Dave Tippett talks coming to Edmonton, Oilers roster, analytics, and more

This morning, the Oilers officially announced Dave Tippett as the team’s new head coach, leaving both he and Holland to speak to the media about how this union came together, leaving Seattle, and how they’re going to move the franchise forward. Let’s get to the breakdown.


With the Oilers running through a seemingly endless influx of coaches since Pat Quinn was here in 2010, I’m always interested in hearing the thought process behind selecting a new coach, including how many people were on the list.

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Before turning things over to Tippett, Holland spoke a little bit about how this all came together, revealing that Ken Hitchcock was involved in the search.

I wish someone would have asked more about Hitchcock’s involvement but it does make a lot of sense that the guy would have been asked to help. In terms of experience, something we know that Holland values, no one has more of it than Hitchcock and I would have appreciated a deeper look at what he did.

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Ahhh man, wouldn’t it have been great to hear more about what kind of recon Hitchcock was doing? I assume he was asking for opinions related to Holland’s 15-man list, but I would have loved to know more about how that got paired down. How did they check names off? Who were the outside the box options that we may not have even heard about? Regardless of Hitchcock’s contributions, Holland seemed to have Tippett at the front of mind right from the start and all roads seemed to point in his direction.

One thing that came up often in today’s press conference was Tippett’s ability to communicate with his players and develop relationships. Considering the way the league is going, these type of skills will be invaluable and should go a long way to helping right the ship. Obviously, there will need to be a lot more that goes into fixing the Oilers than improving the communication, but I think we can all agree that being on the same page from management down to the players is a good first step.

In Detroit, Holland hired a first time coach in Jeff Blashill but noted a few times that he really wanted to have an experienced bench boss here in Edmonton.

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When Dave Tippett’s name started getting thrown into the mix, some folks wondered why he would want to come to Edmonton and he touched on the ‘why’ in his opening remarks.


One storyline that’s getting beaten to death right now is how defensive the Coyotes were when Tippett was coaching there, and I still can’t help but wonder how much of that tactic was because of the overall lack of skill he had to work with.

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Go on…

Getting the most out of the available roster was a recurring theme in the presser and a skill Tippett will probably have to flex with the Oilers as well. While there was certainly talk of rebuilding the bottom six and roster in general, it’s not like the Oilers have a tonne of space to make that happen so Tippett is going to have to find a way to bring this team together quickly.


So what makes Tippett tick? Consistency is key.

Communication came up a few times in the press conference and it was interesting to hear Tippett talk about whether or not that was something he’s worked on or always had as part of his repertoire.

Knowing that most people see Dave Tippett as a defensive-minded coach, I was happy to hear a few questions about how he views himself and what he wants this team to play.

As Tippett was talking about five-man units and defencemen jumping up into the rush, I couldn’t help but think about how the current players will fit into that philosophy. Do the Oilers have enough mobility on the back end to truly make this work? Does that mean some changes are coming?

I’m not saying I disagree, Dave, I really don’t, but I’ve also watched this team for a long time and wonder how the current top-six is going to execute on this plan. That said, I do like the idea of watching the Oilers play more aggressively on the forecheck if he can make it happen with this roster.

Speaking of his roster, Tippett was asked specifically about Connor and Leon and how he expects to deploy the team’s two best players.

Together, eh? Mmmmmmm yes. I do love me some McDrai.

As President and CEO of the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fan club, you have to think that keeping Connor and Leon together basically eliminates any chance of Nuge getting traded this summer, right? RIGHT!? Sorry, I guess I’ve still got my Chiarelli-induced guard up. Either way, this team won’t succeed if they have only three guys that can consistently score and Tippett basically said as much when asked about potential changes.

As I wrote on Sunday, four players accounted for 61% of the team’s goals and that is simply not good enough.

Amen, Dave. Amen.


In this market, the use of analytics has always been a hot-button issue and it’s been that way for years. Some fans and bloggers believe strongly that analytics should be an integral part of the team’s analysis while others feel that the eye test is much more important. When asked about analytics, Tippett made his feelings obvious.

If we all quiet down and listen carefully, you can hear the pants of thousands of spreadsheet boys tightening slightly. Does everyone hear it? Seriously, though, I really do believe that the Oilers need to build a management team with varying opinions and areas of expertise to help them make the best possible decisions and a competent analytics department should certainly be included in that. Clearly, Tippett feels the same way.

Tippett went on to talk about how he kept spreadsheets on players dating back to the 90s and I have to admit that I loved hearing it. Again, I don’t necessarily believe that fancy stats are the be-all and end-all in terms of player evaluation, but it is nice to know that the coach will be using these numbers as a tool to confirm what his eyes are telling him.

Looking at the current roster, there are a number of players that have some pretty ugly fancies tied to their names and I can’t help but wonder if that will make a difference in terms of who stays and who goes. Am I overthinking things again? Probably.


With the Oilers still having three assistant coaches under contract, I was curious to hear from Tippett on whether anyone would stay or go.

As for Holland, he seems to be on board with whatever his new coach wants to do.


Since we all knew that Dave Tippett was coming to town for the past few weeks, I was more interested in seeing what he would actually say about the job. Yeah, I was expecting the usual canned responses and cliches but I was really wanting to hear him talk about what he plans on doing with this group going forward. For a lot of Oilers fans, I think that Tippett’s time in Arizona has almost put him in a box because of the style of play he deployed, but I can’t help but think that a big reason for that was the lack of overall skill he had to work with. How will that approach change here in Edmonton now that he has McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins to throw over the boards?

Obviously, we’re going to have to wait and see what actually happens and it’s going to be a long five months to wait before we’re able to do that, but I’ll readily admit that Tippett’s press conference had me feeling cautiously optimistic. I know we’ve all felt excited about changes before but I really want to believe that this time is different. I really want to believe that Holland and Tippett can and will make the necessary changes needed to actually move this ship forward, and I’m excited to see how the rest of the summer will play out. What did you guys think?

  • Hemmercules

    I don’t mind the hire but no praise from me until I see results. All these guys can talk a good game and say all the right things on that podium year after year but playoffs and Stanley cups are the only things that really matter.

  • Spydyr

    Ever summer the Oilers sell hope. It is the one thing they are good at. Every summer many fall for it.

    Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

  • Skylardog

    So there was talk of Tippett being a potential hire by the Flames when Gulutzan was fired. I said it then – Oh god please nooooo…

    My biggest concern with Tippett is how young players failed to develop when they played for him. Domi should have been a star for Arizona, he started strong then fell to the point where he needed trading to revitalize his career. What about Anthony Duclair. He went from potential star to barely an NHLer.

    I hope it works out for you all up in Edmonton, but it seems to me you are headed down another path to the same ending. I hope I am wrong.

    • TKB2677

      Tippet’s last season with Arizona was the 16-17 season.

      Domi’s first year under Tippett, he had 52 pts in 82 games. Pretty good season for a rookie. His second year (Tippet’s last year) was injury plagued. He had 38 pts in 59 games. In a full season, that’s 53 pts. Back to back 50+ pt seasons on a team full of 3rd and 4th liners is pretty good don’t you think?

      Tippet’s last season in Arizona was the 16-`6 season. Duclair’s first season in Arizona he had 20 goals, 44 pts. His second season (tippet’s last) he dropped off to 15 pts in 58 games. Since Tippet’s last season, Duclair was on Arizona, Chicago, Columbus and Ottawa. So 4 teams in 2 years. I have a hard time blaming Tippet when a player bounces around that much in that short of a time.

    • Skylardog

      Tippett and Arizona parted ways as a result of philosophical differences. Tippett was angry over the departure of Mike Smith to Calgary and the decision to not resign Shane Doan. The new owner and new GM at the time wanted to move to a youthful roster, and Tippett was opposed to that move. Does that sound like what the Oilers need?

      He is an old school coach in a new NHL. He will have difficulty talking to and leading the new type of player that the NHL now is made up of.

      Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

      And again, I hope I am wrong.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        Oh well…look at the bright side, when Dave Tippett coached the Dallas Stars and the Phoenix Coyotes, they always dominated us. It was an automatic win for Dallas/Phoenix. They played structured team hockey, and the Oilers lost. Good news, at least we don’t have to play against Tippett.

        • Kneedroptalbot

          Dave Tippett’s record coaching against the Oilers:
          Dallas Stars (2002-03 to 2008-09)
          17 wins – 7 losses
          Phoenix Coyotes
          26 wins – 5 loses – 4 OT loses
          Basically Dallas and Phoenix Owner the Oilers when Tippett coached them.
          Total: 42 Wins, 12 Loses, 4 OT Loses

      • Slick77

        It’s all fine and dandy to move to youth as long as your GM supplies the coach the youth to move to. If you look at the Coyotes past draft picks, there wasn’t/isn’t much to move to. Also if you don’t have a goalie to replace your starter, it’s sending a bad message to your team, and coach, when you trade your starter. Have a look at the Coyotes roster from Tippetts last season and explain how any coach in the league could win with it. http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/teams/0071662017.html

      • Derian Hatcher

        @skylar. So you basically rip bill peters and tre over at FN and then come over here and rip the Oilers new coach. Your comments are usually a must read for me and I definately respect your insight, but are you having a bad day or what ?

        • Off the wall

          Hey Derian, how are you doing?
          I’ve been hiding under a rock since our quick departure from the playoffs. I even decorated the crap outta my truck three weeks before the playoffs began. Yup, Flames down the sides and hood. With “ Go Flames Go” magnets attached.
          I’m horrified it only lasted 5 playoff games. You really should have talked me out of it.

          Now I just tell stories. Sad and pathetic ones. Never mind, I always do that.

          Oh, my point? I just noticed tonight ( under rock) you have a new GM in Holland and Tippett as your head coach.

          What’s your thoughts on all of this?

          • Derian Hatcher

            Hey OTW – Oh I saw pics of your truck – and if I’m being honest, I was quite envious of all the excitement over at FN in early April. With the Flames going out in 5, just goes to show that being a fan can sometimes be a real nut punch – real Oiler fans know this all too well.

            Well for about the millionth time, I have hope and am excited about the Oilers. Call me stupid (and I’m sure the trolls will) but I feel that Holland and Tippett offer the best tandem we’ve had in a long time. Chiarelli was a disaster with his trades and talent evaluation. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Even though I’ve been an Oiler fan since way, way before 2006, I refuse to be constantly negative and whine and witch about everything Oilers – and I’m Serious about this.

            So, like every year we wait and hope and anticipate and debate and criticize, and applaud. It will be interesting to see what moves Holland makes. I like the guy and hope that he and Tippett can turn things around. I will also be visting you at FN – the MT contact will be intriguing.

      • Joy S. Lee

        They had trouble scoring, but pretty decent defensively. Also, they were NOT veteran-laden by any stretch; lots of YOUTH … ELEVEN were 21 or under … and ZERO exceptional drivers of offense. Your criticisms are completely imagined, unfair and unwarranted … can’t believe a word you (Skylardog) say.

    • OilTastic

      no i think Oiler fans have now seen so many GM and coaching changes that we fans are all very cautious now when we have to go through all this yet AGAIN !

  • Jay (not J)

    Sounded good today, but so many have sounded good on day 1. I’d love to be optimistic, but that might take trade news or something else. Holland sounds like a pretty smart dude, but again, we’ve chewed up and spat out a few of those this century. Anyway, they both sounded good today. We’ll see.

    • Jsinky

      Despite the typical pessimism that most Oiler fans will convey, this is the latest in a chain of positives that have been happening in Oil management. Now time for Dutch to do some positive things to the roster.

      I love that Ken Holland is now an Oiler. Since the early 90s, the Red Wings were always my go to once the Oil’s season was over. I feel like the hockey gods have finally blessed us with a path to playoff righteousness after years of testing our faith…

  • Serious Gord

    Re: analytics

    Spreadsheets are so 2000. Analytics will move even farther beyond spreadsheets with the introduction of on-ice player tracking this season.

    How teams capitalize on them is going to be THE decisive issue for the next 5-10 years.

    I don’t have any confidence that these geriatrics are going to put this org in the vanguard.

    • hagar

      You must hope it doesn’t work out, what ever would you do with yourself if the Oilers started winning like a real team?

      The changes are suspect, and the promise of hope is comical at this point, but what can you do? Guess we will see. Odds are the team will still suck and Lowe will be seen in a wig and fake nose at the round table, but we will see.

      Fingers crossed this is the time!!

  • Odanada

    I wonder how Tippet feels about keeping lines together so the players can develop chemistry?
    Both Todd and Hitch were a white knuckle carousel of incessant line changes.

    • ed from edmonton

      I will wager that like every other coach he will assess how the game is going and how players are performing and make his decisions accordingly. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over (like the same lines when you are getting smoked) and expecting a different outcome.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      You know, I have to say it… I don’t know where all this negativity about switching lines came from.
      Every great coach in hockey history switches lines depending on the flow or system of the game…
      My guess is that a writer or you or someone just recently noticed it as they were learning the game, commented on it and drew it up as a negative… It’s not a negative changing up lines, it is an innovative strategy that is very effective in hockey throughout history… It’s not a negative and should not be viewed as such.

      • Odanada

        I can assure you I’ve been watching the game a long time.
        I didn’t think my post was innately negative; it just posed a question. Are all such questions to be branded as “negative?”
        I understand that coaches are always looking to find combinations that work, but don’t you think it can take time for players to develop that “chemistry” that connects minds into a single flowing unit?

        • Glencontrolurstik

          No, not negative, and I understand your question. I think that any player at this level should be used to playing with different lines constantly. And effectiveness should be 2nd nature at this level… Special chemistry (McD & Drais) is special and quite rare. But it should be exploited.

  • Gravis82

    “Again, I don’t necessarily believe that fancy stats are the be-all and end-all in terms of player evaluation, but it is nice to know that the coach will be using these numbers as a tool to confirm what his eyes are telling him” This is about as wrong as you can get with analytics. You need to know how accurate your numbers are, now much error to expect, if you are measuring something meaningful, and how drastic the change you want to make will be. If you know all that, and your numbers say something that your eyeballs dont, you can consider that you have found something new and the numbers might be right and it is you that are biased. But without all that work, its useless. This is why you need a real analytics department to sort all this out before you start making decision. Entire university degrees from bachelors to PhD are premised on teaching people to turn data into actionable knowledge for large organizations. The NHL has all this data, you need an experienced team and you need to commit to paying for the best and it will pay off.

    • ed from edmonton

      When I read this it reminds me of the old saying “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Working in the scientific field for 40 year, yes I am a fossil, turning data into information is important, but knowing how to apply the I formation is what pays. If what you said is true a human coach is not needed. Just a robot that tracks the play and runs the algorithms.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Well said, Ed! Collecting data is the easy part, analyzing it more challenging, but you must then IMPLEMENT STRATEGIES to improve, requiring team and organizational buy-in. THAT’S the hard part! Some people prefer to bend over in order to talk.

  • Rama Lama

    Please forgive me if I sound a little jaded………but after 15 coaches, I suspect that coaching is not the problem. I do like the fact that Holland used Ken HItchcock and sought his council………class move even if Hitch was disappointed that he was not going to be behind the bench. Good on Hitch for not to be so offended that he would not participate.

    I for one would keep Hitch around for his interviews………..the best in the biz…….bar none!

    • ed from edmonton

      This all day. I don’t think Tippet is better or worse than Hitch, TMac, Nelson, Kruger or Remney. If his players are good enough he will have some success. If the roster is similar to last year not so much.

  • KootenayDan

    Better players will make better coaches pretty simple actually. The ball is in Hollands corner not Tippetts this team needs depth and a decent goalie. Mind you Tippett will provide structure like the Bruins and Blues have but he needs horses to get this team over the hump.

  • GK1980

    I’ve been a little pessimistic these past few months on this team and most of us including myself have reason to be. New coach, new GM. We have all seen it before. Good luck to them and the club I suppose.

    I just don’t drink the koolaid anymore.

    • OilTastic

      no i think Oiler fans have now seen so many GM and coaching changes that we fans are all very cautious now when we have to go through all this yet AGAIN !

  • Things are coming very smoothly. Holland comes, alot of the OBC get cleaned out, Hitch gets moved to advisor and plays an active role in the coaching search, then Tippet becomes head coach. Im very interested in what’s next. Does Sean Burke come on as AGM and goalie coach? Assistant coaches get named? The recent moves have me wanting more and constantly refreshing this website and twitter. I like how Holland isn’t rushing things either, he’s using the time he has to slowly transitioning the room and build a very good team.

  • toprightcorner

    – Only a 3 year term! That is rare for a veteran coach who typically demand 5 years.

    – $2.75 salary is right in Elliott Freidman’s estimated average coaches salary of $2.5-$2.75 mill

    Those are both HUGE negotiation wins for Holland. I like how Holland has handled business and communicated what he is doing. This makes me sleep better at night knowing there will no longer be any Chiarelli overpays.

  • Simba99

    If the two angels 97-29 don’t start buying into playing a structured game instead of being one dimensional in this league. I’d rather have a team like tippett old team that record was 50-18 against the oilers. The oilers will only go as far as 97 -29 stop thinking they above everyone else and play as a team.