Off the Top of My Head: Steve Staios’ post-NHL career, Dylan Holloway’s recovery, and Jesse Puljujarvi
1 month ago
Steve Staios already had a couple of OHL titles in his hip pocket when he left the Hamilton Bulldogs in October of 2022 to join the Edmonton Oilers, the team he played 573 NHL games with, as a special advisor in hockey operations.
Like many observers, I thought Staios was being groomed as the replacement for Oilers’ GM Ken Holland, now in the final year of his contract. That was fine by me. I not only knew Staios as a solid straight shooter from his time playing for the Oilers, he’d paid his dues, and done it very impressively, as president and GM with the Bulldogs in his hometown.
It’s didn’t work out that way of course. The Oilers brought in Connor McDavid’s agent, Jeff Jackson, last August and made him CEO of hockey operations. Staios, in turn, resigned his position with the Oilers and was later named president of hockey operations by the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 29 – representing a reunion with Ottawa’s new majority owner Michael Andlauer, who also owned the Bulldogs.
Staios, 50, was made interim GM just a month later after GM Pierre Dorion got the sack on Nov. 1. Then, just a week ago, on Dec. 31, the Senators removed the interim label. Staios returned to his old stomping grounds last night to watch his team end up on the wrong end of a 3-1 score on a Zach Hyman hat-trick against the Oilers, who are rolling along with a seven-game win streak on the go.
With the loss, the Senators sit at 14-21-0 and remain dead-last in the Eastern Conference by a bunch. It’s obvious Staios has a lot of work to do, but he knew that when he took the job. Whether we’re talking putting in extra time on the ice or in the gym as a player or doing due diligence in the front office, Staios never been afraid of rolling up his sleeves and putting in the work to get things done.
A NEW APPROACH
“It’s a collaborative approach,” Staios said the day the interim tag was removed and Dave Poulin was named senior vice-president of hockey operations and Ryan Bowness was promoted to associate GM. “Far too often in the past here, it hasn’t been that.”
Staios went to work even before his interim tag was removed, firing coach D.J. Smith and making Jacques Martin interim head coach and former captain Daniel Alfredsson an assistant. That’s the gig in the big chair. We saw that here when Holland and Jackson sacked Jay Woodcroft and brought in Kris Knoblauch.
As an aside, Staios is the third former Oilers’ player who is working as a GM right now. Bill Guerin, who played with Edmonton from 1997-2000, has been the boss in Minnesota since August 2019. Mike Grier, who played with the Oilers 1996-2002, has been calling the shots in San Jose since July of 2022.
DELAY FOR HOLLOWAY
Nov 2, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Dylan Holloway (55) tries to carry the puck around Dallas Stars defensemen Miro Heiskanen (4) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Dylan Holloway gets lots of breaks, just not many good ones. The latest example of that is the Bakersfield Condors having a pair of road games against the San Diego Gulls postponed this weekend because of a water main break at Pechanga Arena. The result is Holloway’s return to game action on a rehab stint with the Condors will be delayed a week.
Holloway, 22, who is coming back from a knee injury, was set to get back into game action with the Condors with an eye to a recall to Edmonton. Holloway was supposed to get a look at centre – he was pencilled in between Raphael Lavoie and Lane Pederson vs. San Diego — and there has been plenty of talk he could get a look in the middle when he returns to the Oilers.
While that might still be in the works, this delay means Holloway won’t play until next weekend at the earliest in a home-and-home series with San Jose.
JESSE TAKES A TWIRL
Former Oiler Jesse Puljujarvi, who is making a comeback from having double hip surgery last off-season, made his AHL debut with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 2-1 road win over the Springfield Thunderbirds Friday.
Puljujarvi, who inked a professional tryout contract last week, got some time on the top line with Colin White and Vinnie Hinostroza, but was held pointless.
ON THE WAY
The Oilers now hit the road for three straight games, starting Tuesday when they take on the Blackhawks in Chicago. They’re in Detroit to face the Red Wings Thursday and in Montreal next Saturday to play the Canadiens. After that, they’ll play five of their next six games at home, starting Jan. 16 when the Toronto Maple Leafs come calling.
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