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.

Edmonton Oilers 2019-20 player review: Mikko Koskinen

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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  • Prairiechicken

    Maybe Todd deserves to go. Unless you’re in that room … it’s tough to say.

    But … you don’t have to be in the room to see that
    1. Chia builds a defense (all but Klef and Nurse are his hires) and says they aren’t good / can’t move the pick. ie. His fault.
    2. He hires a coach he now says wasn’t good enough. His fault.
    3. Signs a player for 6M who has 2 goals in about a year.

    I could go on and on … obviously ….

    I appreciate that he’s taken a few bets to try to make this team better. And not even the best GM in the world is going to win each bet. Also I’m not pretending I was smart enough to have predict the failures at the time. But no one – even he – can deny that almost all of his moves have been colossal failures.

    It’s going to annoy me to no end seeing him parade out to a presser to announce the firing …

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Odanada

    Look at the awkward, rushed decision.
    This is a Bob Nicholson firing and PC is doing what he’s told. Hitch will evaluate the team until year end, file a report with his good buddy BN and then Chia is toast.

    • 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.

  • TKB2677

    So Chia confirms that Hitchcock is here for the rest of the season then it will be reevaluated. Makes a little sense to me. If I am the organization, I am not letting Chia hire a long term coach when I don’t know if he will be here next season. On the flip side, if I am a good coach, I am not taking a job where I don’t know who my boss might be in 6 months.

    This team has some roster issues but at the same time, I think there are guys under performing and need a boot in the ass. The guys I think that can be a lot better are:
    Lucic, Khaira, brodziak, Kassian, Benning, Nurse, Rattie, Talbot. Caggulia has been decent at times but still does stupid mistakes. I think Nuge who has been decent points wise BUT those points are with McDavid. Take him away from McDavid and he doesn’t score a lot and he has 4 goals which isn’t enough. I think Leon can be better. He looks dominate with McDavid, can look dominate at times on his own but other times, he isn’t anywhere near as good as he can be.

    • giddy

      I do want to see what happens with Hitch and Draisaitl. Drai is an absolute monster when he’s moving his feet and has a fire lit under his ass, but has completely lazy games all over the place. Hitch doesn’t tolerate that whatsoever.

      I think we’re either going to see Drai completely crash and burn this season as he clashes with the coach, or he’s going to have a career year and put up 85 points.

  • 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.

  • Derzie

    Chia tripling down on his dumb moves. The game changes every couple of months. Bringing in a defensive dinosaur should work wonders. The home arena staff better stock up on bulbs for the red light behind the home net. Gonna be a light show.
    To state the obvious, Lowe, Katz, MacT are clowns. Wealthy, narrow minded clowns.

  • 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.