from Marty Klinkenberg of the Globe and Mail,
Minutes after the Oilers beat the Flames in Calgary on Thursday night, Jay Woodcroft stood at a podium before an assembly of journalists. It was Edmonton’s greatest moment in 16 years and certainly the high point in Woodcroft’s career as a coach.
When the first question was posed to him about the game, the 45-year-old paused and asked for a moment to speak about something else.
He then began a message to Chris Snow, the Calgary assistant general manager who has battled a rare form of the deadly neurological disease ALS for nearly three years.
“Before I begin, I just want to pass along some well wishes to a friend who is going through something right now,” Woodcroft said. “On behalf of myself, our coaching staff, our players, our organization and for that matter the city of Edmonton, I want to say, ‘Chris, everyone up north is with you in your fight right now.’”
He then went on to congratulate the Flames for having had an excellent season, even though his own team had just dispatched them from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in a surprisingly short five games.
It was something to savour, and surely Woodcroft did, but in the roughly half a season that he has been behind the Oilers’ bench he has shown that he is a different sort.
For one thing, he seemingly enjoys engaging the media. He knows everyone who covers the team and addresses each by first name. On occasion, he includes soft jibes within his prolonged answers and nobody takes offence.