Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett is ready to get back on the bench, but like everyone else in the NHL, he doesn’t know when that will happen.
“It almost feels like the year there was a lockout. You feel like you’re a doctor on call. You’re just waiting for that call to come,” Tippett said.
Tippett coached the Oilers to a 37-25-9 record in the shortened regular season. The post-season tournament won’t start before late July at the earliest, leaving Tippett a lot of time to prepare for the training camp that will lead into the playoffs.
“Preparation is going to be key. You’re going to go from a pause to 100 miles an hour in a hurry,” said Tippett. “We talked to our players quite a bit on how we’d like to arrange a camp. We’re still pretty generic with timelines and things like that.
“We have some veteran players who understand what it takes when you get in the playoffs and how hard it’s going to be. We also have some young legs coming out of a break who should be ready to go.”
Tippett said unlike a normal training camp, he won’t be sifting through a lot of players to see where they belong.
“You know who you have. You know where most of the parts fit,” said Tippett. “Training camp will be to see if there’s a player or two who can jump up.”
The NHL’s Return to Play plan has the Oilers matched up with the Chicago Blackhawks in a best-of-five qualifying round. The Oilers were 1-2-0 against the Hawks this season.
“We’ve talked to our players and our coaches a lot about us preparing our team and making sure we’re ready before we look at anybody else,” said Tippett. “You look at Chicago, the thing that jumps out at you is the championship pedigree that they have.”
Tippett has coached 1,259 games in the NHL, combining regular season and playoffs. All joking about his time in Arizona aside, he’s never coached in a building without fans. When the NHL does restart, it will likely be in empty arenas.
“I don’t know if you really know how it’s going to be until you get in the situation,” said Tippett, who figures the absence of crowd noise will make it easier for him to get messages to players.
“There will be probably less screaming on the bench.”
Tippett is currently in Minnesota about three-and-a-half hours north of Minneapolis. He said he plans on coming to Edmonton “in the next little bit.
“I want to get in. If I have to quarantine for 14 days, I’ll do that, and make sure I’m ready to go when the players start showing up.”