The Edmonton Oilers have hired Todd McLellan as their new head coach. The club officially introduced him on Tuesday after news escaped Monday that the former San Jose Sharks bench boss would be the new man in the former City of Champions.
McLellan is the official replacement for Todd Nelson, who took over from Dallas Eakins 31 games into the 2014-2015 season. McLellan will be the seventh coach of the Oilers in eight seasons. He was 311-163-66 over the past seven seasons with the Sharks and coached the club to six straight playoff berths before missing the boat this season.
McLellan also coached Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship and will hope to turn the sinking ship that is the Oilers around. If nothing else, he has to hope he can throw a life jacket in the water. Okay, that’s enough with the nautical analogies.
The point is that he has the pedigree to be the guy for Edmonton.
“Todd was at the top of my list for a number of reasons,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I thought the fit was right with our personnel. I thought the fit was right with the way I manage, and in this business when you want to get a top coach, you have to act quickly…I made it an effort that he was a guy we were going to go after and we were going to go after hard.”
For McLellan, he has a lot to look forward to with the Oilers. There’s the challenge aspect, for one, with Edmonton not having made the post-season since losing in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. This season, the Oilers finished 28th overall. They won the draft lottery again and will have the opportunity to select some kid named Connor McDavid, who’s supposed to be kind of a big deal. Oh, and Chiarelli’s the new general manager.
“If you were a coach out of work and was considering a position to land in, everybody had an eyeball on where Connor was going to end up, of course,” said McLellan. “He wasn’t the only factor that came into play. There were so many other factors that I had to consider…The other part was made by the Oilers organization, and the way it turned out, I was really excited about it.”
The most immediate job on the list is to decide on some assistants. McLellan is expected to have Jay Woodcroft, his former assistant coach in San Jose, join him in Edmonton. He’ll also be meeting with Nelson and his assistants to carve something out.