EDMONTON, Alta. – New Oilers assistant coach Mark Stuart is ready to share his 13 years of professional experience with the next generation of NHL players.
The 38-year-old man was announced as the latest addition to head coach Jay Woodcroft’s staff tuesday. Stuart is coming off a long professional career where he played 673 NHL games, split between the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets – including 23 games for the Atlanta Thrashers before their move to Manitoba.
After finishing his hockey career with the Mannheim Eagles in Germany, Stuart turned to coaching to stay close to the game. The former NHL defenseman is ready to return to the highest level of hockey.
“This is an amazing opportunity, I’m thrilled to join this organization and this staff,” Stuart said on Oilers Now on 630 CHED with Cam Moon. “I’ve known a few people over the years, but I’ve only heard good things about a lot of people in the organization. I feel very lucky right now and can’t wait to get started.”
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The Oilers had announced the majority of its coaching staff back on July 7, but there was still work to be done to replace the departing Brian Wiseman. Stuart, who had coached as an assistant at Colorado College, discovered the Oilers’ interest a few weeks ago.
“I got the call from Jay and it built momentum from there. I didn’t know what direction he wanted to go in to get this job, but as soon as I got that first phone call, it was exciting,” Stuart said. “I was going to jump on it and do my best to seize the opportunity. Now it’s about making the transition, but my family is looking forward to getting out there and settling in and starting with the team.”
There was already some familiarity with Stuart within the organization. The coach had worked with Jay Woodcroft’s brother, Todd, at the University of Vermont prior to his role at Colorado College. The past two years in Vermont and Colorado have been instrumental in Stuart’s development for his current role.
“I learned a lot under Todd and Kris Mayotte in Colorado,” Stuart said. “Todd is someone I played with in Winnipeg and we got to know each other really well there. He’s a lot like Jay who’s been in the game for a long time and has worn a bunch of different hats. He was huge that year that I spent with him and Vermont and we keep in touch and we exchange ideas.”
As Stuart’s time as an NHL player drew to a close, he began to focus on training as a way to stay in the game. Stuart admits that in his later years as an active player, he was much more in tune with how his coaches taught the game to help prepare him for life after hockey.
“You can kind of see the end coming, over the last three or four years it was something that I took a lot more seriously and I had to open my ears and my eyes while I was still playing “said Stuart. “I was able to take a few opportunities coming back from Germany and got into it. I’m glad I did. I was lucky not to have to spend a lot of time away from the game.”
As a coach, you spend a lot of your time dissecting your own team. However, that doesn’t mean Stuart wasn’t able to pay attention to what would end up being his current employer.
“I watched a lot of their games of course. I ran the defense and the power play in college at Colorado, you’re always trying to learn from NHL game trends and how things are going. We showed a lot of Edmonton Oilers clips to our players,” Stuart said. “Knowing a bit about Jay, I know how he likes to work. He’s extremely thorough. I think that’s the most exciting part for me, working with this staff, this roster and two of the best players in the world.”