With the Edmonton Oilers hiring Dave Tippett on Tuesday, forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is set to play for his seventh different head coach in his ninth NHL season this fall.
The 26-year-old, who is now playing under his fifth general manager in Ken Holland, admitted to the Edmonton Sun that he has begun to grow used to change within the organization.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “But I’ve seen so much change over the years that... I’m not saying I’m numb to it by any sense, but I’m almost used to it now. I take it in stride a lot better that I used to.”
The Oilers have made the playoffs just once in the past 13 years, reaching the second round in 2017 under head coach Todd McLellan, who was fired 20 games into this season.
“If I told you at this point that I wasn’t frustrated to a certain extent, you wouldn’t believe me,” Nugent-Hopkins continued. “There have been too many changes every year. But what can you do? When you don’t have success as a team, changes happen. We want to get to a point where we’re in contention and we have consistency with the players and coaches and all the staff.
“I want to be in the playoffs every year, in contention and on a good team every year. I feel like we’ve been so close so many years but we haven’t been able to take whatever step was needed to make that jump.”
The 2011 first-round pick had a career year this season, posting 28 goals and 69 points in 82 games. He said Tuesday he's optimistic for the future under Holland and Tippett but said the team's success will ultimately come down to the players.
“They’re experienced guys,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It’s exciting when you get new guys like that coming in.
“But, at the end of the day, it comes down to the players going out there and playing. If we don’t do our job, that’s when thing start to change. We want to get to a point where we are consistent and everything else falls into place from there.”