The Edmonton Oilers hired Rocky Thompson as an assistant coach today. Thompson has been an assistant coach under the tutelage of Todd Nelson in Oklahoma City, where the Oilers have been developing their young talent. As a coach with the Barons, Thompson has seen lots of success. The program the team in Oklahoma have been growing is starting to see some results. The Oilers think highly enough of him that Dallas Eakins has brought him on board.
Some may ask the natural question; why isn’t Nelson getting promoted? Nelson is looking to stay put for now. He knows the program he is building is bearing fruit at long last, and isn’t jumping ship quite yet. The Carolina Hurricanes expressed interest in him, but it never went any further. Thompson has a long history with the Oilers. He was signed as a UFA in 2003, but then ended up playing for the Edmonton Roadrunners. He went on to be a part of the St. Louis Blues organization, but his NHL playing career never caught fire.
Maybe that’s because Calgary drafted him. (*wink*)
Players and critics have had nothing but good things to say about Thompson since he started developing as a coach. Eakins clearly saw enough from him in his first year as head coach to make him a part of the big club. Steve Smith and Kelly Buchburger are gone, as it should be. They were the maestros for the bad music we’ve been force fed since the first year the Oilers finished last. Craig Ramsay will join Thompson and Eakins behind the bench. Ramsay will bring experience and knowledge. Eakins will bring the culture and the systems. Thompson knows the players, knows the teams needs and will be instrumental as a connection to the Barons.
Edmonton still needs a centerman, but otherwise, as fans, we ought to be happy with the direction the club is heading.