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Rishaug: Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft’s job in jeopardy

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Photo credit:Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
3 months ago
An impotent start to the Edmonton Oilers season is starting to increase the internal temperature as the Alberta winter nears.
The heat has increased so much that TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reported Sunday that head coach Jay Woodcroft’s job is in jeopardy.
“I do,” Rishaug told TSN’s Laura Diakun in a standup when asked if Woodcroft’s job is in jeopardy. “And I agree it’s early in the season, and it seems odd to be talking about something this drastic already, but this team has Stanley Cup expectations, and they’ve shown nothing so far this season.
“Unfortunately for Jay Woodcroft, and he knows this, it’s a results-oriented business, and they’ve had no results so far. I do believe that this option is on the table. If 10 out of 10 is where you’re at when you fire a coach, I’d put this in the seven-and-a-half to eight range.
“It is getting to be situation critical time.”
During  Sportsnet’s Saturday Headlines segment, Elliotte Friedman said, “the word in Edmonton tonight is quiet,” after their 5-2 loss earlier in the day to the Nashville Predators, but that “we’ll just see where this goes over the next couple of days and games.” Mark Spector, meanwhile, wrote in a column that “everything is on the table in Edmonton,” including a potential coaching change.
The Oilers are set to embark on a week-long, three-game road trip that includes stops in Vancouver Monday, San Jose Wednesday and Seattle next Saturday night. This comes after a 2-7-1 start to kick off the season.
Rishaug said the outcome of this trio of games could determine the Oilers’ next steps.
“They need to show something signicant on this road trip, or there will be changes,” Rishaug said. “It’s early right now, we’ll see what happens in the next couple of games.”
Woodcroft has been in the Oilers organization since 2015, when he joined the team as an assistant coach on then-head coach Todd McLellan’s staff, holding the role for three years. He was then given the chance to be the head coach of the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, where he had lots of success running the bench.
He was promoted to the Oilers head coach spot on Feb. 10, 2022, taking over for Dave Tippett, who was fired that same day. Since then, the Oilers have recorded the fifth most wins in the NHL, with 78, and the eighth-best points percentage, with a .650 rate.
Through the remainder of the 2021-22 regular season, the Oilers went 26-9-3, finishing second in the Pacific Division. They eliminated the LA Kings in seven games in the first round of the playoffs and rolled over the Calgary Flames in five games. Edmonton, however, was no match for a powerhouse Colorado Avalanche team, who swept them in four games en route to a Stanley Cup championship.
Last year, the Oilers finished second in the Pacific Division again, beating the Kings in six games, before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games as they went on to win the Cup.
Rishaug noted Woodcroft’s ability to push the right buttons for this team over his time in Edmonton, saying “management has to be taking that into account,” adding the club could look at other options beyond just firing Woodcroft, with lineup changes or a trade possible to shake up the team.
The next few weeks will be interesting to follow.

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@oilersnation.com.

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