EDMONTON — It’s Dave Tippett’s turn to try his luck at turning the Edmonton Oilers around, as he was named the eighth Oilers head coach in 12 seasons on Tuesday.
Tippett’s hiring completes a regime change that began with the firing of head coach Todd McLellan and general manager Peter Chiarelli during the 2018-19 season, with the Oilers handing the reins to new GM Ken Holland, who today hires Tippett to be his head man. Holland flew back from the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo to attend today’s announcement, and was to return to Buffalo immediately after.
Tippett, a 57-year-old native of Moosomin, Saskatchewan, has had head coaching stints in Dallas, Phoenix/Arizona, and now Edmonton, a club that has missed the playoffs in 12 of the past 13 seasons. Tippett’s teams made the playoffs in eight of his first nine seasons behind an NHL bench, but the success ran dry in Arizona, where his Coyotes missed the playoffs in each of his final five seasons in the desert.
While those Coyotes clubs were handicapped by a carousel of owners and an inability to spend to the cap, in Edmonton Tippett takes on a roster that features two of the top young players in the game today in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The former has won two of the past three Art Ross Trophies, while the latter was the only NHL player to score 50 goals and 100 points in the 2018-19 season.
Many of the Oilers’ problems have stemmed from defending — they finished seventh worst in the NHL, allowing 3.31 goals against per game — an area that has traditionally been Tippett’s stock in trade. Holland’s job will be to find Tippett more depth players who can chip in some offence, so McDavid and Draisaitl don’t have to carry the team night in and night out. And, of course, a goaltender to go along with Mikko Koskinen.
Given a roster with a chance, Tippett’s resume says he can coach a team into the playoffs, and create a culture where everybody is accountable to a certain style, from the top line right down to the fourth. The onus will fall on the Oilers leaders, starting with their captain McDavid, to embrace Tippett’s style.
If that mean a few less points in the regular season, but a chance to replace those points in the playoffs, McDavid will no doubt comply.