The Oilers rumour mill is firing up already with word coming out of the Twitter machine from TSN’s Dean Millard that assistant coach Jim Johnson could be the one to get the boot from the coaching staff. Of course, this is only speculation at this point and there’s no guarantee that this is going to happen, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to talk about it anyway.
Received a DM from a former NHL executive today who told me McLellan has already made his choice and the guy who runs the PK is the sacrificial lamb, so that would be Jim Johnson. We'll have to wait and see. We'll chat about this tonight on #SportsNight on @TSN1260 #Oilers.
— Dean Millard (@DuckMillard) April 13, 2018
According to TSN 1260’s Dean Millard, a former NHL exec slipped into his DMs and tipped him off on a potential change that we might see coming to the Oilers’ coaching staff. Jim Johnson, penalty kill planner extraordinaire and man that looks like he’s angrily looking for a taxi, was the guy tasked with running a penalty kill that finished 25th overall after spending most of the season in the league’s basement. There were months when an Oilers PK meant a sure goal against was on its way and Johnson was the mastermind behind it all. The weird part, of course, was how the Oilers finished first overall in PK% on the road (86.7%) and dead last by a country mile (65.8%) at home, but that’s a story for another day. My point is that getting rid of the guy that was tasked with managing that bizarre mess wouldn’t exactly be all that surprising.
Jim Johnson, as I’m sure you all remember, was part of the package deal that came with Todd McLellan’s coaching tripod back when they were hired in May of 2015. Before coming to Edmonton, Johnson was a part of McLellan’s coaching staff in San Jose starting in 2012-13 and before that he was an assistant coaching in Washington. He was an experienced guy but maybe not a popular guy. According to a source I spoke to (yes, for real), Johnson wasn’t the easiest guy to work with because he’s an old school, drill sergeant kind of coach whose personality didn’t really mesh well with this group. To put it another way, if this is true and Johnson is the one to go then I don’t think there were will be too many players that are going to be upset about it. Combine what I heard with what Dean Millard is hearing and all of a sudden you’ve got some smoke building under ol’ Jimmy’s chair.
Of course this is just a rumour and you never know what will happen with this franchise we inexplicably love, but I wouldn’t exactly be surprised to see Todd McLellan come back but some of the assistant coaches changing. In Mark Spector’s article over at Sportsnet, he talks about Nicholson not necessarily wanting to fire McLellan but instead looking at changing an assistant or two. Then again, in that same article, he also talks about some members of the Old Boys Club that don’t think McLellan is the man and are trying to make changes happen after what Spector called a “Red Wine Summit.” Needless to say, the circus that is the Edmonton Oilers is only getting started and whether or not Johnson kicks off the festivities is yet to be seen.
All I know for sure is that it’s going to be an interesting summer in Edmonton. Buckle up.
Source: Dean Millard, TSN 1260, 4/12/2018 – 8:28 pm MST