Oilers Fire McLellan & Hire Ken Hitchcock

By Ben Hamill - November 25 2018
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Oilers Fire McLellan & Hire Ken Hitchcock

Canada’s Edmonton Oilers, who went into their most recent game in San Jose having lost six of their seven past starts, have now fired their head coach Todd McLellan. NHL bench manager Ken Hitchcock has also been elected in McLellan’s place, according to news reports.

The Oilers hired 51-year-old McLellan in May of 2015 after he had spent seven seasons serving as the head coach of the Sharks. The latter team are currently atop the Pacific at 11-7-3, under the leadership of Peter De Boer.

Commenting on the timing of the coaching changes, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli noted in an interview that the process is not cut and dry. He saw ‘levels of flatness’ and non-response in the team, adding that when that starts to happen, the radar automatically goes up. The Canadian team decided to make the changes needed to maintain its strength, feeling that a new voice and a new point of view would be helpful in getting them back to their former glory.

Stanley Cup Play-offs Lost Twice

At the time of his firing, McLellan was acting in his fourth season with the team, who have missed the playoffs for the Stanley Cup twice in the last three years. They are also sixth in the Pacific Division so far this season, holding a 9-10-1 mark. They unfortunately lost in the second round in 2017 after a 47-win and 103-point regular ice hockey season.

Speaking about the situation, Oilers captain Connor McDavid added that it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what they need at this point. However, he believes that everyone is to blame in the matter, saying that the team’s failures are ‘not on Todd at all’. McDavid says that it is actually on the team’s players, and that they have to wake up in order to keep abreast of the business’s current direction.

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McDavid Third in League Scoring

Hailing from Melville, Saskatchewan, McLellan posted a 123-119-24 regular season mark with the Edmonton group after posting 311-163-66 in San Jose, where he took the Sharks into six play-off events and a total of three division titles as well. He has been the fourth coach to have been ousted in 2018, following Los Angeles’ John Stevens, Chicago’s Joe Quenneville, and St Louis’ Mike Yeo, who was fired following his team’s recent 2-0 loss to the Kings.

The former Oilers head coach, who is apparently owed over $3 million for this season and the next, was the team’s sixth HC since Craig McTavish was given the pink slip at the close of the 2008/9 campaign. Before him came the likes of Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins, and Todd Nelson.

On a more positive note, iconic center McDavid has just come off back-to-back scoring titles in the NHL, and is now third in league-scoring so far this season. Currently, he has 12 goals and 28 points in no less than 20 games to his name.

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