. See what the rest of the summer brings before you start critisizing them

      • Joy S. Lee

        HAS to? I disagree. Loads of pressure to make the playoffs, sure, but they’ll survive missing another year if that’s what happens, because the sun will surely rise. I might suggest that they need to be a solid, long-term and legitimate contender within two, though… which would be just around the time they start to get some cap space and their promising youth turns into real NHL players, equating to depth on the ice with room in the cap. It is seldom as hopeless as some like to think.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Who is your team, Oscar? They got lots of Cups?? Braggarts often come out in the wash as pathetic blowhards, while doomsayers who stalk the less fortunate with stories of impending doom are worse. Are you any of those?

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          He’s a Flames troll, and he has been trolling a long time, this is one of his many accounts here, problem is he keeps getting banned by his username and IP[ addresses all the time everywhere so he has to keep changing nics.

  • TruthHurts98

    I think Tippett could be a good coach, but really does anything change with the OBC still here??? Until Burger Bob, Kevin (Tier One) Lowe and Howson are shown the door, it’s hard to remain too optimistic. Sutter and MacT leaving is a start. Now finish the job. I’ve changed my view point on Holland a bit, I like his drafting record especially after the 1st round. Letting players develop is greatly needed in this franchise. Just imagine if PC wouldn’t have rushed JP or made any of his stupid trades… this team would be loaded with talent. I’m fine with waiting a couple years if that’s what it takes. I know most fans want the win now mentality installed immediately but that gets this team nowhere. Not in the cap era.

    • Dr.Drai29

      Shut up about then OBC. Most of them
      Have nothing to do with what happens. It’s just a sad excuse to feel better about us not being successful. We’ve had incompetent GMs for a decade or so. And garbage players and no goalie. Enough of this OBC stuff.

        • Serious Gord

          I think those reading this expect the next coach hired will be the guy behind the bench when the oil win their next cup.

          And I think those same readers see the path to that cup will take at least three seasons to complete.

          If Tippett is the coach he would be 61 at that time.

          I will point out that in the entire history of the awarding of the Stanley cup only one coach did it who was over the age of 56.

          And that was Scotty Bowman (age 69)

          I don’t think Mr. Tippett is capable of becoming the second – especially in the rapidlY changing times of today.

          • Joy S. Lee

            You know, it’s kind of funny how when you say the past doesn’t equal the future you are using statistics from the past to prove your point. Is that an oxymoron? Well, at the least it’s ironic. Like predicting in the same breath you’re using to say it can’t be predicted.

            In effect, you are ‘predicting’ that … future failure can be predicted by past success, based on age statistics. For a coach.

            But coaches don’t need big muscles, they only go into the corners intellectually. Aren’t age limitations truly meaningless in an intellectual pursuit? Most might even give the edge to the elders in those.

            Though I do get what you’re saying – and mostly agree – that new ideas are vital and innovators often win big. I’m with you there. But while innovation has a generational flavor matching each new era, age does bring wisdom and awareness, you know? These can actually coincide nicely with new ideas and innovation, if he’s the right coach at the right time. He’s not the only coach, and there’s a room full of youthful exuberance – innovators – at his beck and call. It’s not binary, definitive, a black or white thing … but your argument frames it that way. Sorry to have to tell you this, but you don’t know it all.

  • Koosh

    Klaus! Mah Boi. great first article on The Nation. Do you think that the Tippet Scenario in Phoenix is similar to that of Trotz coming out of Nash to coach both the Caps and Isles? The rhetoric was fairly similar. Personally I dont think that Tippet is in the same league as Trotz- but I also highly doubt he chokes out offence on a new team with a higher skill cap to run the same system he did in Arizona.

    • IRONman

      Oilers need balance and better defence from all players. McDavid leads in takeaway and every Oiler should be like that. No Sekera and no Klefbom killed the D for sure. A healthy D and Hitchcock would have had better success. Lots of holes to fill. Good GM. Good coach. Just make the playoffs then worry about it

    • Joy S. Lee

      Is Trotz a players’ coach? I saw in a recent article somewhere – sorry, I forget where – about Tippett’s first year in Arizona after leaving Dallas where a player – think it was Shane Doan – saw half the Stars team visit Tippett’s office after the game. When the entire team likes and respects the coach, not sure that can be overstated. He must be doing something right. Sounds like a great communicator.

      Sure, it’s anybody’s guess, but per the article his rep for getting the most out of teams with limited talent… Arizona: 107 points for goodness sake… so, I wouldn’t mind seeing a correlating storyline forming between he and Trotz, not whatsoever!

    • Joy S. Lee

      I may be wrong, but if memory serves, Ray Whitney might have been the Coyotes leading scorer the season they notched 107 points. Good player, but… I’m too lazy to look it up right now, but try imagining what exchanging Connor for Whitney might have done for Arizona, and then throw in Leon as a kicker, lol.

  • Well Tippett will bring a winning culture that the Oilers desperately need. Get ready for the dump and chase philosophy that made the Coyotes feared in his 8 years there and exactly the style of play that McD and Draisaitl love to play.

  • toprightcorner

    While I am not certain if Tippet is the best choice, I personally like Rocky Thompson or Todd Nelson for this young energetic team, I don’t think Tippet would be a bad choice.

    Everyone says he is too defensive of a coach, but I don’t think that is accurate. In Dallas, he had Modano, Arnott, Guerin and Zubov, the epitome of offensive players and they were not stifled at all. I still miss Zubov walking the blueline with the puck. His first year with Dallas, they score 45 more goals than the previous year and had six 20 goal scorers and 8 40 pt players. Even when Arnott and Guerin were traded, they put up a lot of goals. It wasn’t until Modano and Zubov were gone that their offensive production dropped and he played more defensive.

    When Tippet went to PHX, they had no talent so in order to win, he had to play defensive and just hoped they gave up less than the other team. This philosophy was also followed by MIN and NJ. Boring teams with no offensive talent. In PHX, he had Doan, but he was not an elite offensive talent. Whitney led the team in scoring for 2 years and then 5 years in a row the highest scorer was a defensman of Yandle and the OEK. When your best point producer is a dman for that long, you have a team that cannot score goals.

    Tippet had to change his strategy in order to try and win games and that meant a defensive first structure. I see Tippet as a coach that changes his style base on the players he has and in Edmonton, he had McDavid and Draisaitl and there is no chance that he will do anything to hurt their offense.

    Tippet will definitely implement more defensive structure to the team, something that has been lacking for years and something every successful team requires, but if people think they will turn into the Coyotes, they are mistaken.

    The one thing I know is that every team that Tippet has coached, they always competed hard for the puck and they were tough to play against. He always got the most out of his depth players and Edmonton has not had then for a decade. Under Tippet, I would expect the Oilers to compete much harder every night and if guys don’t play hard, they won’t play.

    If Tippet is hired, I think the key is to have some of the coaching staff to be young up and comers that are great at communicating with the younger generation. Someone along the lines of Viveros. Tippet can bring the experience but assistance should bring the relationship and positive energy for the players.

  • Hockey Bunker

    Results will be more impacted by how Holland fixes thw roster. Hitch was a top coach, arguably better than Tippett. Ditto McClellan. The roster is an expensive mess. Hopefully Holland fixes it quickly

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I think Tippett is a great coach, he know how to motivate guys and get them to give it their all every game, that is something the Oil need. Do I have concerns about the defence first thing, yes, I had the same concerns with Hitch in that in todays NHL coaches are finding way to beat the defnse first system. Yes we need a good solid defensive system, but it cant be sacrificed for offence either, this is where I think Hitch got bitten when he was coaching the Oilers, I think the Oilers got so focused on getting back to the defensive side when they had just got the offence going that it hurt the team.

    As long as Tippett adjust that for how the league has transitioned the game from when he coached it could work out okay, as I said Tippett has fielded good competitive teams with not a lot of star power on them as some of the team out there and the Yotes always seemed to be when they played the Oilers to never give up they always seemed to press the play, and that would all be good things for the Oilers to have Tippett drill into them to always go hard till the game is over.

    If Tippett is Hollands guy, then it isnt a bad choice IMHO it will be interested who comes to join him on the bench as assistants.

    • RJ

      Connor scored 116 this past season under Hitch for a lot of it. Drai had 50 goals (& 105 points), a lot of it under Hitch. Nurse had 41 points, a career high. If this is a result of a defence-first approach, then more is needed.

      The real problems is the last goalie the Oilers had sustained success with was Roloson and had very little offence other than the centres. A few puckmoving defencemen would also do wonders.

      But this has been repeated daily for a decade. Holland needs to check some of this off the list of things to do.

  • madjam

    Have generally thought Tippett got more out of his teams than would be seen as just respectable . They always seem to do better than expected and therefore being Oilers next coach should be seen with lot of optimism .

  • GK1980

    I think McLellen was a good coach and I still think he is.If you don’t have poorly built roster it doesn’t matter who your coach is, you will still lose.