The Edmonton Oilers fired head coach Jay Woodcroft and assistant coach Dave Manson on Sunday.
Kris Knoblauch, formerly the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, was named to replace Woodcroft. Knoblauch, 45, was in his fifth season coaching Hartford, a New York Rangers affiliate, and will guide an NHL team for the first time in his career. He coached Oilers captain Connor McDavid in Erie for all three of his Ontario Hockey League seasons (2012-15).
Hockey Hall of Famer Paul Coffey will replace Manson.
“As the coach coming in, you can only do so much,” Knoblauch said. “You can only do so much changing the systems and lines. The players have to have some stability. There are things as a coach you want to put your stamp on, and this is really important for me. I see that we’re failing in this area; we need to improve that.”
Led by three-time Hart Trophy winner McDavid, expectations were high in Edmonton this season. The Oilers, however, have lost four of their last five games and have limped to a 3-9-1 record this season.
Woodcroft said he wasn’t concerned about his job security after Edmonton dropped a 3-2 decision to the struggling San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
“No. I worry about taking care of my daily business and my daily process and making sure that I give my players something to focus on and concentrate on,” Woodcroft said. “No one’s happy with where we’re at. We all own it. We can better, and that’s where my focus is.”
Woodcroft, 47, posted a 79-41-13 record as head coach of the Oilers after replacing Dave Tippett on Feb. 10, 2022. He guided Edmonton to the Western Conference final in 2021-22 before being swept by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche.
Now Knoblauch will attempt to get the talented Oilers moving in the right direction.
“It’s a reset,” Knoblauch said. “Hopefully our players see this and it takes the pressure off them, (like), ‘Alright, let’s get back to basics.’ It’s not going to just happen with a new coach or a new message. But I do think that there is a very strong group in there and they’re a very talented group and things will get worked out.”
Last season, the Oilers were bounced in six games during the second-round loss to the eventual Cup-champion Vegas Golden Knights.
–Field Level Media