At Random: Intel

Just the other day, I wrote about how relationships — who you know – often enter into the hiring process to some degree in the NHL, how that dynamic played into Edmonton Oilers’ POHO and GM Ken Holland hiring Dave Tippett as his head coach and what might happen from here on out.

While that sort of familiarity played a part in Tippett’s decision to retain Glen Gulutzan on his coaching staff while letting Trent Yawney and Manny Viveiros go, he showed why a lot of people think he’s a solid hire by Holland by taking an extra step in one of his first decisions as the new bench boss.

Rather than making the call to keep Gulutzan simply because he knew him — they crossed paths with the Dallas Stars – and because there’s something to be said about maintaining some measure of continuity, Tippett talked to players here to get a better feel from inside a dressing room he wasn’t a part of last season.

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After several years apart, Tippett talked about doing his homework and getting the low-down on Gulutzan in an interview of Oilers Now Host Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED.


“He was just coming into the organization at the end of my tenure there (in Dallas), and he’s a smart hockey guy,” Tippett said. “I did a lot of talking to people around the organization and outside, and got a real good feel for Gully. He was the main driver behind the power play last year, and that was one of the real positive spots for Edmonton. There’s always room for upside, but he was the driver behind that.

“I talked to a couple of players that were very much in his corner with the work he did with the power play, so I just felt I was comfortable knowing him before and the work that he’s done. The little bit of continuity of having some insight on some players coming back, it was really beneficial keeping Gully.

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“I think the start of this season is going to be imperative for our team, and I don’t want to have a feeling out process. I want to make sure we’re up and going right from the start. Getting new people in here as quick as we can will be beneficial to our group.”

It’s details like taking the time to get the latest on Gulutzan that make a difference over time. While it’s not a huge deal on its own because, like I said, they already knew each other, new information is always better than old information and Tippett made sure he had it before letting Yawney and Viveiros go.


With Yawney and Viveiros down the road, Tippett confirmed he’ll bring in two of his own coaches to join Gulutzan. “I just felt that I’d like to bring a couple of guys in that I’m familiar with. We’re going to do some more talking, Ken (Holland) and I, this afternoon about different scenarios we’re looking at.”

Unless something has changed, it looks from where I sit like Jim Playfair, who coached alongside Tippett for six seasons in Arizona, and Mark Lamb, who was on his staff for six years in Dallas, are at the top of the list of candidates. My best guess is that we’ll hear something on this front within a week.


A Canadian Press item about Connor McDavid’s appearance at an event in Toronto Tuesday raised some eyebrows because McDavid was apparently limping around in a knee brace. It’s been just eight weeks since McDavid suffered a slight tear of the PCL in his left knee against the Calgary Flames April 6.

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While I’d suggest McDavid is well within the timelines of a normal recovery – he didn’t have surgery – it might not be a bad idea for the Oilers to get out in front of this thing and provide fans an update. The media relations department botched, you might recall, providing meaningful information when the injury first occurred.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Looks like you might be on point about Playfair and Lamb coming on board if Tippett mentioned guys he is familiar with, those would be the names that he has had a lot of time with while on the bench. Time will tell.

    There is an interview on TSN with McDavid getting asked about his injury and he wasnt too keen on giving up any info on it, I cant blame him but the Oilers PR department has definetly dropped the ball a few times with things, like the Bobby breakfast bomb….Lets hope the new PR head will do a better job

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      Lying to us again. “We want to be more transparent with our fans”.

      BS and they know it. And before anyone criticizes me. No, I don’t expect minute-by-minute updates from the club. I don’t expect them to follow Connor asking “are you okay” ever second of the day. But jeez. It’s been exactly 2 months since the injury. GIVE US SOMETHING!

      • Glencontrolurstik

        However, if Connor wasn’t too keen to give up info on his own, it wouldn’t be a great team move to speak on his behalf and speculate… Maybe Connor does not wish to talk about it until he does.
        The team should respect that, that’s fair. Especially to Connor.

        • Joy S. Lee

          It could even fall somewhere in the middle, perhaps, to keep everyone happy. Personally, it will be whatever it is, but I don’t have season tics riding on it, lol.

          All things considered, we have to trust that they’ll do whatever is best for McDavid long term, and vice-versa. I’d imagine everyone feels the same way, so even speculation is beyond the control of anyone not named Connor. No one is going to mess around with the stakes when it comes to the rehab of the world’s most dynamic player, period.

    • Oilerz4life

      In all fairness McD was at a charity event when asked, and he said it was neither the time nor place.

      Class act, why not ask about the charity event? Media vultures.

  • Ken McTippett

    The last thing the Oilers need is McDavey not being ready to start the season. That would really put Tippett’s ability to adapt coaching styles to the players he has to the test. Heal up, Connor.

    • gordo

      if Connor can’t start the i’d like to believe the 3 or 4 forwards the team has to bring in will provide depth, and the puck moving dman , can also help the offense

    • Since 72

      Good idea on filling in the fans! Saw Connor on tv today doing a charity thing limping around with a brace on! Seems like a pretty serious injury after all.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      As much as I would love to see McDavid in the first game of the season, I’m okay with not seeing him until he is healed, last thing we need is him being rushed back only to make the injury or worse than it is.

      McDavid needs to take all the time needed to heal properly

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    The powerplay was a positive thing in Edmonton? Really? I just saw a bunch of players passing it to McDavid, expecting him to do all the work. Not once did they come up with a strategy or anything to make their opponents work on the PK. Why bother with a 2nd unit if the team is going to just deploy the first one. This is what I hate about most teams in the NHL, not just Edmonton. There is no change in the two units. You’d think that in a game where STRATEGY is required, you’d have two units play two different styles.

    This is what I want Edmonton to do. Have the first unit play 1 way, have the 2nd unit play the other. Change it up. Do something different for a change. But nope. No strategy involved. Just “give it to McDavid” and we all saw how that worked out!

    • Yes, it was a positive. The power play ranked ninth in the NHL at 21.2 per cent and you’re moaning and groaning about how it scored? If they changed it up as you suggest and finished 21st, you’d be moaning about the results rather than the method that got them there.

      • Spydyr

        The problem with last years Oilers powerplay was not the first unit as you mentioned they ended ninth overall. The problem with the Oilers powerplay was the second unit. If I were guess the unit was at or near the bottom of the NHL for second unit powerplay scoring.

      • All Ice

        All this talk of the power play even though it wasn’t a huge issue last season, any discussion of the penalty kill? Which of the options for new assistants would be handling that or previous experience with it. Kinda nice if we weren’t getting scored on 25% of the time

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Which is probably why Yawney (Mr. Defense apparently, isn’t with us anymore).
          Although Nurse had a better year under him & they were injured for the most part, he did not do much to improve the PK & D.

    • ed from edmonton

      I’d wager that almost every fan of every tea thinks the pp should be better. Whenever a PP happens every one gets excited, and rightfully so, but even an excellent PP will fail 3 out 4 times. Kind of like 300 hitter is a t, but he makes an out 70% of the time.

    • Oilman99

      If McDavid is your power play quarterback, then it makes sense that he should have the puck, plus nobody is a better passer than him so its a no brainer.

    • Joy S. Lee

      According to the article, Tippett’s snippets (maybe not last time we’ll hear that one) about the work of the coaches came from the players themselves. Going to the source, not a bad idea, right? And the players themselves – those who presumably often played the PP – indicated to the new coach that THEY LIKED how Gulutzan adapted the #9 PP through games and ultimately the course of the season. Damn logic all to hell, huh?

  • Digger

    To those wanting info on McDavid, consider this. What if it is none of your business and McDavid wants to keep it like that. Some of us like a little privacy, superstar or not. As for fans paying his wages, cheer for another team if you don’t like how your hard earned money is spent.

    • ed from edmonton

      When he became a professional hockey player his right to privacy was relinquished to some extent. I’m not saying he should accept paparazzi sneaking around his house, but an update on an injury. Yeah that’s fair game.

    • mikeoes

      Disagree, if it was better then expected news he would be sharing it, trust me. He’s mum because he’s frustrated how slowly its healing, and the fact he hasn’t been able to work on whatever he had planned to work on this off season. Plus he’s probably realizing this injury will affect him more then he was initially told. None of that is info he would want to share. If it was positive news he would be sharing it knowing he has thousands of fans waiting on good news. We all hope he heals 100% by training camp but I’m not expecting that. Time will tell…..

  • OilerForLife

    What if it’s not what you and I want to hear, Robin?

    Some fans might want to pull up the tent pegs and pack it in. Maybe McDavid just doesn’t want to talk about it and it’s his choice. For what it’s worth, my thoughts are that initially I think there is likely a lot of rest involved in the recovery, and pushing it could cause a relapse which could significantly lengthen recovery. So the news might be he’s recovering, and he’ll recover when he recovers ,and not a minute before time frame. In other words its very difficult to give even a set time frame,and that may change later anyway.

    By the way, is there a time frame that season ticket holders need to make a decision on their season tickets, or has that come and gone by now?

    • You missed the point. No need to provide a timeline. If the recovery is going along just fine, state that in a simple and straightforward way. He looked fine to to me in the footage I saw of the appearance. Having been strapped into the kind of knee brace McDavid is wearing more than once, I can tell you that what was described as a limp could simply be less-than-fluid movement caused by the brace.

      • jesse says yep

        Does the McDavid injury possibly put the Oilers in a worse trading position? If this is the case then maybe there is a logic in keeping the injury timeline to themselves for the time being.

    • Spydyr

      Just by the fact McDavid is still limping eight weeks after the injury shows that their was significant damage done to the knee. As for the extent of the damage and prognosis let’s leave that up to the Doctors.

      • Boba The Fett

        As Robin already clearly stated and I can attest to myself as well, the limp could very easily be attributed to the brave he is wearing as well. The brace is meant to provide stability and prevent you from making any moves that could hinder the recovery, as a result full range of motion is not attainable generally and a limp will be the cause…time to relax people

      • Shameless Plugger

        Have you ever walked with a knee brace ? Even if your knee is healed and you’re wearing one for precautionary reasons, it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to limp.

    • mikeoes

      This is what I’m worried a out as well. I don’t think any NHL player is ever “the same” after ligament damage. People get confused thinking if no surgery is required that must mean its great news. This isn’t true. It just means they will try to heal it without surgery because surgery has its risks, and the risks arn’t worth the potential return at this point in his recovery. Anyone who’s ever injured a ligament and didn’t need surgery knows it is a slow up and down recovery, and risk of re-injury is much higher. And that joint is at higher risk or arthritis / stiffness .I don’t think anyone would ever say they are “better off” performance wise due to any ligament injury.

    • Joy S. Lee

      “…doesn’t heal itself.” The human body does, indeed, heal itself… constantly. Bones, muscles, ligaments, organs; they all heal. The human body gets on it immediately from the moment of injury… or at least tries to. Some people heal fast, others slowly. Young professional athletes probably recover better than anyone else on the planet, because they have not only an incredible support system behind them, but also the best science in nutrition, injury-recovery knowledge, etc. You actually have no idea, but hey, only those looking everywhere to see it first actually see the sky falling.

  • Synthesis

    Amusing side note.
    Mark Lamb was released in Swift Current because of poor communication with the players and an underperforming roster.
    Replaced with Manny V who subsequently took the roster to the WHL championship and was regarded as a phenomenal communicator.
    Go figure.

    • Amusing side fact: The team Lamb coached in 2015-16 and the team Viveiros won with in 2017-18 had eight players in common — that’s out of 37 players Lamb used in his final season — so you’re reaching with the “took the roster” remark. Viveiros did a bang up job in Swift Current, but lets not blur the lines.

  • Protect the Future

    Thanks Robin. I read so many pieces in the off season that are just recaps of what we all know and I can count on you to only write when you have something of interest to post. I don’t comment often, but I am a fan of your work.