When the Tulsa Oilers hired Jason Christie as the 11th head coach in team history (post-1992), they got a number of perks in the deal. In addition to being a proven winner and developer of top talent one thing stood out as being unique.
He was on the cusp of making ECHL history in becoming the winningest coach. He was just nine wins away from the title when the puck dropped on the Oilers 2015-16 ECHL season. Winnign nine games would push him over the top and would pass John Marks for the title.
John Marks set the bar at 491 wins with four different teams in the ECHL spanning nearly 20 years, winning two ECHL championships with two different teams (Charlotte and Greenville).
It was expected in the best case scenario that Christie would pass Marks somewhere near the middle of November. It took about two weeks longer for Christie to pull even with Marks with a 4-1 win over Utah on December 3rd, and on December 10th he eclipsed Marks when the Oilers defeated the Idaho Steelheads 4-2 at home in the BOK Center.
After the game Jason Christie downplayed the accomplishment, giving credit to the players he coached along the way that helped him attain the top honor.
“It’s a lot of players,” he began, “They’re the ones out there doing the work with a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Hats go off to all the great guys I coached in the past. It’s good that it’s over, job’s in hand now.”
For his victory the Oilers staff and players presented Christie with a signed commemorative third jersey with the number showing “492”
Three nights later Christie’s Oilers gave him his 493rd victory by defeating the Missouri Mavericks 4-3, ending the Mavericks 14-game win streak.
A native of Gibbons, Alberta, Christie has been a head coach for 13 seasons in the ECHL and CHL. Prior to the 2015-16 ECHL campaign, he boasted a career coaching record of 520-304-105 (.616 winning percentage) and has led his teams to a total of 11 postseason appearances. He spent the last four seasons as the head coach of the Ontario Reign when they were members of the ECHL and in that time his team won no less than 43 wins each year. Last season Christie guided the Reign to a 43-19-10 regular season record and a berth in the Western Conference Finals where they nearly dethroned the eventual ECHL champion Allen Americans.
In 2010-11 he coached the Bloomington Prairie Thunder of the CHL to 37 wins and their first playoff berth, and in doing so earned the CHL’s coach of the year honors.
Prior to entering the coaching ranks Christie played 572 games over a 10-year career with eight teams in the AHL, ECHL, IHL, and in England.
Photos: Greg Duke, Tulsa Today