NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reveals the real reason the Oilers fired Jay Woodcroft
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NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reveals the real reason the Oilers fired Jay Woodcroft

Friedman with the inside scoop from Oilers' management.



In case you've been living under a rock the past 24 hours, the Edmonton Oilers unceremoniously dumped head coach Jay Woodcroft and replaced him with former OHL, WHL and AHL head coach Kris Knoblauch.

Knoblauch, if you didn't know, was Oilers' captain Connor McDavid's head coach during McDavid's junior career with the OHL's Erie Otters. So, while you think McDavid might be excited to have a coach that he has some history and a familiarity with, his reaction at practice today and his words don't seem to reflect that assumption.

While it wasn't particularly shocking that the Oilers fired Woodcroft, there is some sense around the NHL that GM Ken Holland should have shouldered more of the blame for his team's failings so far this season. Technically, Woodcroft is the winningest coach in Oilers history and there are many fans and analysts who feel that he was NOT the team's problem. Far from it, actually. In fact, Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reports that this change doesn't have much to do with Woodcroft's ability, but rather Holland and team President Jeff Jackson simply HAD to make a change and Woodcroft just ended up drawing the shortest straw.

From Friedman's latest 32 Thoughts podcast for Sportsnet:

"I will say this until I am blue in the face, this coaching change was not about Jay Woodcroft, it was not. This coaching change was about Edmonton cannot afford a disastrous season, so what are we going to do to try to change things."

"I think at the end of the day Jeff Jackson made this call. The fact that it was Kris Knoblauch that says to me it was Jackson's call. I don't think the players overthrew Jay Woodcroft, I don't buy that."

- Elliotte Friedman

Meanwhile, TSN Oilers insider Ryan Rishaug reports that McDavid was "shell shocked" to learn the news of Woodcroft's firing yesterday.

"McDavid looked pretty shell shocked today. Said he woke up to a text message like everyone else yesterday, that he didn't know it was coming. Similar sense from Draisaitl. Both said this is on the players, not the coaches."

- Ryan Rishaug

When asked by reporters earlier today for Woodcroft's firing, McDavid didn't mince words. He said he was shocked to hear the news and found out via text message. When asked if he and his teammates had tuned out Woodcroft and his messaging, McDavid said, "Not at all. I don't think. He never lost the room."

"He never lost the room... so, I'm not sure. I woke up to a text... I know the narrative out there obviously, but it couldn't be further from the truth.

- Connor McDavid

What's even more concerning though is that Sportsnet insider Jeff Marek reports that McDavid is "legitimately pissed" at the situation in Edmonton.

From Marek on the latest 32 Thoughts podcast from Sportsnet:

"He is legitimately pissed off, he's had it, and he's like legit pissed"

- Jeff Marek

McDavid's assessment of his new/old coach after practice today shouldn't really inspire confidence in Oilers fans either. Check out what McDavid had to saw about Knoblauch following practice this morning:

"It's been a really long time. Obviously thought he was great in junior, I don't know what he's been up to other than he's been coaching obviously in the NHL as an assistant, and in the American league."

"He's a young voice, which is great I think it resonates with a lot of guys in this room."

- Connor McDavid

Yikes... if I'm an Oilers fan I'm very, very, veeeeery nervous right now.

Unless the Oilers can catch fire under Knoblauch between now and the NHL trade deadline, there's got to be some serious concern for McDavid's future in Edmonton. The captain looks completely disillusioned with the decisions being made by management and ownership.

Source: Elliotte Friedman