Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Off the top of my head

Pretty much everybody keeping tabs on the Edmonton Oilers’ coaching situation — from those in the actual know to those just guessing — long ago arrived at the conclusion Dave Tippett will be named the next coach of the Oilers. The only question has been when that’ll be made official.

Based on what we heard this morning from within the relatively small group of NHL pundits with a history of getting the story first and getting it right more often than not — Bob McKenzie, Elliotte Friedman, Ryan Rishaug, Mark Spector and John Shannon, to name five — Tippett will be unveiled Tuesday.

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Spector and Shannon were first with that this morning — I know most fans don’t care who breaks stories, only that they provide the right information — and I expect we’ll get word from the Oilers soon enough a media availability has been scheduled for Tuesday. The expectation is POHO and GM Ken Holland will return from the NHL combine in Buffalo to make things official. Finally.


Dec 29, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett looks on prior to the game against the New York Rangers at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Like I said, Tippett’s name has been out there for a while. There’s been speculation, and it might be bang on, that the delay in having Holland name him has been because of financial considerations — dollars and term. Tippett has a job, as a senior advisor with the Seattle expansion group, so it’s not unreasonable if he was looking to push the pay scale to come here.

While that’s the likeliest scenario, I wonder if there’s a possibility the announcement has been delayed to give Tippett time to reach out to candidates who’ll make up his staff of assistant coaches so that the whole group can be announced at once. Mentioned so far, the likes of Jim Playfair, who spent six seasons in Arizona with Tippett as an assistant, Mark Lamb, who spent six seasons with him in Dallas, Newell Brown and Ray Whitney.

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I’ve got no inside information about whether Tippett has talked to any of them, but history tells us relationships matter and the connection Tippett has with Playfair and Lamb will play into things. Whitney? He played for Tippett in Arizona. The question is, how many assistants will Tippett bring in and what happens with the staff that worked under Todd McLellan and Ken Hitchcock?

Speculation has Trent Yawney joining McLellan in Los Angeles. As for Glen Gulutzan and Manny Viveiros, I can’t see both staying, but is there room for one of them? While Tippett has to be able to call his own shots, continuity matters. My sense is Viveiros was too often under-utilized in running the power play under McLellan and Hitchcock. That’s just my take. Might he stay?

We’ll get some, maybe most, of those questions answered when the Oilers stage that media availability between Stanley Cup games on Tuesday. Until then, like you, I’ll be tuning into Oilers Now to hear what host Bob Stauffer has to say today and reading between the lines while eye-balling the handful of names I trust on Twitter.


  • I don’t cheer for teams but I do cheer for stories and I can’t imagine a better one than the St. Louis Blues coming all the way off the deck to beat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final, which starts tonight. From dead-last to sipping from the Cup, the Blues would be a helluva tale to tell, but I don’t see it happening. Bruins in six games.
  • I’ve loved the NBA since I was a kid growing up in Vancouver and cheering for Fred Brown and the Seattle Supersonics in the early 1970’s, so I’ve got no problem jumping back on the Toronto Raptors’ bandwagon, even with Drake prancing around. With the Grizzlies in Vancouver face down on the hardwood since the moment they drafted Bryant Reaves, I leaned toward the Raptors after they drafted Vince Carter in 1998. I’d love it if they beat the Golden State Warriors, but I don’t see it.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Of course. Of course they’d pull the same crap again. Oh and lookie here! He’s an old fart who doesn’t about player development. Enjoy playing 8 minutes a night on the 4th line Nygård. Enjoying being used I effectively Benson! And hey Evan, enjoy being stuck on the 3rd pairing with someone who doesn’t compliment your skill set. And hey let’s round it off with a backup goalie is going to play less than 15 games!

    Everything’s gonna be A-OK

    • YFC Prez

      I mean. Instead of these old farts with long resumes coaching at the nhl level Holland could always try hiring a up and coming coach with a strong emphasis on fitness and a great hairdo. Youth is better option after all isn’t it?

      I don’t know if tippet is the right hire. But I do know player development is not the responsibility of a any nhl head coach, let alone Tippett That’s up to Holland to build a successful pipeline for development. That also happens be one of his strongest bodies of work in Detroit. If there is one thing we should be expecting a major improvement in with this team moving forward it’s player development.

      • Serious Gord

        Gotta qualify Holland’s rep for the wing’s player development pipeline with the fact that the talent in that pipeline was the best ever seen in the NHL outside of Sam Pollack’s days with the Habs. A pipeline full of crap is still going to put out crap in the end.

        • Qualify Holland’s rep? That’s funny. Holland was a part of the development pipeline from 1985 on, first as a scout, then as the director of amateur scouting for seven years, as assistant GM and then as GM. You’re not qualifying anything, you’re downplaying his role. Had the Red Wings drafting and development been terrible all those years on his watch, you’d be blaming much or most of it on him. That’s just you being you.

          • Serious Gord

            No. From wiki: Qualify – means to “make more specific”.

            It is well documented that the scouting team developed under Jim Devellano from 1982-1997 was a groundbreaking process where for the first time an NHL team made a serious effort to scout the talent in Europe.

            That pipeline – which Devellano developed – not Holland – mined the likes of Federov (drafted 74th) Lidstrom (53rd) Holmstrom (257th) Zetterberg (210th) Kronwall (29th) Konstantinov (221st) Kozlov (45th) and Datsyuk (171st) to fill that pipe that Holland undoubtedly benefitted from during his time then and that he won’t have with the oil.

            If you are going to claim that Holland managed the pipeline well you have to – yes, the correct term is “qualify” such a claim with the above dataset.

            This is no different than qualifying the lack of playoff success in AZ for Tippett by noting that he had almost no talent to work with. Surely Robin you agree with this later example why don’t you agree with the former?

          • Serious Gord

            And to further qualify the above:

            Here’s guy who found most if not all of those guys:


            “…he was hired as a scout by the Red Wings in 1990. Since then he has won four Stanley Cup Championships as a member of the Detroit Red Wings organization, in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008. Andersson, based in Stockholm, Sweden, scouts all over Europe including Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Russia, and has been responsible for the Red Wings drafting Tomas Holmström, Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzén, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Gustav Nyquist, Tomáš Tatar, and many others.[3][4][5]

            His scouting and player evaluation, along with that of former Director of Amateur Scouting Joe McDonnell and former Assistant General Manager Jim Nill, has been credited by Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland as the reason for the long term success of the Red Wings, specifically the ability of the team to find talented players late in the draft.[6]”

      • Just throwing it out there but as I recall, the last time the Oil hired an ‘up and coming’ coach with ‘a strong emphasis on fitness and a great hairdo’, it didn’t pan out all that well for him or the team (remember Chop Wood, Carry Water?). I hear, respect and appreciate your point, but having a good ‘flow’ shouldn’t necessarily be at top priority as much as a good CV that emphasizes experience as a masterful tactician of the current and evolving pro game, an excellent communicator and the ability to minimize any potential roster deficiencies until they can eventually be addressed by the GM via draft, development, trade, free agency or otherwise.

    • Towers-of-dub

      what do you know about Nygard that suggests he shouldn’t start his NHL career on the 4th line? What has he done to be gifted 1st line McDavid minutes?

  • Schmidt Head

    I feel the same about Tippett as I do/did about Holland…. largely ambivalent.

    Thinking of all the candidates mentioned for both jobs, there’s a case to be made for or against each of them.

    In searches like this, you make a list of all the best people, in order, that you can think of. First you eliminate those who are not available. Next, you eliminate those who aren’t interested. Then you pick the best of what’s left.

    That’s likely what happened in each case. My guess is that the net result will be one of three possibilities 1. the Oilers will turn into a dynasty, 2. they’ll continue to suck wind and be the laughingstock of hockey or 3. something in between.

    In other words, I haven’t got a freakin’ clue!

  • hammer313

    Would have preferred a younger coach. The Oilers have gone to the well so many times with older coaches with not the greatest results. The team seemed to respond with a younger bench boss, even going back to the glory days, Sather was a young and largely unproven coach, that seemed to have a better handle on things. I would prefer Knoblauch or Nelson, just hope that this coach isn’t a puppet with his strings being pulled from higher up, only way to explain Lucic constantly playing up on the 1st and 2nd lines. I watched so many games, until I couldn’t anymore, of this guy playing poorly and still in the lineup, was a joke and only reason was management trying to save face and not win games!

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Here are the ages of the the playoff teams (Tippet is 57).
      1 De boar SJ 50
      2 Cassidy BOS 53
      3 Berube STL 53
      4 Brind’Amour CAR 48
      5 Gallant VGK 55
      6 Maurice WPG 52
      7 Tortorella CBJ 60
      8 Babcock TOR 56
      9 Cooper TB 51
      10 Peters CGY 54
      11 Trotz NYI 56
      12 Sullivan PIT 51
      13 Reirden WSH 47
      14 Montgonery DAL 49
      15 Bedner COL 47
      16 Laviolette NSH 54

      • Well done. I was looking at the ages of various coaches last week. Not a lot of guys out there with a proven track record at the NHL level under 50. I was surprised to see that Todd Nelson, a guy who would have been my second choice after Tippett and somebody who is often characterized as one of the younger coaches, is 50.

          • Scotty Bowman is the only coach to win the Stanley Cup over the age of 56, you say? Is that right? Is that so? Well, no.

            — Bob Johnson with Pittsburgh in 1991.
            — John Muckler, right here in Edmonton, in 1990.
            — Dick Irvin with Montreal in 1953.

            Any way to twist that, or are the record books just wrong? Let us know.

          • Derian Hatcher

            Gord despite your efforts to appear to be the smartest guy on the web, you continue to look foolish….. somewhat like Dallas Eakins…wait a minute, has anyone ever seen Serious Gord and Dallas Eakins in the same room at the same time?

          • Serious Gord

            Lol – I mis-quoted myself from that previous thread. Assuming it takes three years for the oil to be cup competitive Tippett will be sixty-one. And only Scotty Bowman has done it at an age older than that. My math was wrong on Irvin – I had him winning his last at age sixty when in fact he was indeed 61.

            Regardless it is a very very select group that has won at the age Tippett will be. Point made.

          • Slick77

            So, are you saying that the Blues and Bruins will be needing to look for new coaches here in the next couple years? Cassidy just turned 54 and Berube is 53. Does 2 or 3 years really make that much difference? Especially considering the success Tippett has had with a weaker team than the Oilers have right now?

          • Towers-of-dub

            I asked you before to explain why coaches can’t win the cup once they turn 56, but so far you haven’t offered an explanation. Would you care to make use of this opportunity? I know what the statistics say, but I’m one of those people who needs to understand why. I always first go to the person who is quoting statistics and historical data. Those people wouldn’t provide that information without understanding why the data is that way. So, Gord, I’ll ask you again, why can’t coaches win the Stanley’s cup once they’re over 56?

    • wiseguy

      “The Oilers have gone to the well so many times with older coaches with not the greatest results”. Todd Nelson already had a crack at it. And then there was Dallas Eakins. So in the last 5 coaches prior to Tippett, we had 3 with no NHL head coaching experience (Krueger, Nelson, Eakins) and 2 with lots (McClellan and Hitch). Not sure that well is as deep as you think it is…

  • El Guapo

    Robin, happy to see another Sonics fan. They were the first team I started cheering for in 89/90 when Kemp and Payton were rookies. It’s a total shame that they don’t have a team there any more with the history that they’ve had.

  • vetinari

    This seems to be the new normal: no matter who we hire at whatever position fans are going to complain about it.

    If we hire a GM with Stanley Cups on his resume and over 20 years of experience as a GM in the NHL, he is “too old” and connected to “too many people” (a la the old boys’ network but a DIFFERENT old boys’ network).

    If the posts can be believed (and there is no reason not to believe them), we hire a coach with extensive NHL experience and gets rave reviews from his former players for bringing out parts of their games and he’s “too old” and “out of touch with the new NHL.”

    Good managers and good coaches find ways to adapt and win. Period. Experience gives them insight into past strategies which worked and which failed (and could be applied again or avoided), and sometimes you learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

    If we went with a rookie GM and/or a rookie coach, we would likely be setting them up for failure. Why? We tried those combinations (MacT, Kruger, Eakins) in the past and it failed.

    Whatever happened to giving someone a shot before chewing them up on social media? No wonder it is so hard to convince players to come here.

    • TKB2677

      You are completely right. I believe that it wouldn’t matter who was picked, some Oilers fans are going to automatically believe it’s the wrong choice because they are so used to being negative, it’s all they know.

      I am going to see what happens. Was Holland the right guy for the job? I am not sure. He’s got a hell of a good resume and all the experience you could want to be a good GM. There is no such thing as a perfect GM, every GM has mistakes on their resume. I do wonder how much of Holland’s “mistakes” had to do with the organizational and more correctly aging owners mandate to make the playoffs at all cost. Any coincident that as soon as the Wings 80+ yr old owner died, all of a sudden the organization changed how they did things? I would say no.

      When it comes to Tippet. He’s a good coach with lots of experience. I don’t buy into the idea that he is only capable of coaching 1 style. When you are the coach of a team with 3rd and 4th liners, are you coaching a skill game. No chance. I do think one of the Oilers biggest problems is they are horrible defensively. The Oilers could have brought in a “young coach” maybe he works out but maybe he would have been the next Eakins who by his own admission made some mistakes and wasn’t ready.

    • Kenny The Rat

      Good point. The only thing missing is that 90% are ok with the choices made. The other 10% complain, regardless. I am sure that if there were rookie GM and coaches hired SG and the other whiners on the site would want Holland. People who can’t get attention in the real world do whatever they can to find it online.

  • Synthesis

    Newall Brown would be kind of a cool addition to the bench as he has an affinity for creative powerplays when he has some talent to execute the schemes.
    I would pass on Lamb, he can stay in PG and keep working on the Cougars rebuild. Reputedly the reason he got run in Swift and replaced by Manny V is because he was weak in the EQ (soft skills) department. Given the relative youth of the Oilers roster, thats a concern.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Aside from the conference final appearance he pulled out of his ass in 2012, Tippet is known for hindering young players. Funny how once he leaves, the Coyotes are budding with young talent.

  • Total Points

    There is not much difference between the skill set, energy level, ability to communicate, etc of someone between the age of 50 to 59. I say give Tippet a chance. He comes as advertised, defense first, lets his scorers score and is well liked by the players.

    I for one will enjoy the off season and watch the team continue to get build and evolve and get ready for the season open.

  • Frank Rizza

    I also loved the Sonics. Back in my younger days my buddies and I would hit the road to Seattle to catch a Sonics game or two. Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton led some great Sonics teams in the 90’s. They would’ve won a championship if it wasn’t for Michael Jordan. I always felt closer to Seattle than Toronto. It’s probably the reason I’m a Mariners fan too. As for the Raptors, I think they’ll win game one and then lose 4 straight. They’re dealing with arguably the greatest basketball team ever.

  • RexHolez

    Literally don’t care who the coach is. Don’t care who the GM is. Don’t care who’s in charge of pro scouting. Don’t care what they do with the first round pick. Don’t care if any prospects make the opening night roster. Don’t care if Wayne Gretzky himself comes out of retirement to play on Connors wing. It would just be nice for once to be able to tell people I’m an Oiler fan without being emberasssed

    • Slick77

      The advanced stats showed that the Oilers are one of the best teams in the NHL when McDavid is on the ice. So that tells me that if the Oilers can improve the bottom 6 and get average goal support their, that should be enough to get the Oilers into the playoffs. Now it won’t make them a contender, but they won’t suck and be fighting for the playoffs.

  • I hope the new coach sits guys when deserved. I saw boat anchor for boat anchor. I know it never happen but Neal was a boat anchor last season and I know he doesn’t have a ntc but I would keep Lucic.
    What bothered me the most about last year was the try at the end of the year. We have never tried sitting Lucic we just keep rolling him out night after night and the only game I remember him being a pain was in Anaheim. I would of loved this team play the Flames first round because the playoffs are totally different hockey.