martes, septiembre 27, 2022
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New Oilers coach Woodcroft arrives with contemporary strategy for stagnant staff

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EDMONTON — In a company that has spit out classic names like Tom Renney, Todd McLellan, Dave Tippett and Ken Hitchcock, Jay Woodcroft arrives as Bakersfield beaujolais. A contemporary new tannin for a drained, thirsty palate.

A profession that started as Mike Babcock’s video coach in Detroit hitched its wagon to McLellan’s San Jose and Edmonton years, arriving this week for his first head teaching job within the Nationwide Hockey League as a well-cellared minor league coach. Woodcroft is “humbled and privileged,” and greater than ready for his first job.

These are the 2 sides of the Edmonton Oilers newest head coach.

On one hand, he seems able to do the job. On the opposite, he has by no means completed it earlier than. Not at this degree.

“Properly, after I made the choice to go all the way down to Bakersfield a couple of years in the past, I did it with the intent of at some point changing into an NHL head coach,” started Woodcroft, 45. “And in my time in Bakersfield, I’ve realized that the most important distinction between being an assistant coach and a head coach is the distinction between having an opinion and being the one who makes the choice.

“It is an enormous accountability and never one which I am going to take flippantly.”

Woodcroft steps right into a staff that has some points, however must be higher than it has performed over its final 25 video games. A staff that finds itself on the level the place it’s time to win, however merely can not unlock the important thing to a method that may each get them to the playoffs and win as soon as they get there.

Leon Draisaitl mentioned on Friday that his Oilers don’t depart the dressing room with a plan to play 5-4 hockey, whereas Ryan Nugent-Hopkins provided that their propensity to surrender the sport’s first purpose (or two) creates a recreation the place, ultimately, they want 4 or 5 targets to win.

Regardless of the offensive expertise right here, with questionable goaltending and a monitor document of free defensive play, there’s completely no query that constructing a extra stout defensive posture is precedence No. 1 for Woodcroft.

“We would have completely different definitions of precisely what checking is,” he mentioned. “I imagine checking begins within the offensive zone. I imagine checking is hanging on to the puck in carrying groups out within the offensive zone. It’s working into positions to set your self as much as come again into your individual zone. So, checking might need just a little bit completely different definition there however definitely an space that we are going to tackle as we transfer ahead every day with our group.”

So, right here’s the million-dollar query: Can a rookie NHL coach stroll within the door and provides a unique form to Connor McDavid’s recreation? To Leon Draisaitl’s recreation?

These two lead the league in ice time and shift size amongst forwards. What if Woodcroft decides that shaving a couple of seconds off each shift, or a few minutes out of each recreation is the trail to profitable?

Is McDavid open to these sorts of modifications?

“Very open,” the Oilers captain mentioned. “Clearly, one thing wants to vary, and he’s going to come back in and put his contact on the staff. As gamers … that’s what we would like.”

We wrote Thursday that the leaders on this staff must embrace higher defensive play. That if the Oilers are ever going to turn into more durable to play in opposition to — be a staff that makes you earn a Grade-An opportunity, somewhat than hemorrhaging them — that the most effective gamers should lead them in that course. It’s not all on them, however like every little thing else in Edmonton, it begins with them.

McDavid made it clear: No matter it takes, he’s all in.

“We’re all on this collectively,” he mentioned. “I’m unsure why, (however) generally I feel folks overlook that we’re right here to win. We are available each day and we need to win. We haven’t discovered the system but, and that’s all we need to do. No matter system Woody places into place, we’re comfortable to play.”

What does Woodcroft consider the chance to assist McDavid, Draisaitl and a to this point underachieving roster get to the subsequent degree?

“In my expertise, and I feel I am in my seventeenth or 18th 12 months {of professional} teaching at completely different ranges in several job titles,” certified Woodcroft, “my expertise tells me that the most effective gamers on this planet need to be led, and that is what I am right here to do. To try to assist push these gamers ahead.”

So, Oilers fan, right here is your newest head coach. Correction, an interim head coach by way of the tip of this season.

He’s not a family identify, like so a lot of his predecessors. However he’s acquired some fascinating concepts, and he’s contemporary.

What Woodcroft should determine is, will he be teaching to signal a brand new deal this summer time? Or shall be unafraid to interrupt a couple of eggs, whereas creating the omelette this staff has been ready for all these years?

“I’m not going to be anyone however myself,” he promised. “I’m on this place right this moment by being myself.”

Then we’ll want him good luck, as a result of it’s a troublesome gig right here in Edmonton.

Harder than any of his predecessors thought it could be.

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