Report: Edmonton Oilers have reached out to Todd McLellan

Todd McLellan2

Todd McLellan, most recently the head coach of the San Jose Sharks, has been out of work for all of a day now. Still, as the saying goes it’s the early bird that gets the head coaching candidate with a distinguished resume, which explains why Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman passed along a report on Monday that the Edmonton Oilers had already reached out to him.

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McLellan has spent a little over two decades in coaching, getting into it upon the completion of a brief playing career that saw him spend significant time in the minor leagues. The No. 104 pick of the New York Islanders in 1986, he would play in only five NHL games. Here’s what his coaching history looks like:

  • 1993-94: Head coach of the North Battleford North Stars (SJHL).
  • 1994-00: Head coach/general manager of the Swift Current Broncos (WHL).
  • 2000-01: Head coach of the Cleveland Lumberjacks (IHL). The Lumberjacks were the IHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild and shut down when the IHL disbanded in 2001. Notable NHL’ers from this team include Pascal Dupuis and Richard Park.
  • 2001-05: Head coach of the Houston Aeros (AHL). McLellan stayed on with the Wild, moving to their new team in the AHL. Notable NHL’ers from this team, include Brent Burns, Mikko Koivu, Zbynek Michalek and Mike Smith. Won the Calder Cup in 2003.
  • 2005-08: Assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings (NHL). Won the Stanley Cup in 2008.
  • 2008-15: Head coach of the San Jose Sharks (NHL).

It’s a pretty impressive track record. He paid his dues in the WHL before advancing to the high minors, where he helped develop a number of important players for the Wild and won a Calder Cup. He worked under Mike Babcock for three years in a very good Detroit organization and picked up a Stanley Cup ring there before taking on his first NHL head coaching job in San Jose. The Sharks have been a very good team under his watch, but have failed to advance to the Stanley Cup Final despite having several strong teams and generally being competitive.

The only blemish on McLellan’s resume is the lack of a championship win as a head coach; otherwise it’s a sparkling record. There’s absolutely no doubt he knows his business, and there are going to be a lot of teams interested in bringing him aboard.

Renney, Tom

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There really isn’t a parallel for McLellan in Oilers’ coaching history, as Edmonton has typically preferred to bring in new faces and allow them to learn on the job. Glen Sather jumped pretty much directly from the Oilers’ lineup to the head coaching position; Craig MacTavish had a brief period as an assistant coach before ascending to the top job. Pat Quinn had an impressive track record, but was well past his prime by the time he joined the club. Tom Renney is the closest match, though (with no disrespect intended) his achievements at the time of his hiring were less impressive than McLellan’s.

Todd Nelson9

If the Oilers pursue McLellan, where would that leave Todd Nelson? It’s a difficult situation for both the team and the coach. Nelson has realistically proven himself ready for a shot at a full-time NHL head coaching job, and his familiarity with Edmonton’s young players is a big mark in his favour. However, he simply hasn’t had the opportunity to compare to McLellan in the experience department, and Edmonton could not be blamed for choosing the safer, more proven candidate.

Successfully wooing a candidate like McLellan might cost the team Nelson. Even if the Oilers tried to bring him back in another capacity—associate coach, perhaps—he will have other options around the league. He has a brilliant AHL track record behind him and experience as an NHL assistant coach; now he can add a fairly successful stint as an interim NHL head coach to his resume. Hypothetically, working under McLellan isn’t going to hurt his status around the NHL any, but there might be better opportunities available right now. He’s knocking on the door for a full-time job and eventually somebody’s going to answer.

With that said, the Oilers have to ruthlessly make the choice that’s best for their organization. The coaching position is going to be one of those tough decisions.


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  • Numenius

    Nelson is the perfect fit for assistant coach, the “nice” one out of the coaches. These players seem to love playing for him, and having him to fall back on after the head coach grills you helps the young players with confidence. If one of the big coaches are unavailable, I would keep him as HC.

    However, I think the big plus no one has talked about if Mclellan is brought in, is that he likely has a lot more power when it comes to the relationship with the GM, he would likely stop MacT making stupid personnel decisions if/when it happens.

    • Oilers Coffey

      What bothers me is the report that Mac T WANTED to bring Roy in earlier in the year, but Eakins squashed it. If anything, that tells me Mac T needs to stop being such a little B and grow a pair. Cause if he can’t stand up to Eakins, what do you think he will do against Hitch or McLellan?

      • Millet Bob

        But there is a large difference between Eakins and Mclellan, wouldn’t you say? From track record I don’t believe MacT is that great by himself, he needs other views and opinions, especially when the one giving those opinions are very

  • Oilers Coffey

    I am not big on McLellan, he had an actual NHL roster in San Jose with bonafied NHL stars and couldn’t get them to the promise land.
    I have a feeling about Todd Nelson and have more faith that he is going to improve and grow with this team!

  • Do what Weight did?

    Some thoughts:

    1. McDavid..? f* yeah!

    2. Whether he’s the guy or not, to neglect to interview/investigate McLellan would be a grossly unacceptable repetition of past mistakes re. Lack of due diligence in the hiring process

    3. Haven’t checked the numbers, but what @Marty said (#79) about TM and the Sharks PP rings true. Success for the Oilers will absolutely required a lethal PP. when big Buff punches an Oiler in the back of the head during the playoffs, if we can’t kick his butt (which all signs point to ‘we cant’), we’ll have to make ’em pay on the PP….

    4. Babcock is the dream – I think that’s the consensus – but beyond that, mgmt would be foolish not to hear what TM, Bylsma (wouldn’t be my pick, but I’d sure as heck talk to him), Hitchcock, and anyone else who shakes loose this postseason have to say. Yes, this includes Nelson, and if he can convince mgmt that he’s got the right vision and the skills to implement, I’m fine with that, as long as he out-competes the competition

    5. I’ve always liked how the Sharks have played during TM’s tenure as HC. Lots of puck pressure, strong forechecking, aggressive style. I think it’d work well for the Oil

    6. Please, please let Bobby Nicholson be the guy making this decision- or at least choosing someone new to make this decision with

  • Millet Bob

    Hitchcock is over-rated. Once Minny ends STL’s playoff run before it starts he’ll be sacked. Why? Because his team under-achieved, probably because they can’t score. Seems everyone is quick to jump McLellan for u-aing while Hitch gets a free pass. He has a ring because the NHL changed the rule a split second before Hull scored. He’d squelch the offense.Totally.
    Carlyle is an a-hole and a dinosaur who can only coach one way. He would rub these guys worse than Aikins. ANA had Pronger & Niedemeyer (sic?) gobbling up 60 min a game.
    I tend to agree Nelson over anybody but Babcock.
    A 2 yr deal while team is developing and see what happens after that.

  • Millet Bob

    Don’t know where this could go so here it is.
    Something the Oilers really, really need to bitch about is the schedule. Minor – can we start at the same time as the rest of the league. Enough of playing our first against the opposition’s 2nd,whom will have worked out some bugs.
    Major – Road trips that go thru Edm, Cgy and Vcr seem to always start in Edm. They then go to Cgy for the back to back and onto Vcr for 3 in 4. We softened up a lot of teams for Cgy, not only this year, but every yr. Vcr caught teams on the second of b2b’s 22 times this yr, more than 1/4 of the season.I doubt if we had 5. Rarely does those trips start in Cgy or Vcr, hence we never get the b2b’s. This is important. BITCH. Long and hard because it’s BS.

  • HockeyYoda

    I think Nelson is great, I really do. For another NHL team or as an assistant coach for now. Now is the time for new direction and smart decisions. A first time / rookie NHL coach is not the route this team needs to take. McDavid won’t change that. We still need 2 dmen and a goalie bare minimum before we become competitive and God help us if a legitimate NHL coach with a plethora of coaching experience isn’t behind the bench.

    I think Nelson has earned his shot. Just for someone else. If Babcock or Byslma signed for 2 years and Todd N. Signed on as an assistant what would be wrong with that? I don’t think Babcock is coming here but I think Byslma would. And as mentioned before his experience matches what we need.

    This is not about liking Nelson or not. This is about righting a ship that is going the wrong way. It’s about starting to make the right decisions now and making Edmonton an attractive destination for all players because of the way the Oilers are run, for how they compete and for the organization’s drive to create and keep a playoff team year after year.

    Interview everyone. Find the right guy. I don’t think that’s Nelson.

      • Millet Bob

        No I don’t per se. Simple observation that when teams come out for the AB/BC trip, they rarely start in Vcr or Cgy and most times they play 3 in 4, ergo Vcr and Cgy get either the 2nd of b2b or the 3rd in 4. My bro tallied this up last year and those 2 teams were getting the best of the deal by far.
        I’ve been looking for a site that has done an analysis of the sched but to no avail.
        I guess I’ll have to do it myself. I’ll report back.

  • Millet Bob

    omg i hate this team so much. His players tuned him out and he never got his team over the hump.

    ya lets get more of that in edmonton, we haven’t had enough of it yet

  • ubermiguel

    Am I the only one that doesn’t want Hitchcock here soley because of residual hate left over from the 90s Dallas Stars? God those teams clutched and grabbed their way to some boring hockey, mostly at the Oilers expense (after ’97).

    • HockeyYoda

      And that fact the game has passed him by…look what he’s doing with STL, they are the new SJ Sharks…wouldn’t want McLellan either, who did nothing in the playoffs all those years with SJ

  • Ryan14

    Randy Carlyle and Dan Bylsma are the only two post-lockout coaches to have have won a Stanley Cup and are currently unemployed.

    Every other available coach would be described as a coach who has failed to get his team over the hump.

    • neojanus

      Fair enough, I just don’t understand how short our collective memory can be. We all just witnessed this organization replace a perfectly good player’s coach with a guy who couldn’t squeeze juice from a lemon, and now we finally have a coach who is getting the most out of these guys… and we want to see if someone else a better fit?

      Sounds insane to me

  • Ryan14

    I always like the idea of giving the underdog a chance to prove himself, in this case I meant Todd Nelson; He’s a proven motivator in the Ahl level for many moons, he never pout when his name wasn’t called upon, he just kept his head down and go by and made the Barons one of the best teams in AHL, only when he was called up to replaced Eakins that his Barons began to slide, mind you, a few of the young guns were also called up as the seasons went on, anyway, we are in no way, pretending that the Oilers will become a serious contender in 2015/2016 season, why not let Nelson have a crack at the head job? Hey, I think he can do it! Why not? He’s good with the kids, he should be able to mould them together in 12 to 18 months, just in time to be a dark horse in the 2016/2017 season….. stay tuned….

  • Anton CP

    Hiring McLellan doesn’t mean that they have to fire Nelson. I think that Nelson may not object to the idea of being associate coach to McLellan if that means he also get to manage McDavid and co.

  • ubermiguel

    Except Todd Nelson, only Dan Bylsma can do something for team. Young like 80% of roster, ambitious, he can find chemistry between guys. Another huge plus – only fool can lose the great opportunity of working with McD
    But Nelson is good too, he proved the right to be an NHL coach

  • Rdubb

    Why go after Mclellan? Seriously, what has he done?
    He has coached a very good SJ team that had top players on it, and yes they won the division and the league, but always faltered come playoff time.
    I think basically any coach who had the likes of big Joe, Patrick Marleau, plus a plethora of other top forwards, top defensive pairings and depth on D and had top goalies should do good. But his teams ALWAYS managed to bungle up their playoff’s. Anyone remember an 8th place team beating them and making it to the cup finals? How many times has that happened to SJ?
    In this fans view and opinion, it could hurt the Oilers to loose Nelson! He has the respect of most of his players, most of his players, including the “core” are all stepping up on his behalf to bring him back. He has coached many of these guys in the farm and now in the NHL.
    Almost to a man this team bought into his system from the get go, which was hard to do considering the Oilers were out of it when he took over.
    He was lacking starters, and even up to 7 of them basically playing an AHL team and finished with a 17-22-5 record (or close to), not bad when you’re missing two of your top 4 forwards, not to mention X number of fill in guys, his goalie’s couldn’t stop a puck on most nights, he didn’t even have an AHL calibre defence. And most of his tenure he was without Hall, Gordon (best face-off man), Pouliote, traded Perron, Petry, played final 5 games with RNH, ext….
    MacT made a huge mistake in signing Eakins, now he better not make another one by letting Nelson go. Too many of his “core” players want him back, and that alone should be enough to keep him, especially when they all excelled when he took over….