REPORT: Oilers Interview Todd McLellan

One of the major items on Peter Chiarelli’s to do list is to find an experienced head coach to lead this team out of the perennial basement in which they reside. Well, according to NHL.com, the Edmonton Oilers have interviewed Todd McLellelan for the head coaching position.

One of the biggest critiques the organization has seen is the lack of experience in both management and at the head coaching position. They’ve already added experience to the management team, now to take care of the coach. The Oilers have gone with rookie coaches with the last three changes (Kreuger, Eakins, Nelson) and you would think that Peter Chiarelli will want a guy with more at bats manning the show. Todd McLellan certainly fits that bill…

Per Jonathan Willis on April 21st:

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).

Todd McLellan has spent the past 10 years on NHL benches as both a head coach and assistant coach. To put that in perspective, McLellan was the head coach for Sharks for 868 regular season games, which is more than the last three Oilers coaches combined (Kreuger – 48 games, Eakins – 112 games, Nelson – 42 games). The experience is there, but the problem lies in whether or not the Oilers are holding out for a bigger fish.

If the interview went well, I wonder how long the Oilers would be willing to wait before making a decision. Would they risk losing McLellan for the chance to land the bigger fish in Mike Babcock? Babcock’s contract doesn’t technically end until June 30th. What happens if they get neither guy? I’ve got the feeling that this coaching decision will be made sooner than later, and whoever takes the job will be a solid choice, but for now we wait.

  • socaldave

    Experience is over-rated ………just ask the NDP. We will soon have kids running the province.

    I say stick with Nelson………he has proved to be a worthy candidate albeit in a short period of time. The players love playing for him and MOST importantly he is not Dallas Eakins!

    • socaldave

      They are not the top line, even if they were other teams do not have the ponies like in the NHL, and the ice is huge. This tournament plays to all their strengths and none of their weaknesses.

      Even still, Smith had to come up pretty big to stop a chance created by… you guessed it, a Hall neutral zone giveaway.

      It’s too bad we are not seeing Yak as this is the type of hockey he also excels at. Though it is great watching Lander and Klefbom be a big part of the leadership for Sweden.

      • dougtheslug

        Actually,after a shaky first period today,McClellan broke up all the lines and played Eberle and Hall with Sidney Crosby at center as the top line. They owned the ice. I’m dying to see McDavid between Ebs and Hall. Yum, yum, yum

        • knee deep in it

          Solid observation, I am only getting highlights.

          Man, it’s going to be a long summer. I don’t even want a new season to start, I just want a do over of the last one. Thinking about all the poor decision making, I’m starting to think it’s amazing this team wasn’t dead last. Just imagine if they had traded Schultz and signed Petry to 4 years at 3.8 mill. That is one less big hole they would need to fill over the summer.

          I mean, I don’t want to hindsight too much because… McDavid, but still. The Oilers are loaded with talent, and even though they are not playing NHL competition, this team should not be as bad as their record. Charelli kind of rolled over on not clearing out MacT, but hopefully he makes some meaningful change via buy outs, free agent signings, and trades that don’t give away the young talent they just spent 9 years acquiring.

    • CMG30

      To a large degree, you’re seeing the effects of the incredible depth of team Canada. Having Hall and Eberle to play on the 3rd line? Unreal!

      I’d actually be concerned if they weren’t producing in that position.

      • Randaman

        What if I told you Hall and Eberle were promoted to the top line and playing with Sidney Crosby. You know, since Hall is leading the tournament and scoring and all. So they are still getting a boost from the depth of the team since the team still has insane depth, but they were not getting the soft matchups against Sweden.

        • 5 Cups

          Exactly. Those two can play. The Oilers need to make some adjustments with defence and goal. Could be a scary team very soon. I may have to quit and move back to the yeg

  • dougtheslug

    Todd had a pretty good look at 4 Oilers this afternoon. I’m pretty sure he liked what he saw.

    Hall is a revelation. He is a beast, the best player on the ice. He was clearly struggling during the regular season (likely a combination of injury and acute Eakinsitis), but at this tournament, he is a standout amongst a pretty good group of forwards.

    Eberle has been solid, contributing at both ends of the ice.

    Lander is on the Swedes top line and holding his own. Can you believe MacT and Eakins put him on waivers earlier this year?

    Klefbom is looking solid. A competent dman on his right side and he will be a force.

    I think these four, with McDavid on the way, are selling the Oilers to the world. Todd must be thinking hard about signing on.

    • dougtheslug

      I absolutely can believe that MacT and Eakins put Lander on waivers. No way he gets a call had Eakins stayed as coach.

      Side note: saw Red Army at the Garneau on Sunday afternoon and maybe it was the look or the arrogance but man, did Victor Tikanov remind me of eakins.

  • hagar

    There are more nhl teams than ever looking to change up management and coaching. Serious Gord would have us interview 20 people before hiring someone, but that can’t happen with hot tickets like PC, Maclennan, and babcock. You grab them when they come available, and run with them.

    Sitting on your hands for mass interviews gets you Eakins and torterelli interviews.. no time for that junk.

  • B_Oliver

    Just sign him already. Don’t leave McLellan flapping in the wind like they are doing to poor Nelson. At this point there is so much smoke there must be an inferno somewhere at Oilers HQ. Stay glued to the game this season, competitive hockey to follow. I’m doubting playoffs but the fact they are within reach is exciting. I could see McLellan having some episodes on the bench trying to get a handle on all the young guns during their first tough go but I think Hall and Eb’s respect McLellan and the rest of the dressing room will follow. I expect about 40 wins next season, maybe 37 with like 11 overtime/Shoot out losses :/….

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I don’t think we need to sign McLellan RIGHT NOW. The playoffs aren’t even over. I believe every coach is waiting for Babcock to sign somewhere. The guy’s gonna get a massive payday, deservedly so. This will raise salaries for all coaches.

    Plus, leaving Nelson and McLellan ‘flapping in the wind’ could also be called ‘a thorough interview process.’

    Just saying.

  • knee deep in it

    I wonder if we could do a mcdavid, hall, Eberle line at home where we get the match up we want. They could also be the first line op

    On the roaf, play mcdavid lower in the line with vets and use our top 2 lines for scoring

  • Randaman

    Out of the box thought;

    What if McClellan put Crosby between Hall & Eberle to see what the future could look like with McDavid?

    Too out there?

    As for the Oilers owing Nelson anything, he knows the score and has been paid well so if he stays he stays, if he goes he goes with best wishes from all.

  • Johnnydapunk

    It seems Babcock has the button that if/when he decides to press it, the coaching carousel will begin. I think Detroit mentioned they want to get this sorted out by Mid May as they need to make their plans as well.

    I’m guessing that everyone is waiting for him to make his choice, but personally he is my first choice and then McLellan as I’ve never heard rumours of Babcock losing a room where there were rumours of McLellan losing the Sharks dressi room and the Oil need someone who won’t p*ss about and is respected by all, Babcock is that man.

    Also do think that the Oil should seriously look at Burke for the goalies, if they are gonna step up a level, they need to do it on all fronts and goaltending coaching seems to be an issue also (among other things)

    Btw off topic a bit, but to the fine Oilersnation powers that be, any chance of adding the stats of the Oiler players in the World Championships as from what I’ve watched, Hall and Eberle have been playing really well, and even Hendricks and Lander have been quality.

    I’m also secretly happy that the Oil never did go after Mike Smith as he seems to have really lost whatever ability he had, and he has been the one serious weak point with Team Canada.

    • dougtheslug

      edmontonoilers.com has a page devoted to all the Oilers at the WC. And Cult of Hockey at the Journal does an in-depth analysis of all the Oilers. Worth a look.

    • Randaman

      I thought it was the GM Doug Wilson that lost the dressing room? As far as I’ve seen reports are players loved MacLellan but Wilson made comments that pissed off a few, mainly Joe Thornton. Am I missing something?

  • Oilerz4life

    I don’t think it’s the Oilers holding out on McLellan, so much as McLellan holding out on the Oilers (coach killers). I mean even if the Oilers offered him a job wouldn’t you be a little leary to want to place your career on the line. Not only that but the pressure. He’s coming from a spot where nobody gives a rip about hockey and he can show up for work in his flip flops to “Hi Todd, Craig here (assistant GM), wondering if you would be interested in coaching my boys (the planet core)…hmmm.

  • Anton CP

    Babcock is not 100% sure will leave Detroit, he may change his mind if Red Wings able to offer him a deal that he cannot refuse. At same time that McLellan will leave San Jose for sure and he is showing what he can do with Hall and Ebs makes him a leading candidate as for now. Besides, both Nicholson and Chiarelli must have Babcock on speed dial anyway that they might already have some idea about Babcock’s availability.

    What I am saying is, if Babcock has a big interest to coach the Oilers then Chiarelli and Nicholson must have already known. It is not a surprise if Babcock has not showing a strong interest to coach the Oilers then it is totally reasonable to believe McLellan will be a better choice.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    I think either McLellan or Babcock would make great coaches for the Oil. If I had one choice, it would be McLellan. His PP and PK is way better than that of Babcock’s. I think one thing we can all agree on is that both would be better than Eakins and Kruger. At least Nelson was half decent.

  • Anton CP

    Just so the Oilers won McDavid doesn’t mean that Oilers are suddenly a cup contender…some of you here are clearly delutional to even have this “cup winning” discussions…to be honest, you are the one who encouraged Oilers management to feed you the endless Cool-aid for the last 9 seasons. Can you be real for now and maybe hope Oilers can at least compete for a playoffs spot instead of cup? ONE STEP AT A TIME PEOPLES.

    • SSB1963

      You are right, just because they won the lottery does not suddenly make them a cup contender. But, Getting rid of Lowe and demoting Mac T, bringing in Charelli, promoting Nichols, is a good start. Now if you maybe add Babcock or McLellan, get the franchise in a place where free agents want to play here and guys will move no trade clauses to come here, that’s going the right direction. Maybe this offseason the team picks up Seabrook, Martin, and oh say Eddie Lack or Talbot, that’s starting to look impressive. Oh look, they also grabbed Sodoburg, hmmm, I am starting to believe.

      Pouliot, Nuge, Eberle

      Hall, MCDAVID, Purcell

      Lander, Sodoburg, Yak

      Wagon line

      Martin, Seabrook

      Klefbom, Schulz

      Ference, Fayne

      Talbot, Scrivens.

      This all equals… the cup.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    There are massive changes needed to the roster before we can start talking cups. The forwards are in decent shape, minus a vet center and maybe a gritty winger. Defense is a blasted, post-apocalyptic cityscape, while goal isnt much different.

    If Chiarelli can grab Babcock or McLellan, rework the defense, find a goalie and have us playing meaningful games in the new year, I’d be over the moon, considering what he has to work with right now. This way he has some time to watch the core play under an experienced coach, and possibly increases their value.

    I am expecting one, hopefully two playoff appearances on McDavid’s ELC. When he gets his big raise, Nurse and Klefbom should be ready to log massive minutes on the blue for us, which will go a long way towards contention.

    Of course, this is all assuming Chiarelli doesn’t dynamite the team (minus a few key names) and rework the roster top to bottom.

    • SSB1963

      If he is over a cap barrel this year, fine. I’m not sure the defence is as bad as it looks anyway. Lets not forget Nelson had an AHL roster as everyone was injured during his time on the bench, and Petry was traded. So maybe a better coach can get more out of Nikitin, Ference, and Schultz. Even still they will at least have to replace Petry, or go with Niktin, Schutlz, Fayne on the right.

      Regardless, maybe that defence with a better coach is enough for meaningful games in the new year, given the strength of the forward core, and a better goalie.

      If bare minimum, all they did was resign Roy – again, bare minimum remember – replace Petry with any one of Sekera, Franson, Erhoff, or Seabrook (all right shot guys), and upgraded in goal even with a cheap option like Ramo, this team will be much better under a competent coach like Babcock or McLellan.

      But, given Charelli’s track record, I doubt he is shooting for the bare minimum.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    @Will

    The cap will be the main problem this off-season, I think. Next year, Purcell and Nikitin come off the books and that alone is about $9 mil a year, I believe it is. Coupled with the right trades and subtractions from the roster, Chia could have a decent amount of cap space to throw around next off season. THAT’S when I’ll be expecting playoffs.

    @ville de champignons

    Any other year, I’d agree. But not this year.

    • DonEnrico

      Ya, I forgot to mention that. I am with you there. Also Scrivens and Gordon come off the books, and I would imagine Ference could be bought out by then.

      So again, I do hope he uses the cap room he’s getting this year to add a significant piece or two or three. Goalie, Petry replacement, Sodoburg.

      In that scenario, Sodoburg or Lander could take over for Gordon, Draisaitl could come up on a cheap rookie contract, and the last wing spot on the third line could be fought for by Chase, Pitlick, Yakimov, or Khaira. Heck, maybe one of those guys makes the fourth line as well and upgrades on Klinkhammer. Maybe Gazdic has developed by then and can take over for Klinkhammer.

      Briosiott or O’Conner (fingers crossed) move into the back up role.

      On defence, Klefbom, Nurse, Fayne, and Petry’s replacement (say Erhoff cause I think he could be got for cheap after this year). So then Chiarelli would need to find a top four right side guy if Schultz is not around. And he’d need a bottom pair left side guys if Marincin is traded and Ference gets bought out.

      I wonder if Hobey Baker finalist LaLeggia is that bottom pair left side guy to pair with Fayne?

      Maybe the Petry replacement moves down to second pair, and the Oilers swing for a top pair right side guy to play with either Nurse or Klefbom depending on who has earned top spot by then. Oh look, both Bieksa and Hamhuise are both UFA’s end of next year. So is Braydon Coburn, and of course Brent Seabrook. Hmmmmm. Maybe by then the cap will be up more and the Oilers can afford an 8 mill a year top end right side D man like Seabrook. Nurse/Seabrook, Klefbom/Erhoff, LeLeggia/Fayne. The team would have about two years with that D and forward group to win a cup before they had to start looking at trading assets like Yak, Draisaitl, Lander.

      • A-Mc

        I really dont think Ference will get bought out. I think he’ll retire here. Chiarelli let him go in Boston and the human in me thinks he’ll keep him around this time to finish out his time.

        Ference is a leader on a team with very few leaders. He is an excellent example of what a player needs to do off the ice to take care of himself, his family and the community.

        The $’s on the player might not make a lot of sense, but something tells me the intangibles are enough to keep him around this time; especially with a very young Defense

        • A-Mc

          Yeah, I could see that. Still, 2 more years at 3.25 for a bottom pair D man. I don’t care what kind of intangibles you are bringing. If you can’t be effective anymore, that is a lot of money to put into that position. And honestly, if they bought out his last year, Well then he retires at the age of 37. Not too crazy to think that’s out of the question. I also don’t see it as being cold or anything. A guy like Hamhues or Seabrook won’t come cheap. And that’s the player Edmonton will need. So if it’s between, let Ference retire with dignity, or get Seabrook, well… that’s not a tough decision.

          • A-Mc

            I can get behind what you’re saying and i think if it came down to Buying out Ference vs signing a Defenseman you really need, ference would be let go. But i dont think the team is going to get to that point because there are other areas where we can trim the fat to make room.

            The logical GM thinking cap dictates you get rid of the expensive contract when you can, but the human in me thinks they’ll find a way to keep him.

            Only time will tell! I’d certainly want to see Nikitin shown the door long before a Ference buyout comes to fruition.

          • A-Mc

            I don’t think Ference gets bought out this summer, but I could see it happening next summer. Nikitin’s contract will have run out by then. As will Purcell, Scrivens and Gordon. It’s about 14.3 mill in cap space, but they need to keep some of this year’s and next year’s money off the books as starting next year they will need to begin giving young players big raises: Klefbom, then Yak and Lander, then Drai, then Nurse and McDavid.

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    Quote from Terry Jones’ article yesterday:

    “Todd had some choice words after the first. We just switched on the power. We just flipped on the switch. You have to play hard. And we weren’t doing that at first. After Todd got hold of us in the intermission, we started doing that,” said Eberle.

    WELL I’M SOLD! HIRE THE MAN!