Elliotte Friedman provided more insight into the Edmonton Oilers’ coaching decision in the most recent episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast, explaining that team CEO Jeff Jackson had been a very big fan of Kris Knoblauch for a while. Friedman also added that the Oilers wanted to make this decision sooner rather than later, in an effort to get the team going for the mid-season, referencing teams like the 2019 St. Louis Blues.
This provides a little more clarity to a coaching decision that came suddenly, albeit not surprisingly. The Oilers are off to an abysmal start to the season, currently ranked second-to-last in the league with a 3-9-1 record. They sit one win ahead of the San Jose Sharks, who have gone 2-12-1 through their first 15 games. They’ll now lean on a rookie NHL head coach in Knoblauch, who most recently led the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack to a 35-26-11 record and a Round 2 playoff loss last season. Knoblauch won two OHL championships in seven years coaching in the league. The first came with a Kootenay Ice team led by Brayden McNabb, Matt Fraser, and Max Reinhart. The second came with the talented 2016-17 Erie Otters roster, which featured Alex Debrincat, Dylan Strome, Anthony Cirelli, and Warren Foegele. Knoblauch also coached Connor McDavid during his three years in juniors – a fact that Friedman said didn’t necessarily weigh into his new role in Edmonton, as the team were fans of Knoblauch separate from that connection.
With the confidence of leadership behind him, Knoblauch could be poised to do something special with an Oilers roster that many expected to shine this season.
More notes from around the league:
- The Carolina Hurricanes have assigned Vasiliy Ponomarev, Domenick Fensore, Griffin Mendel, and Ronan Seeley to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. Each player had been playing elsewhere to start the season, as Chicago officially opted to disconnect themselves from the Hurricanes earlier in the year. But the Wolves currently find them second-to-last in the AHL, repping a 2-6-1 record, and are now in need of reinforcements from their former NHL affiliate. The latter three assignees have started the early season in the ECHL and are earning a promotion with the move to Chicago.
- The New York Rangers have assigned Louis Domingue and Connor Mackey to the AHL lineup. Both players have bounced back and forth between the major and minor leagues, with both getting assigned to the minors on November 10th, recalled on the 11th, and now reassigned on the 13th.