Oilers fire coach Jay Woodcroft, hire AHL’s Kris Knoblauch

Associated Press
Nov 12, 2023, 12:52 PM ET
3 Minute Read

Jay Woodcroft, the coach of the Edmonton Oilers, has been terminated following a disappointing start to the season. The team, which was expected to contend for the Stanley Cup, lost 10 of their first 13 games, leading to Woodcroft’s dismissal.

Woodcroft was relieved of his duties after the team’s recent road trip, which concluded with a 4-1 victory against the Seattle Kraken on Saturday night. Despite this win, it was not enough to save Woodcroft’s job after a streak of four consecutive losses, including a humiliating defeat against the San Jose Sharks, who are currently the worst-performing team in the NHL.

Kris Knoblauch, former junior hockey coach of team star Connor McDavid, has been appointed as Woodcroft’s replacement. Additionally, Hall of Famer Paul Coffey will join Knoblauch’s staff as an assistant, while Dave Manson has been let go. Knoblauch is now the 10th coach in 15 seasons for the organization and the fifth since McDavid joined the team in 2015.

Following the loss in San Jose, Woodcroft denied being concerned about his job security, stating, “No one’s happy with where we’re at. We all own it. We can be better, and that’s where my focus is.”

Under Woodcroft’s coaching, the Oilers struggled due to poor goaltending, weak defense, and a lack of accountability, despite having MVPs like McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

“I don’t really know what to say,” expressed Draisaitl. “We tend to outshoot other teams consistently, probably out-chance other teams consistently. Not in sync right now.”

The team’s goaltenders have drastically underperformed, with a combined save percentage of .866, ranking last in the league. As a result, the Oilers have allowed nearly four goals per game, placing them second to last in the league standings.

Even more concerning, McDavid, who previously had an outstanding scoring record, went scoreless in the last two games.

This season was considered crucial for the Oilers to secure their first championship since 1990, but the disappointing start has dashed those prospects. General manager Ken Holland, who expressed confidence in the team’s competitiveness, is now under scrutiny for the roster’s performance.

Knoblauch, known for his previous success coaching McDavid, is now tasked with turning the team’s fortunes around as the replacement coach.

Steve Smith will take over as the Wolf Pack’s interim coach, and the organization will initiate the search for a permanent head coach.


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