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Struggling Edmonton Oilers fire head coach Dave Tippett

After a good start, team now sits 5 points out of a wild-card playoff spot
Edmonton Oilers’ head coach Dave Tippett is honoured for his 600th win while taking on the Calgary Flames during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Ken Holland had a change of heart.

With the Edmonton Oilers mired in a five-game losing skid (including two in overtime) and a stretch that saw them lose 11-of-13 games in January, Holland dismissed suggestions head coach Dave Tippett was on the hot seat.

“I don’t believe in it,” Holland said at the time about making a mid-season coaching change.

On Thursday the Oilers fired Tippett and associate coach Jim Playfair.

Jay Woodcroft, the head coach of the Bakersfield Condors _ Edmonton’s AHL affiliate _ will coach the Oilers for the remainder of the season.

Woodcroft will be joined by assistant coach Dave Manson.

The Oilers resume their season Friday night, hosting the New York Islanders.

After beginning the season 16-5-0, the Oilers went 7-13-3 and dropped down the standings.

Edmonton (23-18-3) stands fifth in the NHL’s Pacific Division, five points out of a wild-card spot.

The Oilers have lost their last two games, including a 4-1 decision Wednesday to the Chicago Blackhawks.

In nearly 25 years as a hockey executive, the 66-year-old Holland had never made a mid-season coaching change until Thursday.

Tippett, 60, was named Oilers coach in May 2019, three weeks after Holland was hired as GM and president of hockey operations. Tippett received a three-year contract.

The Oilers had fired coach Todd McLellan in November 2018 after a 9-10-1 start. Ken Hitchcock coached the team for the final 62 games of the season.

Under Tippett’s watch, the Oilers never performed better than making it to the first round of the playoffs despite a roster that features superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Both Draisaitl (2020) and McDavid (2021) won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s MVP with Tippett at the helm.

Over the span of McDavid’s seven-season NHL career, Tippett is the fourth coach he’s seen come and go.

Tippett coached the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes from 2009-10 through 2016-17. He earned the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in his first season.

He arrived in Edmonton with a record of 553-413-120 with 28 ties in 14 seasons with the Coyotes and Dallas Stars, whom he coached for six seasons.

Before joining the Oilers, Tippett was a senior adviser with the Seattle Kraken.

Tippett collected 262 points (93 goals, 169 assists) in 721 games over 11 NHL seasons as a forward with Hartford, Washington, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

He started his coaching career as a player-assistant coach with Houston of the International Hockey League in 1994-95.

—The Canadian Press

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