Dave Tippett has been fired as Edmonton Oilers coach, and the team has replaced him with Jay Woodcroft, who had been coaching their American Hockey League affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors.
The shakeup came Thursday, following back-to-back losses against Vegas and Chicago by a combined score of 8-1.
Tippett had been behind the Oilers' bench since May 2019, after spending nearly two years out of coaching. He becomes the seventh NHL coach fired this season, and the second in just 48 hours after Dominique Ducharme was replaced in Montreal on Wednesday.
The veteran coach had been on the hot seat in Edmonton for weeks. After getting off to a great start, the Oilers began to skid late in the fall, going just 5-12-3 since Dec. 3. He leaves Edmonton with a 95-62-14 record, and two first-round playoff exits.
Before deciding to move on from Tippett, Oilers management was willing to make moves in an effort to improve Edmonton's prospects. General manager Ken Holland went out and signed embattled forward Evander Kane to a one-year deal in January with the hopes he'd boost the Oilers' flagging offence and offer some help to superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
It hasn't been enough, and there's a real chance Edmonton could miss the postseason. The Oilers are currently sixth in the Pacific Division, five points back of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. That would be a damaging blow for the Oilers, who were swept in the playoffs last season by Winnipeg.
"`At the end of the day, I built the team,'' Holland said. "I take full responsibility with where we are at.''
Tippett is now the fourth Oilers coach to come and go since McDavid was drafted first overall in 2015, and Woodcroft will be Edmonton's eighth coach to step in since 2010.
Holland had said he doesn't want to move Edmonton's first-round pick before the NHL's March 21 trade deadline just to bring in a rental player, and the Oilers already have two of the league's best scorers in McDavid and Draisaitl. Woodcroft will bring fresh eyes, and a fresh voice, to a reeling organization.
Woodcroft, 45, was previously an assistant coach under Todd McLellan with San Jose in 2008, and then rejoined him again as an assistant on Edmonton's staff in 2015. He has been in Bakersfield since 2018, and is now poised to take on his first NHL head-coaching gig.
"My gut instincts are that Jay is ready,'' Holland said. "He's ready to be behind the bench in the National Hockey League.''