Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers fire Jay Woodcroft
By Zach Laing3 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers have fired head coach Jay Woodcroft, becoming the 10th head coach fired in the last 14 years.
Woodcroft loses his position behind the Oilers’ bench a day after the club fell 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks Thursday night, plummeting their record to 2-9-1 through the first 12 games of the season. The club’s dreadful start to the season is one of the worst in franchise history and comes with them facing a 14-standings point deficit in the Pacific Division.
His tenure in Edmonton sees him finish with a 79-41-13 record in a regular season, earning a .643 points percentage, the most among any head coach in franchise history.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman first reported news of the firing, and it comes a day after the Oilers played their best game of the season, beating the Seattle Kraken 4-1 Saturday night. The Oilers also saw Dave Manson dismissed from the staff, while the club announced Kris Koblauch had been named head coach.
Woodcroft, 47, had been with the franchise since 2015-16, when he was hired as an assistant on Todd McLellan’s coaching staff. Despite the latter losing his job after the 2017-18 season, Woodcroft was re-assigned to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, the Oilers affiliate, where he enjoyed three successful seasons.
His first year there saw the team post a 42-21-3 record, a massive improvement after missing the playoffs in three prior seasons. While they missed the playoffs in his second year, his final full season behind the bench saw the Condors win the Pacific Division playoff tournament, the AHL’s playoff format amid a COVID-shortened season. At the time of his promotion to Edmonton in his fourth season, the Condors had an 18-9-4 record as they rode an 8-1-1 stretch.
When he joined the Oilers, he helped a disjointed group during Dave Tippett’s tenure. The latter appeared to lose the room, with players later saying they felt Woodcroft’s hiring helped give them more directive. Down the stretch run of that season, the Oilers went 26-9-3 as one of the best teams in the league. They beat the LA Kings in the first round of the 2022 playoffs in seven games before rolling over the Calgary Flames in five — a series that shook their franchise, leading to Matthew Tkachuk’s and Johnny Gaudreau’s departures.
The Oilers, however, were no match for a stacked Colorado Avalanche team, who swept Edmonton in four games en route to a Stanley Cup championship. Still, it earned Woodcroft a three-year contract with the club, one set to expire after this campaign.
Edmonton finished the 2022-23 season with a 50-23-9 record, earning themselves the second spot in the Pacific Division and another first-round series against the Kings. The Oilers took six games this time to knock Los Angeles out of the playoffs, but the club faltered in the second round against the Vegas Golden Knights, losing in six games. Much like the year prior with the Avalanche, Vegas won the Stanley Cup — their first in the franchise’s six-year history.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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