Earlier this week, Edmonton Oilers head coach, Dave Tippett, appeared on Bob Stauffer’s show to talk a little bit about the season, the team’s overall attitude, and some of the young players that took on major roles with the Oilers in 2019-20.
Seeing as there are no sports to talk about right now, I’ve been enjoying the interviews with players and coaches that have come out as a means to fill the void. So when Dave Tippett jumped on Oilers Now to talk to Stauffer, I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say about the state of his team, what’s been working, and how he’s been seemingly able to pull everything together in his first season behind the bench.
YOUNG PLAYERS WITH BIG ROLES
To start, let’s look at what he had to say about a couple of the young guys that have jumped in and made an immediate impact.
“When Ken Holland decided to buyout Sekera, one of those young defencemen was going to have to step up and get an unbelievable opportunity to do so. Bear was the guy right from training camp.”
Ethan Bear! We all love Ethan Bear! Tell us what you saw, Tipp!
“I remember looking at him in training camp at the first session he was on. He was flying around, he was smiling, he was enjoying life. It was like he knew this was his time. You love to see a kid take an opportunity like that.”
Early on in the season, Jason Gregor had the chance to talk to Ethan Bear about the changes he made to his offseason training, approach to the game, and general attitude towards being a professional, which made it a lot of fun to watch all of the hard work pay off for the kid. To put it bluntly, I don’t think any of us probably would have ever expected Bear to walk into the 2019-20 season and have the impact he’s had on the blue line, especially when you consider the minutes he’s playing in the top-four.
“I would be amazed if there’s a young player in the league that’s had as big of an impact on his team as Ethan had on our team. The minutes he plays and the roles we put him in, it’s hard to imagine where we’d be without him.”
Along those same lines, it would be hard to imagine where this team would have ended up had it not been for Kailer Yamamoto seamlessly entering the lineup for the New Year’s Eve game @against the New York Rangers. Right from the jump, Yamamoto found a way to contribute and he completely changed the dynamic of the Oilers’ top six.
“Yamo was a little different because we really didn’t get a good look at him in camp because he was injured. When Yamo came in, Yamo just took it another step again.”
I think we all had hopes that Yamamoto would find a way to make an impact, but I don’t know how many of us could have ever expected him to hit the ground running as he has. On the back end, the same can be said for Caleb Jones and Dave Tippett praised the young defender for his versatility.
“Jonesy was a bit of a different one because he came in and he was filling spots here and there but I really like the way he’s trending also. He’s kind of a today’s style NHL player where he can move the puck, and he’s a smart enough guy where he defends well enough and understands the game.”
For all three of these guys, the road to the NHL was anything but a straight line and it was wonderful to finally watch three drafted prospects develop and earn their way onto the roster rather than being force-fed minutes before they were ready. I don’t know how many times we’ve watched this franchise depend on youngsters to contribute whether they were able to or not, and I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to see things changing that regard.
Team Attitude and Being Prepared
I think for a lot of us that have watched this team closely over the years, there’s been a different feeling with this year’s squad that we haven’t really seen in a while. Maybe it’s the influx of better talent or the philosophy that Dave Tippett brings to the bench, but there’s certainly something different going on here and for the coach, it was all about attitude.
“I read a story about Doug Armstrong of St. Louis talking about his team and will they be ready. They’re going to be ready because they have the knowledge of how to be ready and they have the desire to win back-to-back. The teams that will have that desire to jump in and feel like they have a chance to win will be the ones that will be the most motivated.”
Obviously, the Oilers are a ways away from being compared to a winner like the St Louis Blues, but Dave Tippett does see that type of promise with his club.
“We’re still a young team but I think there’s still tons of growth and they recognize if we get in that situation, it’s an ability for our team to grow. I think we have arguably two of the top players in the world that have an impact on just about every game. When you have players like that and a team playing a strong team game around that, we’ll be one of those teams that I think have a chance to win.”
Take us to the promised land, Tipp. You’ve got a whole city behind you.
You can listen to Tippett’s entire appearance on Oilers Now right here.