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.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 20, 2018
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
The 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.
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) November 20, 2018
The Oilers are allowing 3.30 goals per game (tied for 24th in the League) and they're 74.2 percent on the PK (27th). Can Hitch solve these issues? Can he help Cam Talbot help the Oilers solve these issues? He has accepted a challenge.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) November 20, 2018
A couple notes on this Hitch to Edmonton thing:
– He was in an advisory role with Stars. So technically he needed Dallas permission to take this job.
– Montgomery had spoken to Hitch a handful of times this season to discuss things that happened in particular games.
— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) November 20, 2018
Hitchcock is very interesting hire. Is a stop gap more than long term answer. If things don’t improve this makes it easier to fire GM change in summer and new then GM can pick his head coach. #Oilers
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) November 20, 2018