Kris Knoblauch, Oilers have ‘a lot to look forward to next season’

Edmonton Oilers Kris Knoblauch
Photo credit:Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Nestler
19 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers had a very successful 2023-24 season, overcoming a horrendous start to become one of the best teams in the NHL, make the playoffs and advance to the Stanley Cup Final — all with a brand-new head coach at the helm.
But in sports, you are often remembered for what you did last, and unfortunately for the Oilers, their last memory will be losing 2-1 to the Florida Panthers in Game 7 of the Final. 
“It’s unfortunate,” Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch told reporters Wednesday. “You often get defined on winning that last game, and we were so close to winning it, but I don’t know. I think there are so many positives throughout the season that we should be happy about. Obviously, we got a group that’s very disappointed, angry and upset that we didn’t win Game 7, but I felt with five more minutes, we would have tied that game up… We have a lot to look forward to next season.”
The Oilers will certainly be among the Stanley Cup favourites again next season. They have been in the conversation for the past few years and now have the experience and built-up calluses from a Cup Final loss.
Next year, they will have more motivation, a coach with some games under his belt and a chance to do exactly what the Panthers did this year: win the Stanley Cup after losing in the Final the previous season. 
“I think adversity makes us all stronger,” Knoblauch added. “We learn from it. You either have to adapt or you run away from it, and obviously, if you run away from it, you’re not getting better.
“It’s made me stronger. I’ve been able to adapt and get new ideas on how to communicate systems and how we’re teaching and all that stuff. I think it’s been beneficial, but also in my first year as a head coach, there’s obviously a lot of learning for me.”
While nothing has been decided, Knoblauch hopes to keep a similar group moving forward to 2024-25. That includes handling some free agents, but also bringing back some or all of the coaching staff. 
For the first-year coach with only 69 regular-season games on his resume, his staff was vital in his success. Why wouldn’t he want to bring them all back for another ride? 
“Coming in, having a coaching staff is very important,” he said. “You guys are working together and everyone’s got different strengths, weaknesses, and it’s important that you’re all in sync. I came into this and I had no say whatsoever on who the staff is going to be.
“Even if I had a clean slate that day when I came here and was given the opportunity to go out and pick my staff and hire who I wanted to, I don’t think I would have been able to get a staff as qualified and capable as the one I have here. I don’t know what we are doing moving forward. I assume everyone’s coming back. I would like everyone to come back.”

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