All the Answers
Photo credit:Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
11 months ago
If you want all the answers for what ails the Edmonton Oilers when they’re in the tank, just ask a fanbase that’s as passionate as any in the NHL what to do about it. When things go south, when things go sour, the obvious solution is to fire the coach. After all, sacking the suit behind the bench has worked so well here in the past. You can look it up.
So, it goes yet again with the Oilers on a 3-7-2 toot after back-to-back OT losses to New Jersey and the New York Islanders that has them sitting at 18-12-2. The answer, apparently, to this sudden trip down the tubes is to get rid of coach Dave Tippett, and the sooner the better. With a promising start peed away, some fans are fixated on Tippett. A quick twirl around the Twitterverse or fan websites like this one tells you that much. You want him gone.
The frustration many fans calling for the sack are feeling dates back as far as the Oilers’ loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup final. The lack of success since then really isn’t the fault of Tippett or GM Ken Holland — the reality is they have only been running the show here for 159 regular season games, or less than the equivalent of two full seasons and have a record of 90-56-13 – but it is their problem. Patience is a tough sell.
So, you get what we’ve got here. Oilers off to a great start. “It’s Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and a ridiculously hot power play.” Oilers lose. “Fire Dave Tippett.” Starting goaltender Mike Smith out for 26 games. “Fire Dave Tippett.” Half the blueline is out with COVID or injuries. “Fire Dave Tippett.” I’m exaggerating of course, but not by much. The reality is there’s much more to success or failure than who calls the shots behind the bench.
Oct 22, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett looks on in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
The Oilers are a team that has had nine – NINE – coaches since that joyride to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup. In order, Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins, Todd Nelson, Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock and now Tippett have run the bench. Hitchcock, Quinn and Tippett are all top-20 in career NHL coaching wins.
Granted, Quinn, rest his soul, was well past it when he was here, but the point is the Oilers haven’t had a collection of no-clue guys take a shot at getting it right. Coaching matters, but there’s a lot more components to success than the person drawing up the game plan. Ten straight years out of the playoffs (2006-07 to 2015-16) under seven different coaches tells us that much, no?
Look, I’m not going to sit here with a straight face and try to tell you that Tippett is somehow above being criticized for decisions he makes, be it in the line-up he dresses, how he puts players together or the game plan he employs given the personnel he has to work with. You don’t get a free pass because you’ve been around a long time or have a Stanley Cup ring or a Jack Adams Award. It comes with the gig.
No matter what their day job is, fans are going to have their say about Tippett as a coach whether they have even the slightest clue what they are talking about or not, whether they have considered shortcomings in how the team is put together and injuries or not. It is part of being a fan. It follows that there are social media general managers everywhere.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Like I’ve said more than once before, I understand the sentiment that generates all the noise from the fan base – from well thought out arguments to the ranting that should be wRiTtEn LIkE tHIs — including this current “fire Tippett” fixation I’m reading day after day of late.
I’m not going to say you’re wrong for believing that firing Tippett here and now will, in itself, turn things around for the Oilers. I don’t need to. This team’s history over the last decade tells us that. Firing Tippett might be what you want, but I’m not convinced it’s what the team needs, and I don’t see any chance of it happening this season.