Oilers fire head coach Jay Woodcroft after abysmal start to season

The Edmonton Oilers are making a change behind the bench.

The Edmonton Oilers are the first team to make a coaching change this season.

After snapping a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Seattle Kraken on Saturday night, the Oilers relieved head coach Jay Woodcroft and assistant coach Dave Manson of their duties.

The Edmonton Oilers have fired head coach Jay Woodcroft (Getty)
The Edmonton Oilers have fired head coach Jay Woodcroft (Getty)

Kris Knolbauch, the head coach of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack since the 2019-20 season, has been named the new head coach. Knolbauch previously coached Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters.

Legendary Oilers defenseman Paul Coffey, who has been working as a Senior Advisor with the club over the last two years, will join Knolbauch behind the bench as an assistant.

Edmonton currently sit 31st in the league with a 3-9-1 record.

While coaches are hired to be fired, it’s hard to pin Edmonton's horrid start squarely on Woodcroft.

Edmonton’s kryptonite this season has been their goaltending duo of Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell, who have combined for a league-worst .864 save percentage. That stat is all the more alarming considering how strong Edmonton’s possession numbers have been during five-on-five play — with the Oilers ranking first in expected goals-for percentage (57.8) and second in Corsi-for percentage (57.9). Their power play — the NHL’s best over the previous three seasons — actually hasn’t even been that bad this year, either, as they rank ninth in power play percentage (23.9 percent).

16 months after signing him to a five-year, $25-million deal, the Oilers waived Jack Campbell on Tuesday. Campbell is one of the league's worst goalies this year, sporting an abysmal .873 save percentage. Statistically speaking, Stuart Skinner has been even worst, with an .861 save percentage and league-worst -7.8 Goals Saved Above Expected, according to

Connor McDavid, with 10 points in 11 games, hasn’t been himself either as of late. However, a lot of that dates back to when he was injured after a collision with Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey on Oct 21. Since returning, McDavid, who missed two games, has recorded just two points in six games.

Woodcroft joins Dave Tippett, Ken Hitchcock and Todd McLellan as the fourth Oilers coach to be fired in the McDavid era.