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Jay Woodcroft calls coaching Edmonton Oilers ‘a huge responsibility’

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As Jay Woodcroft coached the Edmonton Oilers through the second half of the regular season and into playoffs, he often stressed “keeping the picture small.”

He was consistent with the message Wednesday morning as he spoke about getting a three-year contract extension as the club’s head coach.

“I’m going to say what I would say after a win. I’m going to enjoy this for about the next the 10 minutes or so and then move on to our preparations for next season,” chuckled Woodcroft.

“In all seriousness, it’s a big day for my family. I feel privileged for this opportunity. I’m committed to making good on it. I think it’s a huge responsibility. Everybody in my family is super excited. I’m proud I’m the head coach for such a historic organization like the Edmonton Oilers.”

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Woodcroft made good on his stint behind the bench after he replaced Dave Tippett on Feb. 10. The Oilers went 26-9-3 in their final 38 regular season games and enjoyed a playoff ride to the Western Conference Final.

“Jay’s got a lot of energy, a ton of passion. The team really responded to him,” said president of hockey operations and general manager Ken Holland. “All the players loved working with Jay and what he did for our franchise.”

After taking over mid-season, Woodcroft is looking forward to having a full summer of preparation.

“Once we have a better look at the players that will be available to us come September, we’ll devise, as a coaching staff, a system best suited for our personnel,” said Woodcroft. “I think it’s important to have a finger on the pulse of what’s having success in the NHL today and where the NHL is going.”

Click to play video: 'Best Edmonton Oilers playoff run in 16 years has fans believing team will only get better'
Best Edmonton Oilers playoff run in 16 years has fans believing team will only get better

While Woodcroft is locked up through the 2024/25 season, the rest of the coaching staff is undetermined. Dave Manson came up with Woodcroft from Bakersfield in February. The other assistants are Glen Gulutzan and Brian Wiseman.

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“I’m looking forward to sitting down and getting the thoughts of all the people that you mentioned,” said Woodcroft. “We obviously had a good run to end our year. Looking forward to sitting down and hearing everybody’s thoughts on where they’re at as well.”

Holland said he would like to bring back pending unrestricted free agent Evander Kane, who had 39 points in 43 games. He signed with the Oilers after having his contract terminated by the San Jose Sharks. Kane has filed a grievance against the Sharks. It might not be resolved until after free agency opens on July 13.

“I don’t really have an answer for you because it’s sort of uncharted waters,” said Holland. “I’ve had multiple talks with (Kane’s agent) Dan Milstein.”

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