By Allan Mitchell (The Athletic)
On Feb. 10, 2022, the Edmonton Oilers fired head coach Dave Tippett. After a strong start (16-5-0), the team lost 16 of 23 (three in extra time) and held a 23-18-3 record on the day of the coaching change.
Jay Woodcroft, 15 years younger than Tippett, brought defence coach Dave Manson, energy and ideas from the AHL coaching job with the Oilers’ farm team (Bakersfield Condors).
Woodcroft’s Oilers tore through the rest of the schedule, finishing 26-9-3. The impressive run continued in the playoffs, with Edmonton getting all the way to the conference finals before bowing out to the eventual-champion Colorado Avalanche.
This season, the Oilers began the year 20-16-2, a doppelganger for the record that forced out Tippett in February.
Since then, Woodcroft has tweaked the defence, uncovered an all-world third line that is putting the boots to opponents and nursed big free-agent goalie Jack Campbell back from the abyss.
Is Woodcroft saving the Oilers’ season again? What tweaks have worked? Is this a long-term solution?