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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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  • Dapper Dan 3099

    I do agree that Todd’s time was up, I’m just not sure hitch is the answer…. good coach in the 90’s, not in todays NHL….. but with this roster, and lack of cap space to fix it, I don’t think there is a coach out there that can succeed here

    • SmyttysMulletsRevenge

      he Blues had the third best points percentage from 2011-2017 with Hitch (.650, behind Pittsburgh/Chicago) and out-scored their opponents by 193 goals during that span while surrendering the second-fewest shots against and goals against. Oilers could use some of that these days.

      think his success extended beyond the 90s bud

      • Dapper Dan 3099

        allow me to clarify bud…. IMO his best coaching years were in the 90’s (yes he had some success past that too)…. but my main point is that his best years appear to be behind him, and I’d be surprised to see him right this ship…. I certainly hope I’m wrong

    • GRC

      I see this in 2 ways.
      First the team needed an outside voice and new ideas.
      Secondly Hitch might well be the best interim solution for maximizing the roster for the rest of the season.

      I think Chiarelli needs to go (and will be gone at seasons end) but I am optimistic about the decision to hire Hitch as an interim solution.

  • Burnward

    Dear Todd,

    Sign a six-month lease (fully serviced of course) in Mexico and jusssst chill.

    A few games on gamecentre, sure.

    But it’s time to decompress.

    Call it your Cyprus.

    Godspeed.

    • mikel

      the two probable reasons Q wasn’t hired:

      a> they didn’t want a long term commitment because they probably will be replacing PC at year’s end…
      b> he turned it down…

      I’m going with ‘b’…

  • camdog

    The boys quit on the coach last year. And they quit on Todd again this year. The Strome trade was the last straw. When you trade somebody in the room the players feel hasn’t been treated fairly by the coach, they either come out playing for you or they quit on you and they obviously quit on him.

    Any other organisation and this would have been done last year, but the building is sold out so what does Katz care? The only one in the tower that should stay is Keith Gretzky the rest need to go for being part of building this mess.

  • btrain

    Hate that the same old recipe is required before the real culprit can be relieved of his duties. I feel indifferent about TM being fired, but he wasn’t the problem, the roster is the problem.

  • Drinking my Oilers problems away...

    Well I didn’t think they had the guts to do it this year, good on them I guess. I wanted both gone but I think Chia needed to kick rocks at the same time or before TMac.

  • CaptainCanada94

    I’m sick & tired of having to eek my way through life. I’m sick & tired of being a nobody. Most of all, I’m sick & tired of having nobody. –All Chiarelli’s fault!

  • 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.

      • Bigdaddypuck

        Are you saying that TMC has the same reputation as Hitch as to discipline and team play? I would say Hitch has been much higher on that scale since he stepped behind the stars bench. Will his style be a hit here not sure. But I’d much rather see Hitch behind the bench as a stop gap than an assistant. He has 15 games in 30 days tough for any coach to walk in to this situation. But from team assessment view I’d be very interested in hitches view of the oilers at the end of the year. His reputation and views are respected league wide and he’s an outsider so best of a bad situation is my take.

  • 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!!!!