5 times the Oilers have changed coaches this season - Sports1
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5 times the Oilers have changed coaches this season

The Edmonton Oilers have won just two of their last 13 games, and there are growing voices in the oil town calling for management to change head coaches Dave Tippet.

After starting the season 16-5-0, the Oilers fell to a 2-9-2 run and are now 18-14-2 with 38 points in 34 games. Edmonton scored the most points in the West on Dec. 1; when they woke up Sunday (Jan. 9), the Oilers were no longer in the playoffs.

Tippett is in his third season on the Oilers’ bench, and while his .599 is the second-highest in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Glenn Souther, many see it as the The team will need major adjustments to correct course and reach its potential in the final 48 games of the 2021-22 season.

In the NHL since 1979 Merged with World Hockey Association (WHA), the Oilers have only changed their head coach five times this season. Reviewing these moves reveals more differences than similarities to the Oilers’ current state.

While there’s been a prolonged slump before every midseason coaching change, none of Edmonton’s are above .500 or in playoff position. Only one time completed more than 40% of the Oilers schedule.

With each new coach, the Oilers’ scoring rate has improved. But they’ve only qualified for the playoffs once after changing a backup owner midway through. Here are five coaching changes this season in franchise history.

1980-81: Glenn Souther replaces Brian Watson

Souther coached the Oilers in their first NHL season before deciding to focus solely on his role as president/general manager and handing the reins to Brian Watson. But after just 18 games, Suther brought them back, releasing Watson on November 22, 1980.

Glen Sather (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The Oilers started the season 4-9-5, and when Watson was fired, they were in a situation where they had won only twice in 12 games and were below the playoff line. Led by Suther, the Oilers advanced to the playoffs 25-26-11 as they swept the Montreal Canadiens in a shocking preliminaries.

Souther stayed on the Oilers’ bench for another eight seasons, leading the team to four Stanley Cups before stepping down again to focus entirely on being general manager. Chief assistant John Muckler was promoted to head coach in 1989-90, and in his first season led the Oilers to another Stanley Cup win. In 1991, Muckler left Edmonton as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and was replaced by assistant Ted Green.

1993-94: Suther replaces Ted Green

After more than four years exclusively as president/general manager, after the Oilers started the 1993-94 season 3-18-3, Suther once again called himself out of coaching retirement. On November 26, 1993, when Suther fired Green and named himself head coach, Edmonton had won just one of its previous 23 games and had the fewest points in the entire league.

related: Oilers coach Tippet expires in Edmonton

The Oilers were an even more successful team under Suther, going 22-27-11 after a bench change. But the Oilers have been so engulfed by a poor start that their season still at the bottom of the Pacific Division is over.

After the season, Suther resigned as coach and began searching for Edmonton’s next coach. General Motors finally named his successor on August 2, 1994, hiring George Burnett, who coached Edmonton’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Cape Breton Oilers for the first two seasons. George Burnett).

1994-95: Ron Lowe replaces Burnett

After a hiatus from October 1, 1994 to January 11, 1995, the 1994-95 season started more than three months late and the schedule was reduced to just 48 games.

It was in this abnormal situation that Burnett made his Edmonton debut, but the rookie NHL coach never found his footing, lasting all 35 before being fired on April 6, 1995. game after Edmonton’s seventh straight loss fell to 12-20-3.Burnett’s turbulent tenure ended with Stripped ‘C’ captain Shayne Corson.

Assistant coach Ron Lowe is in command for the remainder of the season. Edmonton finished the season with a 5-7-1 record in its final 13 games, finished the season with the second-worst record in the Western Conference, and missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Love would continue as the Oilers’ head coach for the next four seasons, leading Edmonton to playoff berths in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

2014-15: Todd Nelson replaces Dallas Eakins

On December 15, 2014, the Oilers general manager Craig McTavish made the team’s first in-season coaching change in nearly 20 years, firing Dallas Eakins. Eakins), who had won just once in their past 16 games and dropped to last place in the NHL’s overall standings. .

Todd Nelson
Todd Nelson (Ross Bonander/THW)

Eakins played 31 games in his second season as backup boss and ended his tenure with the Oilers with a 36-63-14 record, the highest scoring percentage among players who coached more than 82 games Worst in franchise history (0.381).

Todd Nelson, then head coach of the Oklahoma City Barons, an AHL affiliate of the Oilers, was promoted to interim head coach of the NHL club. After a bench change, the Oilers failed to win the next six games and only managed two of the 14 games before Eakins was fired. Their final season in the Western Conference is over.

Although he only played 17-25-9, Nelson was able to stabilize a dysfunctional team, and win praise Many observers believe the interim head coach should be in the role permanently. However, the Oilers are undergoing organizational changes, with Peter Chiarelli succeeding MacTavish as general manager. Chiarelli’s then-veteran coaches Todd McClellan and Nelson eventually left the organization.

2018-19: Ken Hitchcock replaces Todd McClellan

McClellan put the Oilers in the right direction, leading them to the playoffs for the first time in a decade in his second season, 2016-17. But a disappointing 2017-18 season ended without a playoff berth, followed by a 9-10-1 under-par start to 2018-19 and a six-seven drop at the Oilers Afterwards, McClellan was fired on November 20, 2018.

In search of a turnaround, Chiarelli turned to legendary Ken Hitchcock, who just retired but took his chance coaching hometown team. Hitchcock went 26-28-8 in the final 62 games with a .484 rating, just shy of McClellan’s 0.475 in the first 20 games. Hitchcock was fired after the Oilers finished the season with 11 points in the Pacific Division’s penultimate playoff berth.

At the same time, Chiarelli was also brought to the door. In his first major move as general manager and president of hockey operations, Ken Holland, is to hire Tippett as 16th Became the head coach in team history on May 28, 2019. This brings us to where we are today.

As Edmonton’s history has shown, a midseason bench change almost always sparks improvement. Coaching changes in the NHL have led to an uptick this season, especially the Vancouver Canucks, who started 8-15-2 under Travis Green and 8-0-1 under Bruce Boudreaux lead.

But despite calls to the contrary, Tippett’s departure seems imminent. At least for now. One or two more losses and that could change quickly.



Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings’ 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.


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