Over the past 12 seasons, the Edmonton Oilers have gone through head coaches as fast as Spinal Tap went through drummers. Pat Quinn, Tom Renny, Ralph Kreuger, Dallas Eakins, Todd Nelson, Todd McLellan, and Ken Hitchock all had their place at the controls of the Oilers before the team hired current head coach Dave Tippett.
Now entering his third season with the Oilers, the pressure is on Tippett to not only make the playoffs but also advance deep into the postseason. (From: “Staples: ‘Is Dave Tippett putting the heat on his Edmonton Oilers players? Or is the heat on him?’, Edmonton Journal, 10/04/21) Anything less with a team led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would be considered a serious let down.
Tippett, who has added some needed stability to the organization, is in the final year of a three-year contract that saw him earn just under $3 million per season. However, Oilers general manager (GM) Ken Holland hasn’t given any indication as to whether Tippett will be re-signed. Any contract extension for the Oilers head coach is most likely tied to his playoff success this year, and winning the Stanley Cup is something both the Oilers and Tippett are craving.
Tippett’s Fate Tied to Oilers’ Playoff Success
There are a few scenarios that will play out this season:
1) No playoffs. If Tippett can’t get the Oilers into the playoffs, it’s a safe bet that he won’t be back next season. With a great start to the 2021-22 season, the team missing the playoffs isn’t likely to happen but stranger things have happened.
2) No playoff success. If the Oilers make the playoffs but don’t advance past the first round, the team may have a new coach next season.
3) Win one playoff round. Things begin to get interesting if the Oilers win one round and can’t advance past the second round. Will Holland keep Tippett then?
4) Win two playoff rounds. If the Oilers are able to advance at least two rounds in the playoffs, there might be a good chance that Tippett will be invited back to finish the job.
5) Oilers make the Finals. You have to believe Tippett will get a new contract.
6) Oilers win the Stanley Cup (Dare to dream, Oilers fans). The choice will be Tippett’s. Does he want to come back for a repeat or ride off into the sunset with a Cup under his belt?
Winning the Big One has Eluded the Former Jack Adams Award Winner
Tippett’s coaching resume is impressive when you look at his regular-season record. Before joining the Oilers, he had led the Dallas Stars and the Phoenix Coyotes to eight playoff appearances. His coaching record included two 50-win seasons with the Stars in 2005-06 and 2006-07 and one 50-win season with the Coyotes in 2009-10 where he was awarded the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year. However, for all of his regular-season success, Tippett’s teams have never advanced past the Western Conference Final.
Will Tippett Finally Reach the Top of the Mountain in 2021-22?
There’s no doubt Tippett is a good coach, and an excellent communicator. He is well respected around the NHL, and many are pulling for him to take the Oilers all the way. Sometimes, though, he gets criticized for playing McDavid and Draisaitl together too often and choosing veterans over younger players, but his head coaching record of 630-plus NHL wins does speak for itself.
With the Oilers, Tippett is surrounded by a capable group of assistant coaches, including former Calgary Flames head coaches Jim Playfair and Glen Gulutzan. However, as some hockey experts will tell you, a coach is only as good as his players. Holland has built a strong group for Tippett to lead, and after a great start to the 2021-22 season, things are looking positive. However, questions remain about the Oilers’ current defensive group, as well as overall team toughness and goaltending. If you were to place a bet, you can be sure Tippett would do anything to join the elite group of Stanley Cup-winning coaches, which includes former Oilers Hall of Fame coach and GM Glen Sather.
Oilers fans are hoping Tippett is the right coach to take the team all the way but time will tell. This is a big season, not only for Tippett and GM Holland, but for the organization. If you’re a fan of the Oilers, this season is going to be fun to watch.
D. Edward Bochon covers the Edmonton Oilers. His background is in marketing writing where he worked with the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Football Club (now known as the Elks), and the Edmonton Rush of the NLL.