Oilers: Todd McLellan Out, Ken Hitchcock In as New Head Coach

Add another name to the November firing line, as the Edmonton Oilers have canned head coach Todd McLellan.

They’ve already named a replacement and it’s none other than Ken Hitchcock.

Hitchcock will be behind the bench Tuesday when the Oilers face off against the San Jose Sharks.

The move is not unexpected, but it does highlight what has been a dismal month for head coaches in the NHL.

McLellan joins Mike Yeo, Joel Quenneville and John Stevens as coaches released from their positions in November of this year.

In McLellan’s case, his Oilers dropped six of their last seven games – including a poor showing against the Calgary Flames over the weekend.

In 266 games with the Oilers, McLellan posted a 123-119-24 record. He was never quite able to click with the roster, despite having some serious star power.

McLellan was brought over from the San Jose Sharks in May of 2015. It was expected that he would live up to his billing, having led the Sharks to three division titles and six playoff appearance.

But in Edmonton, McLellan wasn’t able to transform the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl into consistent playoff contenders and the team floundered. Under his watch, the Oilers made the post-season once in 2016-2017.

This season, it was (or is) looking like more of the same.

Hitchcock announced his retirement from the coaching game after a stint in Dallas with the Stars that concluded in 2017-2018.

But retired life didn’t take and the Oilers will offer a fresh challenge. Hitchcock has coached 1,536 NHL games with the Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and St. Louis Blues. He is third among coaches all-time in wins with 823, just 67 behind Quenneville, and won a Cup with the Stars in the late 1990s.

Whether his style is right for the Oilers remains to be seen, of course, but perhaps Edmonton sees something in his experience.

The team didn’t make any other front office changes Tuesday. General manager Peter Chiarelli is safe for now, say a number of reports, and there is every reason to believe that the Oilers are hoping this one change will make all the difference in the world. Minor roster fiddling aside, it’s hard to imagine Edmonton parting with any significant members of the group at this juncture.

But if Hitch and the Oilers miss the post-season again, all bets are off.

Published by Dr. Pucksworth

Doctor of Puckanomics.

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