Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Day After 11.0: Jay Woodcroft first Oilers head coach ejected from game since 1983 as his team drops to 2-8-1 on season
By Zach Laing3 months ago
Jay Woodcroft joined Oilers lore Monday night as his club fell 6-2 to the Vancouver Canucks in another misery-riddled loss.
It wasn’t for a valiant coaching effort or from a single decision that turned everything around — no matter how good Dylan Holloway looked playing with Leon Draisaitl in a new-look lineup. It was for getting ejected from the game.
Woodcroft, in his own words, “asked about the play on Holloway,” wherein the Oilers forward was knocked down to the ice in a similar fashion to how Connor McDavid knocked down Pius Suter six minutes prior in the third period, one that earned the Oilers captain two minutes in the box.
The lore Woodcroft enters into is thanks to that ejection, making him the first — and as far as I can tell — only other coach in the history of the Edmonton Oilers to get ejected alongside Glen Sather, the latter of whom tossed from a Feb. 3, 1983 game. In Woodcroft’s case, it was the cumulative of an all-around frustrating game for his squad.
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
With reports surfacing Sunday and earlier Monday that his job was in jeopardy, his squad came out looking to make a statement. Hot and heavy out of the gate, the Oilers peppered Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko with 20 shots on net in the first period alone. Defenceman Mattias Ekholm opened the scoring for Edmonton 6:42 into the game, and they built off that, even with Canucks rearguard Quinn Hughes getting credit for an Oilers own goal.
But with seven minutes left in the frame, a goal — this one scored by Pius — like so many have been this season, seemed to deflate the Oilers’ side. 1:30 later, Brock Boeser extended the Canucks’ lead to 3-1, and this game, in the bigger picture, was all but over.
Edmonton, to their credit, showed some fight. Leon Draisaitl made it a one-goal game in the second before Nils Hoglander regained the two-spot. In the third, frustration started to boil over for the Oilers and Woodcroft.
Having battled on the ice amid a shift four minutes into the third, J.T. Miller stepped into McDavid in front of the Canucks net, and the Oilers captain didn’t like it, responding with a shot back. Zach Hyman jumped into the fray, and chaos ensued. Fourty-five seconds later, after a Stuart Skinner save, seemingly one of few on the night, McDavid collided with Suter innocuously, and the former found himself in the box after another scrum.
Woodcroft would get ejected from the game with seven minutes to go in the frame.
“It wasn’t profanity-laced or anything. It was a question; it wasn’t well received when I asked the question,” he said, adding he’s “got to be better.”
“I didn’t think it crossed the line at all, but it’s sometimes the way you send a message, or ask a question, the way it’s received might be not in the manner you intend it to.”
While his ejection has him joining Sather in the Oilers’ Guide and Record Book, it’s certainly under different circumstances. Slat’s ejection came well after referee Ron Hoggarth tossed out tough guy Dave Semenko, as Stripes said Semenko intimidated Jay Wells in a fight.
“All I said was he made a chicken-bleep call throwing Semenko out,” said Sather, as written in a Feb. 4, 1983 edition of the Edmonton Journal, talking about a bench minor he received in the first period.
In the third, with four minutes to go, however, Sather blew his cool when a Kings player dumped Wayne Gretzky to the ice, offering a choking sign to Hoggarth.
“A guy just dumped Gretzky and he figured Wayne had taken a dive,” Sather said. “So he looked the other way. It just got to the point where I didn’t know what else I could do. So started rubbing my throat.”
Sather was tossed from a Dec. 5 game earlier in the year, accusing linesman Randy Mitton of carrying a “vendetta” against Oilers’ forward Ken Linseman.
Woodcroft, however, isn’t likely to be thinking of another potential ejection any time soon. No, he’ll need to focus on the Oilers getting ready for an arduous task on Thursday night: beating the zero-win San Jose Sharks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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