TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Oilers have a new head coach.
On Wednesday afternoon, Oilers General Manager Taylor Hall announced the hiring of former Alaska Aces head coach Rob Murray as the teams new head coach to a small crowd of press and fans in the lobby of the BOK Center.
Murray is Hall’s third head coach since he became the Oilers GM in 2008 and the second in three years.
Murray takes over from Jason Christie, who left the team after his contract expired at the end of the regular season, and accepted the head coach position with the Jacksonville IceMen Tuesday.
Murray wasn’t present for the event, as he hasn’t yet made the move to Tulsa, but he introduced himself via a brief video presentation played during the press conference. He detailed his NHL and AHL playing experience and 14-year coaching credentials, including the Kelly Cup Championship the Aces won in 2014.
Of his new head coach, Hall was gratuitous with his praise.
“We’re super excited about this announcement,” Hall said, “With us being able to bring Rob on board he gives us an important piece of the puzzle because the head coach and director of hockey operations is the one who recruits the players and it’s his responsibility to put us in the best position to win hockey games.
“He played in the NHL,” Hall continued, “he played in the American Hockey League, he’s worked with numerous affiliations in the NHL over the years and he’s won an ECHL championship fairly recently so the timing was absolutely impeccable for us to be able to get a guy like Rob.”
Hall divulged that Murray reached out to him for the opportunity to come coach the Oilers once Christie stepped down, something he attributes to the Aces visit to Tulsa last December.
“Once the vacancy was announced Rob actually reached out to us.” Hall said, “you may remember that the Aces visited Tulsa last season for their one and only time and I think seeing the BOK Center, seeing the fans support of the team and the city of Tulsa, I think he was very impressed.
It was also revealed by Hall that the team’s affiliation with the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose is at it’s end.
“Winnipeg is definitely out,” Hall said, “we had a year-to-year deal and that was renewable and it worked out that it wasn’t going to be, and that’s fine. I think that another affiliation or possibly multiple affiliations might be in the cards. The nice thing is that there are 31 NHL teams and 27 ECHL teams so the possibilities are there, it’s just a lot of logistics that have to take place and in the end that’s Rob’s call.”
Rob Murray is the ninth official head coach hired by the team since the Tulsa Oilers returned in 1992 to the Central Hockey League. Preceding Murray in order are Garry Unger, Ric Seiling, Shaun Clouston, Bruce Garber, Butch Kaebel, Dan Hodge, Bruce Ramsay and Jason Christie. Interim head coaches have included Larry MacIntyre, Hall and Tony Martino.
Only one coach has led to the team to a championship in any league the Oilers have played in, and that was 25 years ago when Garry Unger led the Oilers to the Central Hockey League title in 1993.
Ramsay and Christie are the only head coaches the team has had thus far in the ECHL.