NHL Notebook: How Kris Knoblauch’s calm, humble persona helped turn the Oilers around

Edmonton Oilers Kris Knoblauch
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
Kris Knoblauch’s roots in hockey are deeply tied to Edmonton and Western Canada.
Growing up in Imperial, Sask., a town of 360 located between Saskatoon and Regina, Knoblauch hit the Western Hockey League playing for the Red Deer Rebels, the Edmonton and Kootenay Ice, as well as the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
When he aged out, he headed north back to Edmonton playing for the Rob Daum-led University of Alberta Golden Bears. It’s there where Knoblauch’s abilities shone, racking up 94 goals and 233 points in 191 games over the course of five years. A brief two-year stint playing in the pro ranks, he found himself behind benches in the WHL.
In his first year as the head coach of the Kootenay Ice, he helped lead them to a championship, but after two years, found himself headed east to Erie, Pennsylvania, coaching a rookie Connor McDavid.
Fast forward through the years there, then to two years as an assistant with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and through four years running the bench for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, and Knoblauch found himself in Edmonton.
“I think it’s been understated the impact that Kris has had on the Oilers this year,” Daum told Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli from Austria, where he coaches in their top pro league. “From managing personnel to making key decisions, it’s remarkable how much this team has changed from November to where they are now.”
Daum described Knoblauch as a “humble person” and a “low maintenance guy that you’d never know he was around,” going on to say he sees a lot of him in himself.
“I had the same type of demeanor,” Daum added. “I can tell you that inside, he’s feeling all of these emotions, it’s just that he has this ability to control it and keep it under control. That’s his style.”
His ability to keep things under control has allowed the Oilers to do much of the same, going on an incredible run since he took over in mid-November, and now getting his team to the Stanley Cup Finals.
That presence has been a key for the Oilers, who have followed his suit. Edmonton is playing a game unlike they had in years past, with their commitment to defensive hockey being key.
It’s a big reason why they are there they are today, hours away from the organization’s first berth in the Stanley Cup Finals since 2006.

Sabres should make 11th overall pick available

It’s year four as the Buffalo Sabres general manager for Kevyn Adams, and the club has made some incremental improvements to their team in the years since his hiring.
Despite a step back this season, the 2022-23 Sabres were knocking on the doors of the playoffs, falling a win short of making it into the dance.
And while his team has taken steps forward, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli thinks their 11th overall selection in the upcoming draft should be made available for trade.
Tyler Yaremchuk: We talked a bit earlier in the week about the Devils and the No. 10 pick being available, is there an urgency in Buffalo and do you think the No. 11 pick could be available?
Frank Seravalli: I had Kevyn Adams on the, Frankly Speaking Podcast just a few weeks ago and asked about the idea of how this team has been rebuilding through a rebuild. You’re five years in and don’t really have anything to show for it, this team has the longest playoff drought in pro sports currently since 2011. They have got a ton of work to do and Adams acknowledged it’s time to go and they have to move in the right direction. That doesn’t mean vaulting yourself into a Stanley Cup contender but you have to be a playoff contender and in the hunt. It’s amazing that if this team had 91 points, which would have equalled what they had a season prior, would have won the tiebreaker and made the playoffs. So for me, the No. 11 pick could be ready in 3-5 years, Adams won’t be the GM if they don’t keep moving so I’m not sure why that pick would have a ton of value, but if you can find the right deal that makes your team better right now that’s what this franchise needs.

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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 zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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