Ken Holland has himself in a precarious position.
Throughout his storied NHL career, he’s never fired a head coach in season. And in Edmonton, it doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon.
Holland said Tuesday morning it wasn’t an option he was fond of.
“I don’t believe in it,” said Holland, whose Oilers have skidded to a 2-9-2 record since Dec. 2. “I believe we have a good team.
“Whatever happens is on me.”
But the truth of the matter is, all options need to be on the table for these Oilers. The team has faltered significantly and while Holland’s taking the pressure off Tippett, that red hot iron is just going to burn hotter now.
“We’re going to start to win. I believe in the coach. I believe in the team. I believe in the leadership of the team. I believe in their determination,” added Holland. “If we can win a couple of games and get our swagger back a little bit and feel good about ourselves and start to ride the wave… we’ve got to turn this thing around. I believe we’re going to get going here.”
But what if the Oilers don’t turn it around? What if they lose another, say, four of their next five? Then what happens?
Despite the break right now, the Oilers are in a tough spot. They play Ottawa on Saturday at home, then have games against the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators. Beyond the struggling Sens, the other four clubs are all playing very good hockey.
Florida and Nashville sit in the league’s top six standings. Calgary always plays the Oilers hard, while the Vancouver Canucks have surged massively under Bruce Boudreau.
Holland went out and said he wasn’t open to trading either his first-round pick, or top prospects, too. While it’s understandable he may not want to do so for a one-year rental, which I think is the right move, he should be trying as hard as he can to move that pick for a cost-controlled player who has some terms left on his deal.
Think Jakob Chychrun.
And while Holland noted, too, that the answer has to come within the organization, he poured cold water all over the idea of Stuart Skinner being recalled. Statistically, Skinner has been the best Oilers goaltender this year and it’s not particularly close. How much more experience does he need to get before he’s an NHL goaltender? I think the answer is certainly less than the Oilers do.
No matter what happens in the coming days, weeks and months, there’s one thing that’s clear: the Oilers are digging themselves a deep hole.