New Oilers coach Dave Tippett embraces 'unique opportunity'

The Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday announced that Dave Tippett has been hired as their eighth coach in 12 seasons, the team announced just ahead of a scheduled introductory news conference.

Tippett, 57, previously has coached the Stars and Coyotes. The Saskatchewan native becomes new general manager Ken Holland’s first major hire, as Edmonton completes a housecleaning that began with the firing of coach Todd McLellan and GM Peter Chiarelli during the 2018-19 season in which the team finished 35-38-9 and second-to-last in the Western Conference. It marked the 12th time in the past 13 seasons that Edmonton has failed to qualify for the playoffs.

“This was a unique opportunity. It’s a first-class organization with passionate fans,” Tippett said at his introductory news conference. “There was a lot of things that came together. When Ken reached out, I looked at it hard and it was a great opportunity. That’s why I’m here.”

If nothing else, Tippett brings a track record of reaching the postseason: His teams made the  playoffs in eight of his first nine seasons as an NHL head coach, though the Coyotes didn’t in his last five seasons in Arizona.

In 14 seasons as a head coach, Tippett is 553-413-28 (.563), though he is only 33-41-0 (.446) in the playoffs. His Stars team reached the West finals in 2008 before bowing to the Red Wings and the Coyotes lost to the Kings in the 2012 conference finals, the furthest any of his teams has advanced.

“Dave brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. … He is a great communicator and has consistently led teams known for their level of compete,” said Holland, who flew back from the NHL Draft combine in Buffalo for the introduction. “I look forward to seeing Dave guide the Oilers this fall.”

Tippett takes over an Oilers team that features two of the top young players in the NHL in two-time Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the only player to score 50 goals and have 100 points in 2018-19. That’s a far cry from Tippett’s most recent stint with the Coyotes (2009-17) when he led a team that frequently was hamstrung by ownership upheaval and a tight budget.

Job one for Tippett will be finding a better balance of defense with offense. The Oilers scored 2.79 goals per game, 20th in the NHL, but allowed 3.30, tied for sixth-worst in the league.

Per, which initially reported the hiring Tuesday morning: “Many of the Oilers’ problems have stemmed from defending … an area that has traditionally been Tippett’s stock in trade. Holland’s job will be to find Tippett more depth players who can chip in some offense, so McDavid and Draisaitl don’t have to carry the team night in and night out. And, of course, a goaltender to go along with Mikko Koskinen.”