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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

  • 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.

  • TKB2677

    If the future of the GM is in question which I believe it is, it makes sense that the organization wouldn’t let Chia hire a long term replacement. The roster still has holes which is on Chia but there are guys on this team that are not playing up to their capabilities. Hopefully Hitchcock can give the kick in the ass a few guys need.

  • The Dave

    Now just waiting for Craig, Kevin, Peter, Keith, Scott, and Wayne to be out of the organization, and maybe a few of our Oil Kings hires too. Looking at you, Shwartz.

    Hey Katz, why don’t you start some other hockey-centric project? If you don’t have it in you to fire your heroes then you can reassign them to your exciting new hockey charity or whatever and y’all can keep sipping red wine and talking puck while the NHL team gets run like a proper team for the first time in a decade.

  • 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.

  • elliotsmom

    I imagine General Disappointment will be canned before the Draft. It’s too bad that TM had to fall on the sword first, but a change was necessary. I’m
    sure he will be coaching on another team fairly soon. Good thing about Hitch is that he will run his bench and lines the way he thinks will get the best results. He doesn’t seem to play favorites and isn’t afraid to bench a player not playing well. Good luck to him and the team for the rest of the ride.

  • camdog

    I’ll never understand that we should keep a coach that hasn’t worked for over a year because the rest of the organisation is trash? With a devoted fan base that will settle for mediocrity no rush for the organisation to change how they operate. Reminds me of the Ballard years in Toronto, we’ve just come to accept it.

    Good thing about Hitch is he is doesn’t have to be politically correct as he’s sort of retired so isn’t trying to posture himself for another job. Hopefully he’ll be able to work for the changes that required further up the chain of command.

  • This is a pure, uneducated guess and im really jumping the gun but I feel like Hitchcock won’t be here long. He’s 66 and has Brett Favre’d more then once now. We’re bringing in an experienced, well respected head coach and we already have a young, well spoken of assistant on the bench who just needs experience. Maybe Hitchcock will be here for 2 seasons to groom Manny V and turns it over to him after? The ink is probably still too wet for them to even think that but I could see it as a scenario.

  • giddy

    I think out of anybody, McDavid will like Hitch. McDavid is an absolute workhorse and few other players in the NHL have a work effort like him. The rest of the team seems to have an effort problem, however, and they need some structure.

  • 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!!!!

  • Beer

    I am just guessing, but Hitch is here as a favour until the end of the year to see which player’s are keepers and which player’s are gone. NHL talent doesn’t guarantee NHL career, and vice versa. Half this roster is going to have a anxiety disorder by spring, Which is probably less than most of them at this moment.

  • CMG30

    Firing the coach usually results in a temporary boost in effort on the ice, but soon enough things return to baseline.

    Sadly, after 4 years as GM Chirelli has traded away more horses than he has acquired and blown the budget to boot. We need someone at the top who can build a team and manage money. Chirelli needs to be gone before he can do more damage.

    If Hitch brings more accoutability on the ice then thats a good thing. The only worry is that he’s another oldtimer who stuck in the past and can’t play todays game.

  • OldOilerFan

    I blame Chiarelli more than I blame McClellan for the teams woes this year, but McClellan also drove me nuts with some things, the line blender comes to mind. I think Hitchcock is probably a short term thing but I like it. The organization needs to step up but this move will shake the players too. I always liked Hitchcock, and I prefer it to the simple move of one of the Assistants taking over for the duration.

  • Karl Canada

    Looks like three lines of discipline and structure, and McDavids line getting the green light with some own zone tutoring. Much the same as he did with Modano in Dallas.

  • hagar

    At least something happened. Even if the chance of things turning around is slight, its something to try.
    Pretty obvious katz isnt interested in fixing the real problems, so hopefully hitch can come in and activate the consistancy of the players at least.
    There is some good hockey to be had if someone can get this current roster firing on all cylinders day in and out.

  • Ohlyr

    Ken Hitchcock has signed a contract for 62 games. He is the intern coach.
    Here is the plan going forward….
    1. He will coach and evaluate the current roster, and assistant coaches.
    2. Some players will be AHL bound, Press box bound, and traded.
    3. He will have a 1st hand look at the entire roster.
    4. At seasons end, Chiarelli will be dismissed. Hitchcock will be appointed new GM.
    5. Hitchcock can choose and assemble his entire coaching staff. Build the roster his way.
    6. The evaluation stage will be over, with Ken Hitchcock at the helm.
    7. Bob Nichelson, will say “The Plan” takes time and the fans should be patient.

  • Darcy yaceyko

    Hitch is not the guy for this team. The braintrust with the oilers is like the three stooges reruns over and over and over again. Depressing as hell!!