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.

  • THRNHJE

    I’ve been worried that we may lose our shot at MacLellan waiting for our chance at Babcock, but with all the teams looking for a coach in the off-season, and Maclellan definitely towards the top of the list for those available, I think it is in Maclellan’s best interests monetarily to wait for Babcock to sign as a precedence to him getting likely close to a million more than he would otherwise.

    Some team is going to pay Babcock A LOT of money, and Maclellan will be next in line.

    P.S. I am the king of run-on sentences.

  • A-Mc

    I’m not too concerned with the timing in waiting for Babcock because McLellan is coaching at the worlds. Had McLellan been at home twiddling his thumbs, i would be more nervous about it.

    By next week we’ll know more about Babcock and likely what the Oilers want to do.

  • ubermiguel

    It would be nice to see them announce this hiring before Babcock’s situation in Detroit is concluded. TM’s a great coach and it would be a nice gesture on Chiarelli’s part to let him know that he’s the guy that Edmonton wants.

  • A-Mc

    Also, before any McLellan job offer would be extended, i would think PC and the rest of the management would want ot see how the Oilers (Hall and Ebs) handle his coaching. They may also ask their input before giving the final OK. This means nothing will get done until Canada is out of the tournament.

  • OilMan31

    I’ve said this before but Maclellan is the coach I want for the Oilers. I understand the love for Babcock and would be elated to have him as coach as well. In my mind as long as we get one of these 2 it’s another major positive to add to this off season so far.

  • MLH

    Cannot afford to wait on a decision from Mike Babcock besides, with Ken Holland on record saying that Detroit still want Mike Babcock to stay there that is where he will likely stay, all those waiting for the big guy will kick themselves for not acting sooner, go after TM asap, he will be a great fit for the Oil.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Isn’t Babcock considered a defense first coach, as in play solid D, wait for turn-overs to strike back?

    Or depend on a heavy forecheck to produce turn-overs?

    I don’t know, but if I am right about Babcock, he certainly will not be fit in Edmonton.

    I agree with #1 D comments, Sharks amongst top teams in recent memory, but no Cup. Perhaps this just a player issue, and has not much to do with coaching.

    All I know is we have a GM who has won the Cup as a GM, and hoping to get a coach that has won the Cup as a coach

    • A-Mc

      Babcock’s strengths have always been his ability to figure out player currency, what drives them, and his ability to push them to succeed.

      The systems he employs with the Red Wings may not be a fit for the Oilers, but that does not matter. He’ll coach the team to their strengths and push them to succeed.

    • A-Mc

      I don’t believe forechecking can only be done if you have size. I believe it’s more of having a will to do so at all times. You don’t see Chicago throwing huge hits in the corners.
      And the defence comment, no coach you bring in will win with the d core we have right now. That has to improve. Babcock is proven to win and I don’t see why he wouldn’t work in edm, if he elects to come here.

  • OilMan31

    The more i think about the more i like the idea of Mclellan as our head coach. Watching team Canada play they seem to respond extremely well to him (granted that team is absolutely stacked). His demeanor behind the bench and his constant interaction with the players (i.e the anti-Eakins) has me picturing him behind our bench next season. While Babcock may be the whale everyone is hunting the best coach for this team might be right in front of us.

    • CMG30

      Sure. But visited the finals twice, and have kept making the playoffs with an aging core. Detroit’s younger players are good but I would take Couture, Pavelski and company over them.

      Did I mention he also has two Olympic gold medals?

      • pkam

        The Sharks have a much talented roster than the Wings, but McLellan failed to lead them to the playoff while Babcock almost lead the team to the 2nd round of playoff.

        I have predicted the Wings to miss the playoff for 2 years in a row and I believe the only reason they are still making it is Babcock.
        Can Mclellan lead this Wings team to the playoff? I really doubt it if he can’t lead this Sharks team to playoff.

  • A-Mc

    I like Babcock because the man finds way to win with whatever team he is given, and he believes in a solid system of development. He would bring that philosophy to a group of kids that don’t know how to win.

    I like McLellan because of what he is doing with hall and Eberle at the worlds right now. He has tons of experience, and even though he lost the room in San Jose, he certainly had it for a lot of years. It will be interesting to hear what Eberle and Hall have to say about the guy.

    Also, Lander and Klefbom played a great game against a team that looks a lot more like an Olympic squad than just a world’s team.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Agreed JDh10, just finished watching the Canada-Sweden game.

    I have never seen Hall and Eberle back/fore check like they did today…

    Could it be the Mclellan influence? If so, give the man a job TODAY!

  • mithaman

    As much as I would love it, I don’t see Babcock joining the Oilers.

    He’s likely going to stay in Detroit, but if he doesn’t, I can imagine he’d rather go to an established contender like STL (who is likely to fire Hitchcock). I could also see the Ducks canning Boudreau if they see another early exit.

    If McLennan is the guy for the job let’s get er done. Hopefully Nicholson can work some backdoor connection to get Babcock’s thoughts before he pulls the trigger.

  • CMG30

    Babcock, McLellan… To my mind they’re 1A and 1B coaches. Not enough daylight between them to really make a difference.

    Personally I think there’s a better than average chance Babcock stays in Detroit and teams waiting for his services are likely going to be disappointed. McLellan OTOH, may not be available by the time the Oilers can seriously pursue Babcock.

    If the Oilers are satisfied with McLellan then strike while the iron is hot and offer him the job. If he declines then keep it quiet and wait on the Babcock train with a mail car full of cash and see if you can pry him loose.

    Momentum breeds momentum. If Edmonton can keep these dominoes falling then they’ll keep stoking the buzz about the team. This makes it easier to sell the free agents on coming to Edmonton which is what this team needs most of all: good quality vets.

    • Rob...

      It wouldn’t be smart for McLellan to entertain offers until after Babcock signs. Babcock will go first, and the salary he ‘settles’ for will likely raise the ceiling for coaches.

      The Oilers are doing it right though, by showing interest in McLellan. This will ensure he doesn’t feel like the Oilers are using him as a backup plan.

  • oilslick

    I think that Todd is our guy, and I think waiting around for Babcock is a mistake. Get Mclellan hired and then you can start thinking about what to do about the defense and between the goal posts via trades or free agency.

  • Leef O'Golin

    I like what Mclellan has done at the other side of the pond with Hall. I get that he hasn’t brought a stanley cup to San Jose but sometimes what coach needs is a change in scenery. Take a look at Paul Maurice. Or Bruce. Some coaches work well in different places

  • Spiel

    But what does he know anything about winning? He has never been part of the Oilers organization, so he must not know much about winning. Hire someone who has played or coached for the Oilers – they’ll know something about winning.

  • Anton CP

    For those who concerned about McLellan failed to deliver a Cup to San Jose, I would have to say that you guys are thinking too far ahead of yourself. Let’s just have Oilers to be a playoffs contender then we can talk about the Cup. One step of the time.

  • sportsjunkie007

    If the Oilers are serious about going after Babcock, they’ll definitely get to him before June 30. I’m sure that Detroit would give permission for a meeting for the price of a late round draft pick (worth it).

  • 5 Cups

    McLellan seems like a great option to me, but if Babcock leave detroit you should at least talk with him to.

    Whats funny is everyone craps on our younger players saying they are ruined. McLellan sure seems to think Hall and Eberle are alright.

    Its funny what a bit more of a team can do. Hall at the top of the pack in the tourney and ebs not to far behind. I realize that there some really good players missing from the tourney, but the guys there are not slouches either.

  • Hemmercules

    I think playoff coaching is a bit overrated. It’s more about players rising to the occasion. Of course line matching and motivation plays a part but in the end but I don’t think a cup defines a coach. Experience, wins and playoff appearances are all that matter. I’m more than happy with McLellan, don’t let him get away waiting for Babcock.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Either man Babckock (proven, experienced #1 Coach with a stellar record) or McLellan (Proven, experienced coach with a very good record) would be great for this team. McL is a little more offensive, Bab is a little more defensive.

    I will never forget the 2006 cup run when The Oilers played Babcock’s Red Wings. The UWings were probably a better team, but MacT out-coached Babcock. During those 6 games MacT was the better coach.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for MacT. I think he should test the free-agent market for TV analysts. Could get Sportsnet bidding against TSN. Go for it MacT!

  • A coach is only as good as the team put in front of him. San Jose never won but they were very consistent and competitive for many years. I’d bet my money the Oil will make him an offer sooner than later.

  • socaldave

    IMO, because of potential tampering charges the Oil could get for talking to Babcock prior to him and Detroit deciding whats next or his contract being until end of June, I understand the waiting game to figure out who is next to coach.

    While Babcock may be the top favorite I like the idea very much of McCellan with Nelson added as associate, and… may be Ramsay and likely one of McCellan’s other assistants from San Jose.

    But at the same time, McClellan is available and he is putting together a great run at the WC. There are four forward lines and defence pairings playing very good hockey right now and these are players of excellent quality and stardom.

    IMO, I think the Oil will hire McClellan very soon…just got that gut feeling. Especially if Team Canada now gets a silver or gold medal.

    What I also like is how Hall and Ebs are playing as well…and I love how Hendricks, Klefbom and Lander are playing very well too

  • socaldave

    Nicholson, McDavid, Chiarieli, McLellan or Babcock and a few more positions of need filled to start the season—-It’s just like Christmas for all the faithful fans. Great times on the horizon.

  • socaldave

    Don’t jump to quick

    If it’s the playoffs you’re looking for, he might just be the dude.

    If it’s the Cup you’re looking for……he’s got a long string of failures behind the Sharks bench.

    • Just a Fan

      There are a number of cases where a coach has taken the team to the edge of winning a cup and not been able to get it done. I am more than happy if the Oilers need 2 coaches on the road to Stanley. One to get them close and another to get them over the top.

      It is my opinion that San Jose should have changes coaches a few years ago (right about the time Jumbo started looking like he wanted to win).