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Jeff Jackson places his stamp on the Edmonton Oilers with new hires Kris Knoblauch, Paul Coffey

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Saturday evening in Seattle, Jay Woodcroft’s Edmonton Oilers delivered their finest and most full recreation of the season. They put 4 targets on the board within the first interval after which smothered the Kraken the remainder of the best way, permitting simply 18 pictures, a measly 4 Grade A pictures, and most significantly only a single purpose in cruising to a convincing 4-1 win.

By Sunday morning, nonetheless, they had been not Jay Woodcroft’s Edmonton Oilers. The revolutionary coach was given his strolling papers after simply 133 video games on the helm, as initially damaged by Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman.Woodcroft firedFriedman was not the one one who thought final evening’s win would possibly purchase Woodcroft slightly time. Amongst them, the Cult of Hockey‘s personal Kurt Leavins in his Sunday morning column, 9 Issues. My very own most up-to-date put up identified that the now former coach had compiled a splendid document over 120 video games, actually 10x the pattern of the dismal dozen that kicked off the present marketing campaign. He departs the group with a document of 79-41-13 over elements of three seasons, his .643 factors share being one of the best of any coach within the historical past of the franchise.

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Into his place steps Kris Knoblauch, employed from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL, as first reported by Frank Seravalli of Day by day Faceoff.

The Oilers themselves verified the strikes, which additionally features a change of defensive assistants from Dave Manson to Paul Coffey.Woodcroft Knoblauch Oilers

Response to those strikes has been swift and brutal, as reported right here by colleague David Staples. Many are understandably upset with Oilers administration, particularly GM Ken Holland who gifted Woodcroft with a brief roster which labored advantageous so long as the membership stayed wholesome, however which offered loads of points after they weren’t. The GM’s signing of Jack Campbell to a 5x $5 million contract in the summertime of 2022 to “remedy” the goaltending place has been beneath intense scrutiny because the outset, and the latest demotion of Campbell to the AHL after a dismal begin solely intensifying that focus.

Make no mistake, nonetheless, right now’s strikes weren’t orchestrated by Holland. As an alternative they bear the fingerprints of Jeff Jackson, employed by the Oilers this previous summer time because the CEO of Hockey Operations. It appeared clear from the outset that Coffey, a Corridor of Fame defenceman from the Oilers dynasty years, was one thing of a proper hand man.

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What’s his reference to Kris Knoblauch? Right here is ESPN senior hockey author Greg Wyshynski, citing a 2017 article on Knoblauch penned by AP hockey author Stephen Whyno.

Wysh Knoblauch

Knoblauch could also be new to the Oilers, however he’s hardly new to town. He performed two seasons with the Edmonton Ice within the WHL earlier than that membership moved to Kootenay in 1998. A 12 months later, he was again for a full five-year stint with College of Alberta Golden Bears. I personally noticed him play a big variety of video games with each golf equipment at two of this metropolis’s true hockey barns, the late and unlamented Agricom and the still-beloved Clare Drake Area. Knoblauch was an enormous, hard-nosed winger with first rate offensive expertise and a powerful two-way recreation. Alas, he lacked the foot velocity to succeed on the skilled degree, and shortly turned to teaching.

He discovered success at that degree, main the (Kootenay) Ice to a shock WHL title in his first 12 months as the pinnacle man in 2010-11. He then completed an analogous feat with Erie Otters of the OHL in 2016-17 after 4 consecutive 50-win seasons, no imply feat in a 68-game schedule. Alongside the best way, he coached Connor McDavid for 3 years, a connection that has seen his title floated as a doable future Oilers coach for some years, notably by distinguished radio host Bob Stauffer.

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Knoblauch then left the junior ranks, serving as Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant for 2 years earlier than turning into the pinnacle man of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack in 2019. His squad, the highest affiliate of New York Rangers, posted a so-so 119-90-32 document throughout his time there.

Now he joins the Oilers as the brand new bench boss. What to anticipate? Jeff Jackson’s phrases from 6 years in the past have a pleasant ring to them right now, or any day for that matter: “He teaches a tradition of profitable and velocity and puck motion, however he empowers all the youngsters.”

That latter challenge is one the place Woodcroft took some criticism, as alternative and ice time have been restricted for children akin to Dylan Holloway, Philip Broberg, and Raphael Lavoie to call three kids drafted in the course of the Ken Holland period. All three are averaging lower than 12 minutes an evening in 2023-24, with Holloway’s purpose in Seattle being the primary level scored by any of them in a mixed 25 GP this season. Some would possibly blame the coach for that deployment, others the administration and scouting that provided the expertise.

It is going to be attention-grabbing to see how Knoblauch approaches that thorny challenge, and deployment extra typically. He may even be tasked with nursing McDavid by a funk that has seen him rating simply 2 factors, each secondary assists, within the 6 video games since his return from a 2-game absence on account of harm. Each he and Leon Draisaitl have been removed from their regular type, an enormous a part of Edmonton’s lagging efficiency this season.

Can Kris Knoblauch press the appropriate buttons? Solely time will inform. However what we are able to say right now is that these are Jeff Jackson’s Edmonton Oilers.

Lately on the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: Hockey world reacts to firing of Jay Woodcroft

LEAVINS: 9 Issues — why not give Woodcroft extra of an opportunity?

STAPLES: Oilers lose their most distinguished fan

McCURDY: What tells us extra about Woodcroft, 120 good video games or 12 dangerous ones? 

Staples: Out of contact Oilers might price Woodcroft his job

LEAVINS: Recreation grades vs Sharks

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