Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Oilers fire Todd McLellan, hire Ken Hitchcock

Initially reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Edmonton Oilers have fired Todd McLellan and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock.

Edmonton is 26th in the NHL with a record of 9-10-1 and have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games.

The Oilers tweeted confirmation of the news not long after Dreger’s report and he is expected behind the bench as the team faces San Jose tonight.

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An Edmonton-native, Hitchcock will be coming out of retirement to join the team. Dreger said his position will be re-evaluated at season’s end.

He is the eighth person to coach the team in the last decade.

He comes to Edmonton as the third-winningest coach in NHL history, while McLellan departs with a record of 123-119-24. Hitchcock was working as a consultant with the Dallas Stars, who according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, was granted permission by the team to speak with Edmonton.

Vultures have so to speak circled McLellan for the better part of this season as his inability to extract wins out of the roster has come back to bite him. The firing comes after the Oilers blew leads against the Calgary Flames, and Vegas Golden Knights.

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The 66-year old Hitchcock, who won a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, is well-known as one of the most respected coaches in NHL history having spent time behind the bench for the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, the Dallas Stars and most notably, the St. Louis Blues.

The truth behind this coaching swap is that Peter Chiarelli’s leash as the Oilers general manager just became shorter. Firing a coach is often the so-called last straw for GM’s in what is often a saving grace move.

While McLellan, in my opinion, could’ve done more with what he has had in the past three years, Chiarelli has constructed a poor roster and will pay for it with his job should this team not reach the playoffs.

McLellan still had this year and next on his contract that was paying him $3-million a year.

Peter Chiarelli will address the media at 11 A.M. MST.

On Twitter: @zjlaing

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  • Bringer_Of_Snow

    The thing I don’t like about this is you know Chia did it just to save his job. Buy himself some time. He should have been the first to go. This is a move just to trick the fans that they are actively trying to improve

    • Glencontrolurstik

      You may be right. However it took a ton of persuasion to get Hitch out of retirement… I know, the one thing that brought him back was the challenge & the opportunity to coach the best player in the world. He, combined with Yawney will whip this defense into shape… I’m excited.
      Technically, this is Ken’s second run with the Oiler organization as he was the first coach of the Kamloops Blazers in the mid 80’s. Taking the Kamloops Oilers over from Bill LaForge, to go on to win a Mem Cup. Before that, he won an Air Canada Cup in North Bay, with the Sherwood Park Midgets…
      I think that latter team was 36 – 0 with a .6 goals against average. Welcome Home Ken…

    • tealyn

      If Chia was a real man he would admit that he is pretty clueless and that his trades have mainly been duds and downgrades and he would see himself out, but Chia isn’t a real man and he will keep collecting his paycheck until he is shown the door. Working for the fans is the last thing on his mind right now, this has been an ongoing problem for this organization, the fans don’t come first. Katz paycheck comes first, then his ego(he keeps hiring old boys to make himself feel better) then his employees egos, and somewhere at the bottom of the pile of turtles are the ticket paying fans.

  • jdubs

    Sh*t is about to get old school around here for the next 62 games….haha! It’s like your parents are leaving for the summer and the ol’ uncle is going to stay with you for the summer….you’re scared….AND you also have a loose tooth….the ol Uncle tells you to sit on the toilet as he ties a string to your tooth and the doorhandle….haha….it’s gonna be an interesting rest of the season!!!!

  • Heschultzhescores

    How about we give Hitch a chance and maybe support him for the remainder of the year. He is coming into a hellfire that is not for the faint of heart. I give the man huge credit for that.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I will tell you this much, if Hitch see Benning being a tire fire, he will tell Benning why he is being a tire fire and staple his ass to the bench and then put his ass in the press box to see think about it and have Benning and the coaches work on Bennings game in practice. There wont be any oh the player can figure out whats wrong, Hitch will tell you what is wrong.

  • FanBoy

    Thank you Todd for everything you’ve done for the community and representing us well outside the rink. Thanks for also being the best coach we’ve had since MacT.

    • SSB1963

      I guess with Hitch we get a guy who got Modano to buy into the Defense first mantra. Worked out ok with him so maybe it will work here too? Here’s to hoping.

  • vetinari

    Happy to see McLellan arrive but also happy to see a meaningful change… I just wish they would have started at the top with Chiarelli as most people would question his asset management, particularly with trades and signings. This is probably the last ditch attempt at saving the season before the GM goes.

    • gordo

      chia aint the top; there’s a whole layer of ineptitude starting with nicholson, the gretzky brothers, lowe, mact, howson, coffey, the katz regime is the job centre for the old boys

    • tealyn

      this is just the oilers throwing away the rest of the season to avoid firing Chia, It seems the egos down at the oilers braintrust are putting their feelings before their salary paying fans. Oh well, we have seen old 6 rings tell us fans that we are bottom tier fans. This looks more like some people are trying to milk this team until its all dried up, Katz’ head is so far up his ass he thinks that buying retired veterans will do something.

  • Boba The Fett

    A few things….

    1. This is a short term stop gap until end of season.
    2. At end of season it allows management to properly search for a coach. Also allows potentially new mgmt to hire their own coach.
    3. Hitch has a proven record so nobody can complain about us hiring someone unproven.
    4. Hitch has a proven track record in short instances as he is known for a having a shelf life. Makes him a good short term option.
    5. Hitch is a hard ass that believes in structure and discipline, something everyone can agree has been lacking as of late.
    6. This is not a long term solution so lets not everyone panic, if Hitch can turn this around for this year and instill some solid work ethic in this team then maybe we can all be happy. But please lets not start complaining about Hitch out of the gate after complaining about Todd, give him a chance at least to turn this around.
    7. If Hitch fails then 90% Chia is gone and everyone gets their wish.
    8. This shows either Coach Q said no or ownership did not give permission to go after a big ticket coach with Todd still on the books for next year. I am leaning toward Q saying no.

    • the dope $teez

      Bingo, short term move to tide over the fans and it allows some breathing room to find a suitable replacement. If the Oilers manage to turn things around, maybe Hitch comes out of retirement on a 1-year deal, but at the very least they can adequately assess the team and actually separate all the sissies from the guys who want to be here.

      If they continue to do poorly, nobody in their right mind can blame Hitch, so at least the players got a half year of some piss and vinegar. Then in all likelihood Chia pete gets fired and they start rebuild 6.0…. or is it 7.0 now?

  • Spaceman Spiff

    I don’t know how long Ken Hitchcock will be around Edmonton for, but fun time is over. If the Oilers keep losing, it’s not going to be any fun being on that team.

    If you were to measure him on metrics like “personality” and “compassion” and “holding players accountable,” Hitch definitely falls towards the “Scotty Bowman” end of the meter. This will be an eye-opening experience for this team.

    There are several players on this team that have too inconsistent and unresponsive for far too long. Hitch is NOT a “players coach.” He’s cod-liver-oil in a suit. Playoffs or not, this will be interesting to watch.

  • foureyedmike

    Through the 10-year 8-coach Oilers saga, I feel for Ralph Krueger, and probably most of all… Todd Nelson. Those guys deserved to stick around.

    Hiring Hitch seems like a move to pull a 180 and save the season.

  • Bills Bills

    Hahahahahahaha……. Who’s trashing who???

    Sorry had to do it as I got slaughtered yesterday for saying the Oilers should find the next Hitchcock. I am not sure if Ken is the right choice. His last few teams didn’t fair that well but we shall see. BTW anyone who thinks CMD will have his offence choked out of him, obviously never saw Mike Modano kick the crap out of the Oilers.

    • crabman

      great players will still be great players and I don’t doubt McDavid will still be a dynamic offensive player. I didn’t mean I think he will become a checking plug but style of play could change. Teams that plays the trap and is more of a stop the other team then try and win with the occasional counter attack when a mistake is made can still have a player like McDavid get his points and still be a boring team to watch the other 58 minutes a game when they aren’t attacking. Again I hope I am wrong and all he does is tighten up the team defence while still giving the teams best players the ability to play a more run and gun game. That style is working for the top line it’s the rest of the team that needs the help.