Jay Woodcroft said the Edmonton Oilers aren’t happy with simply making it to the Western Conference final this season.
“For us, we are driven to take the next step, ask ourselves difficult questions, be open to finding answers to try and push ourselves forward,” the Oilers manager said Wednesday.
Woodcroft’s contract as Edmonton manager has been extended throughout the 2024-25 season Tuesday. The 45-year-old, who took over after Dave Tippett was sacked on February 10, went 26-9-3 to help the Oilers move from six points from a Stanley Cup playoff spot to second place in the Pacific Division (49 – 27-6).
But the message on Wednesday was that more work needs to be done and it needs to start now.
“For me, this starts with discipline with our summer time,” Woodcroft said, “making sure we do the work necessary to feel good by going to boot camp, preparing to lay the groundwork in boot camp that will prepare us for the success on a 82 match schedule. For me, I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work in September because I really believe that’s where a lot of money can be made.
“We are digging to try to improve every day, not accidentally but intentionally.”
The Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings in seven games in the first round and eliminated the Calgary Flames in five games in the second before being overwhelmed by the Colorado Avalanche in the final of the conference. He marked Edmonton’s last stop in the postseason since 2006, when he lost the Stanley Cup final to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.
“Both Ken [Holland, Oilers general manager] and I’ve had some really good exit matches, good feedback from our players, “Woodcroft said.” The people in our organization, in this year’s release, had a taste of playing deep in the playoffs, playing hockey. in June. But I don’t think anyone is satisfied with this. We understand that there will be a lot of work that will be needed to be able to have the season we want next year. “
Woodcroft said he will speak with assistants Dave Manson, Glen Gulutzan and Brian Wiseman over the next few days regarding contract extensions.
Woodcroft was promoted to his first job in the NHL from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League, where he had been the head coach of the Oilers’ top development team from 2018-22.
After taking over from Edmonton, the Oilers had a 0.724 point percentage from February 11 through the end of the regular season, tied with the Flames for second place NHL that halftime, behind the Florida Panthers (.757 ). Edmonton also improved its goal differential under Woodcroft, going from 3.18 goals per game (12th in NHL) and 3.32 goals per game (equal to 23rd place) before his arrival to 3.82 goals per game. (fifth) and 2.76 goals per game (fifth tied).
Holland said the mission was simple when Woodcroft got involved: to take the Oilers to the playoffs.
“No. 1, Jay delivered,” Holland said. “He came in and made the necessary decisions and the team responded and played at a high level. Speaking with the players in the exit matches, everyone believes in his direction of him. Everyone believes in his leadership and in his communication. . “
Holland said he began his 1-on-1 dialogue with Woodcroft regarding a contract extension on June 14 before a deal was reached on Tuesday.
“It’s a big day for the Oilers,” he said. “Jay did an incredible job once he took over leading our team to the playoffs and … we played at a high level the last half of the season and obviously he took us to the last four. I’m thrilled that we have succeeded. to find a solution to engage Jay and look forward to working with Jay over the next three years to build on what we’ve accomplished.
“Jay has a lot of energy and a lot of passion.”
Woodcroft said Holland’s message upon his arrival was of great help.
“For me at the time … I felt it was really liberating because it only allowed decisions to be made with that direction in mind and I thought the team had done well,” he said. “I mentioned at the time how humbled and privileged I feel to be the head coach of such a proud organization and that is certainly how I feel today. I want to thank the organization for believing in me.”