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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.

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.

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

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Boba The Fett

      GM’s are almost never fired mid season as it is impossible to do a proper GM search in the middle of a season. Many times teams will look to assistant GM’s of other teams as replacements and no team is going to let go of their assistant GM in the middle of a season.

    • Chris Prongers Rake

      The team isn’t a disaster, that’s like saying “You’re an idiot” based on your comment. The team has shown they can win when they want to work, now its on players.

      • Hemmercules

        Capped out, bottom of the league, horrible starting goaltender, not enough NHL defensemen or wingers, overpays all over the roster, 1 playoff run in 12 years with MULTIPLE top ten draft picks. The Oilers are a disaster, don’t fool yourself. Hitch might squeeze a few wins out but I don’t see this ending without multiple firings this summer.

  • crabman

    I commented yesterday that hiring Hitchcock would suck the offense and creativity out of McDavid not just the other team.
    I don’t think hiring a guy that has made his career from coaching his team to play boring, stingy, defensive trap hockey is the way to go in todays fast paced NHL and to me seems like a move a GM makes when he knows he didn’t give the coach enough talent to keep up. I like the firing of McLellan but don’t like his replacement and don’t think he is the answer.
    I have never wanted to be proven wrong, about anything hockey related, before in my life.

    • puckle-head

      I agree. the one thing I’d say in Hitchcock’s defense is that he did seem to genuinely try and adapt to the new fast-paced NHL while in St Louis. Not sure if he is the right guy for the job now, but I think it’s possible this is just an interim thing.

    • jesse says yep

      Hitch has always been a brilliant hockey mind and I doubt that he is unable to use that knowledge and apply it to today’s game. We shall see though. He did manage to coach a semi offensive minded team in St Lois though, so there is that. This was more of a shot across the bow of the players than a change in tactics I would think. With only having a contract umtil the end of this season, Hitch can hopefully convince the younger guys how to play sound hockey, being the better players for it.

  • 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.

  • puckle-head

    The best part? That means Chia’s coach firing move has been used and he’s next on the chopping block. I would be okay extending this losing streak if it means getting Chia out of here quicker.

    • Serious Gord

      so if the team is out of the playoffs do you let chia remain as GM past the trade deadline? Do you really want him making moves then? And if you don’t who is available that time of year?

      (what a mess…)

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Hitch would be a perfect transition to GM in the off-season.
        Just saying,… Well respected in the league, knows hockey in his sleep, able to scout & see the strengths in players like no one else.. He’s perfect for the job. It’s his next chapter, after he gets the team into shape. He also won’t put up with anything Chiarelli if he gets out of line. He is the best move, but was off my radar because he retired.

        • jesse says yep

          At 66, can you really see Hitchcock wanting to learn a new trade? Maybe I guess, but who in their right mind would hire a 66 year old with absolutely no front office experience to run their team……….. Uh oh

    • Boba The Fett

      Why does nobody want to give Hitch a chance, they have openly said they will reevaluate at end of season. Making a long term coaching hire in 1 day is not the right way to make a change. The Oilers need to do a proper search in the offseason and interview guys that may be the right fit. Just because Coach Q is available does not mean he is the right guy. Also Q is 60 years old as well, not exactly a young buck.
      If you actually look at Hitch’s records over the past 7 years you will see a guy that has not had a sub .500 team since 2009-10 in Columbus so just relax people.

  • KPUZ

    TM is a scapegoat. Where is PC and upper management responsibility in this mess? Definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. At least Boston recognized that PC did not know how to run a team in this era.

  • Jimmer

    Hitch will get the most of this crappy line up this year. Until we fix our sub 900 save percentage and terrible contracts nothing will change other than McJesus asking for a trade or not resigning with the team after his 8 year contract is done.

  • Beut

    Good. Not that McLellan was bad. He just wasn’t getting it done. However the main man responsible for this cluster mess is Chiarelli and now that he’s had his one coaching change, we are closer to fixing the real problem.

  • Jonrls99

    IMAGINE THIS….

    Lucic + Cam Talbot + Third Rnd Pick to NJD for Cory Schneider + Drew Stafford.
    Lucic and Schneiders cap hits are the same and lucics contract is only one year longer.
    Stats are very similar between all four players this season, so theres little risk in this trade for both teams.

    THEN, if a miracle were to happen…

    Puljujarvi + Bear + either a 2019 or 2020 First Rnd Pick for Nylander, Sign nylander to max cap space for this season, and then Sign him to a 7-7.5 x 8 years this offseason if sekeras contract can be moved.

    this ones obviously far less likely considering toronto may be OK with nylander simply sitting out this season and signing him next season, but they would still be receiving plenty of good assets, even if they arent necessarily immediate help…

    all unlikely scenarios, but i think these two moves could change the scope of this team drastically…

    • Dapper Dan 3099

      you know what else would change the scope of this team, kassian and lucic for ovi and Carlson… but this isn’t a video game and that’s not going to ever happen…..

  • Serious Gord

    Hitch will be 67 in less than a month.

    He doesn’t speak millenial.

    He has no life outside of hockey. He “retired” because no one wanted him – he was seen as yesterday’s man.

    Can only see this as a panicked, rushed, desperation move by chia and the wine circuit. And what happens to the assistants? (it is notable that Strome was shocked by how intense practices are with the rangers compared to the oil. What does that say about those assistants? And will Hitch address it?)

    The shakespearean tragic-comedy begins yet another act…