Seattle’s expansion hockey franchise doesn’t have a nickname yet, but it has its first loss. Dave Tippett, a longtime NHL coach brought on 11 months ago as a consultant to hockey operations, was officially hired Monday as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
Speculation in the NHL had Tippett as a strong contender for the coaching job in Seattle, or perhaps a front office position. In a 14-year coaching career that followed a 10-year playing career, Tippett, 57, had a 553-451-28 record with Dallas and Phoenix/Arizona. But since the the puck won’t drop in Seattle until 2021, he seized the moment in Edmonton.
“Dave was always the leading candidate in my mind going through the process, but I wanted to . . . make sure we were hiring the best man possible and I feel very good about that today,” Oilers GM Ken Holland told reporters at a news conference. “I’m big on experience. Dave has coached in the National Hockey League for more than 1,000 games. When you’re in the NHL, there’s always some choppy waters and certainly having someone behind the bench that’s been through those before, it’s a positive.
“Dave’s teams play with structure. He holds his players accountable and he’s a good communicator. Those are really important ingredients in being a head coach today.”
In a media statement, NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said, “As one of our first hires, Dave Tippett has been instrumental in forming the blueprint for our hockey operations in Seattle.
“Coaching is his passion, and this is a great opportunity for Dave to return to the bench. Dave will always be a great friend to our organization. We wish him well in Edmonton.”
The Athletic reported that the deal was for three years at a little less than $3 million per year.
Tippett’s resume figured to be attractive for coaching vacancies, and he didn’t hide his potential interest in coaching again.
“We’ll see, I’m not ruling it out,’’ Tippett told the Seattle Times last year. “It would have to be the right situation.”
The Edmonton Journal reported that Holland and Tippett met for about five hours in San Diego recently, then had a second meeting in western Canada last week.
It’s just an exciting time,” said Tippett, who has never coached in his native Canada. “I think this is going to be a fun ride. I think there’s a lot of upside in this team.
“I’ve been out for a couple of years. It’s time to get going.”
Edmonton finished the regular season at 35-38-9 with 79 points, second fewest in the Western Conference. The Oilers have made the playoffs once in 13 years. They fired coach Ken Hitchcock, the eighth coach in 11 seasons, in early May. He took over for Todd McLellan, fired in November.