On Friday, the NHL announced the coaching staff for Team North America:
The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL®) announced today the appointment of Team North America’s Assistant Coaches: Jay Woodcroft (Edmonton Oilers), Jon Cooper (Tampa Bay Lightning), Peter DeBoer (San Jose Sharks) and Dave Tippett (Arizona Coyotes). The four assistant coaches will report to Team North America General Manager Peter Chiarelli (Edmonton Oilers), Associate General Manager Stan Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks) and Head Coach Todd McLellan (Edmonton Oilers).
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan was asked about the decision to include assistant coach Jay Woodcroft on his staff.
“Woody and I have been together for a long, long time. I have a comfort in having Jay around for a lot of reasons. One, he keeps me organized. He’s a workaholic, gets a lot of work done. He understands my language and where I might be going with my thoughts and how to put things together. Technically, he can gather a lot of information. I think he’s as sharp a coach as there is out there right now,” McLellan began.
“He doesn’t quite get the recognition because of his path to the NHL but we’re very lucky to have him, not only with that World Cup team but also here in Edmonton.”
The head man for the Oilers also talked about the rest of the staff, which includes some accomplished head coaches from around the NHL.
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“A lot of experience. International experience. Coaches who have been around young players for awhile. I look at Tip (Dave Tippett) last night with (Anthony) Duclair, (Max) Domi, growing (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson. Jon Cooper in Tampa. Peter DeBoer in San Jose, he’s worked with young players in the past in Florida and New Jersey. San Jose is a bit of an older team now.
“The comfort of working with those people that I’ve been involved with in the past. We’re excited about it. There’s some teams there that have to win and our job is to go in and upset and stir the pot a little bit, see where we end up.”
Woodcroft talked about the honour of being named to the coaching staff at the tournament.
“It’s going to be a great learning experience for me, great experience for my family in my hometown of Toronto. Huge honour to have been asked to join such a prestigious coaching staff. I’m really looking forward to working with all the coaches and all the management,” he said.
The 39-year-old has worked with McLellan since 2005 when he was the video coach and McLellan the assistant for the Detroit Red Wings. McLellan then added Woodcroft to his staff as an assistant when he became head coach of the San Jose Sharks in 2008.
“I think we both have strengths. Having worked together for so long, there’s a chemistry with how we approach preparation. I think we see the game very similarly but we’re not afraid to challenge each other with new ideas.”
Woodcroft and McLellan also worked together last spring at the World Hockey Championships, helping lead Canada to a Gold Medal and undefeated record at the tournament.
“Having worked together in the past, not only in the NHL — Detroit, San Jose and now Edmonton — but internationally, there’s a comfort level with preparing a group to succeed.”
The Oilers assistant talked further about how that World Championships experience helped prepare him for the challenge that awaits next fall.
“It helped me because it was my first time on an international level. So the ability to work with players from different teams and quickly get your point across, quickly get everybody on the same page was a huge challenge. And I think Todd did a masterful job of bringing the entire group together: the coaching staff, the management group and also the players. And that’s why we ultimately had success.”