Edmonton Oilers’ exec Craig MacTavish leaving organization to coach in Russia

Craig MacTavish will be leaving the Edmonton Oilers organization to coach in the KHL. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Former Edmonton Oilers player and coach Craig MacTavish will be the new head coach of KHL Lokomotiv, the team announced in a tweet Thursday morning.

MacTavish has signed a two-year contract with the Russian team.

“I look forward to the start of my cooperation with Lokomotiv and personally Mr. Yakovlev [Yuri Yakovlev, Lokomotiv president],” MacTavish said in a release. “In the past few years, I have often been to Russia, watched KHL matches and was interested in coaching here. I hope the upcoming season will be exciting and successful for our team.”

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“For our club, it was extremely important that Craig shares a strategy based on the wide involvement of his students,” Yakovlev said. “He is well aware of many young players from the Lokomotiv system and will help them make a new career step.”

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MacTavish was the eighth Oilers coach, heading the team from June 2000 to the end of the 2008-09 season.

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Before coaching, he was a part of what’s known as the Oilers’ glory days, playing centre with other legends Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. He has four Stanley Cups — three with the Oilers and the other with the New York Rangers.

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In 2012, he was named to a senior management position in the Oilers Entertainment Group. His title has changed a few times, but he is currently the vice president of hockey operations.

Over the last two years, MacTavish has ran Edmonton’s AHL affiliate team the Bakersfield Condors.

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While in charge of the Condors, the team performed exceptionally well, jumping to the top of the AHL’s Western Division standings.

The Oilers have not commented on MacTavish’s move as of publishing.

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