It’s not the same juicy mentor-meets-student situs slot gacor storyline like it was when Todd McLellan, a former Edmonton Oilers head coach, was matching wits and lines with his former assistant Jay Woodcroft in those two Los Angeles-Edmonton playoff series, but Seattle’s bench boss Dave Hakstol and Kris Knoblauch, the new man here, have a history working together in Philadelphia.
The two guys spent two years with the Flyers. Hakstol hired Knoblauch following Knoblauch’s five seasons leading the Erie Otters of the OHL, coaching Connor McDavid and a mixed bag of other future NHLers such as Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Connor Brown, Warren Foegele and Andre Burakovsky.
“I think his mum will be coming to the game and I know she will be cheering for me because she’s a die-hard Oilers fan,” said Knoblauch.
“I’ve got bad news. I had dinner with her last night and, uh, her Oiler fan has jumped ship,” kidded Hakstol, who grew up in Warburg, as did Lindy Ruff, the burg 70 minutes from Edmonton. “She’s cheering for the Kraken tonight.”
“You guys (here) are just getting to know Chuck a little bit,” said Hakstol, tossing out the baseball reference to the other Knoblauch, the one-time New York Yankees second baseman who out of nowhere couldn’t make an accurate throw to first base.
“Chuck was an easy nickname for him in Philly.”
How is this Knoblauch’s arm?
“We haven’t tested that out,” Hakstol said jokingly.
Knoblauch’s coaching brain is just fine, though. His hands will be firmly on the wheel.
“He’s confident in the way he goes about his business. He carries himself that way. He’s really well thought out, he knows what he believes in. He communicates well, in a real calm and direct way. That’s who he is. I believe he’s comfortable in his own skin in that way,” said Hakstol.
“He’s done a nice job in Hartford (after Philly). He’s taken all the necessary steps. There’s no perfect timing as to when the opportunity comes,” he said.
Knoblauch soaked up Hakstol’s traits with the Flyers.
“I learned coaching preparation from Dave, the managing of the staff, the players, the schedule, what kind of practices to have, what kind of information for the players is too much or too little,” said Knoblauch.
The Oilers clearly were hoping goalie Jack Campbell would find his game on the farm and return in fairly short order after they sent him to Bakersfield, but he’s in a far deeper funk than he was here. He has given up a staggering 13 goals on 72 shots over three AHL starts, and he’s far from a recall.
Young farm team goaltender Olivier Rodrigue had been playing well (61 saves in 63 shots over his two starts this season, and 209 of 218 over seven games, going back to last season in partnership with Calvin Pickard (now up with the Oilers) and he sat. As we know, Rodrigue’s dad Sylvain is the long-time AHL team’s goalie coach. His job is to get Campbell’s game back on track.
Entering play Wednesday, Pickard had not played since his call-up. The Oilers have been riding Stuart Skinner, who was scheduled to play his fifth straight against Seattle. The Oilers kick off a four-game road trip in Tampa on Saturday afternoon, then there’s a day off between later road tilts in Florida, Carolina and Washington, so Skinner could play every game. Eventually, the Oilers will have to give Pickard a start, unless they trade for another veteran NHL goalie (very tough with their cap situation).
HOLDING HIS BREATH
Former Oilers winger Jordan Eberle, who had a very scary moment when Kraken teammate Jaden Schwartz’s skate accidentally sliced Eberle’s quad 10 days ago in a Seattle practice at Colorado, was back for the game against his former club. Eberle was rushed to hospital with a deep cut, the fear of a possible ruptured tendon, but he escaped that.
“I dodged a bullet. I was worried about the tendon,” said Eberle, who entered play Wednesday having played 953 career NHL games. “I know a lot of guys are wearing Kevlar (legs) but you can find places (where you’re not protected). That’s a spot where a few guys have been cut. I’ve made some changes to my gear because of that.”
“Those things happen really quick,” said Hakstol. “We were fortunate and so was he. It could have been much worse and a different outcome for him. We’re fortunate he’s mended pretty quickly. The doctors took all the right precautions. Those are the things that lead to a building being pretty quiet and pretty empty, even coming out of a practice.”
MOVING LOCKER SEATS
With Knoblauch’s arrival, he has changed where players sit in the dressing room in concert with Paul Coffey. Now, the defencemen are all on the right side as you walk in and the forwards on the left and middle. Woodcroft had them interspersed. Not saying one is better than the other, just a seating chart flow change.
“We want players communicating and we want the defenceman together talking about their plays. We want Ek (Mattias Ekholm) sitting beside Bouch (Evan Bouchard) so they can about situations on the ice. Same with the forwards. It’s communication driven (with players and with coaches),” said Knoblauch.
THIS ‘N’ THAT
Connor Brown (suspected groin issue) has been skating but he isn’t ready so he missed his seventh straight game. He remains at nine games on the season and when he plays his 10th, the $3.225 million games played bonus will kick in for next season on the cap … Dylan Holloway (a possible knee injury after sliding into the boards Monday against the New York Islanders) and Mattias Janmark (shoulder) have been put on long-term injury, which means they have to sit out a minimum of 10 games and 24 days. Janmark’s returning timeframe is retroactive to Oct. 26 when he was injured in a game against the Rangers. Holloway, who had a very strong game in Seattle last weekend and was effective before he fell Monday, has been hard-hit by medical issues. “He’s out week to week,” said Knoblauch. Holloway needed two wrist surgeries coming out of college, then missed a month last season with a shoulder injury in Bakersfield, now that freak thing when he tumbled into the boards … The Oilers brought back forwards Raphael Lavoie (loaned for cap reasons) and Adam Erne from the Bakersfield farm after Tuesday’s Condors’ loss in Calgary. They will play on the fourth line with fellow AHL call-up James Hamblin. They also summoned defenceman Philip Broberg but he didn’t play because Knoblauch didn’t go 11 and 7. This was a fiscal move, as much as anything. The PuckPedia site says the Oilers likely called up Broberg first in order to use his performance bonuses in the LTI pool. They captured $35,000 in LTI cap space. Then adding Holloway and Janmark to long-term injury Wednesday and calling up Erne and Lavoie, they now have $275K in LTI cap space. Lavoie didn’t play for the Condors on Tuesday, even though he only had to go to Calgary for the game. There is a possibility the Oilers could send Broberg back to the farm to get him 20 minutes a game of AHL work when they go on their four-game sojourn and maybe bring up older defenceman Ben Gleason, who had a strong camp, instead. “We will be taking seven defencemen on the road trip,” said Knoblauch … Knoblauch started his coaching career in 2006 in Prince Albert as an assistant coach after one final pro season with the Austin Ice Bats. He knew he was never going to be an NHLer, even though he loved the game. “Not good enough. Smart, defensive-minded, didn’t get around the ice very well,” said the self-deprecating Knoblauch, who played one junior season for the Edmonton Ice.