Oilers Fire Head Coach Jay Woodcroft

Oilers Fire Head Coach Jay Woodcroft

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have fired head coach Jay Woodcroft and defense coach Dave Manson.

Woodcroft is being replaced by Kris Knoblauch and will be joined by assistant coach Paul Coffey.

Former Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft (NHL.com).

Knoblauch joins the Oilers from the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack, the farm team of the New York Rangers. He also coached Oilers captain Connor McDavid when the two were with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hired by the Oilers in February 2022, Woodcroft coached them to the Western Conference Final that year. He guided them to a 109-point campaign in 2022-23, marking the fifth-best regular-season performance in franchise history.

Despite being upset by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round of the 2023 playoffs, the Oilers began this season considered a Stanley Cup contender. Instead, they’ve lurched to a 3-9-1 start that threatens to derail their season.

One would’ve thought the Oilers would’ve replaced Woodcroft with Knoblauch on Thursday following their loss to the bottom-feeding San Jose Sharks. Instead, it comes after they snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win last night over the Seattle Kraken.

Knoblauch’s connection to McDavid is fueling speculation that the Oilers captain had a hand in deciding Woodcroft’s replacement. It’ll be interesting to see how he addresses their porous goaltending, shaky defense and a popgun offense, especially if McDavid remains hampered by an upper-body injury that sidelined him for two games last month.

For those keeping score, Knoblauch becomes the Oilers’ eighth head coach since 2013. As per Hockey-Reference.com, the others were Ralph Krueger (2013), Dallas Eakins (2014 to 2015), Todd Nelson (2015), Todd McLellan (2016 to 2019), Ken Hitchcock (2019), Dave Tippett (2020 to 2022) and Woodcroft.