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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.

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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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  • 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.

  • Boba The Fett

    A few things….

    1. This is a short term stop gap until end of season.
    2. At end of season it allows management to properly search for a coach. Also allows potentially new mgmt to hire their own coach.
    3. Hitch has a proven record so nobody can complain about us hiring someone unproven.
    4. Hitch has a proven track record in short instances as he is known for a having a shelf life. Makes him a good short term option.
    5. Hitch is a hard ass that believes in structure and discipline, something everyone can agree has been lacking as of late.
    6. This is not a long term solution so lets not everyone panic, if Hitch can turn this around for this year and instill some solid work ethic in this team then maybe we can all be happy. But please lets not start complaining about Hitch out of the gate after complaining about Todd, give him a chance at least to turn this around.
    7. If Hitch fails then 90% Chia is gone and everyone gets their wish.
    8. This shows either Coach Q said no or ownership did not give permission to go after a big ticket coach with Todd still on the books for next year. I am leaning toward Q saying no.

    • the dope $teez

      Bingo, short term move to tide over the fans and it allows some breathing room to find a suitable replacement. If the Oilers manage to turn things around, maybe Hitch comes out of retirement on a 1-year deal, but at the very least they can adequately assess the team and actually separate all the sissies from the guys who want to be here.

      If they continue to do poorly, nobody in their right mind can blame Hitch, so at least the players got a half year of some piss and vinegar. Then in all likelihood Chia pete gets fired and they start rebuild 6.0…. or is it 7.0 now?

  • Heschultzhescores

    How about we give Hitch a chance and maybe support him for the remainder of the year. He is coming into a hellfire that is not for the faint of heart. I give the man huge credit for that.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I will tell you this much, if Hitch see Benning being a tire fire, he will tell Benning why he is being a tire fire and staple his ass to the bench and then put his ass in the press box to see think about it and have Benning and the coaches work on Bennings game in practice. There wont be any oh the player can figure out whats wrong, Hitch will tell you what is wrong.

  • 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.

  • A-co

    The best part about this is todd was on the plane with the team that went to San Jose….you have to be kidding me…you thought firing Kruger via Skype was bad….this organization is laughable…# browns north

  • Odanada

    Hitchcock is a Nicholson hire and is fitting in at the end of the season at which time he will provide BN with a “forensic audit” of the team’s strengths and weaknesses and also an evaluation of the personnel prospects.

  • Since 72

    Ouch, thought being an Oilers was supposed to be easy! You should win more than you lose and win a playoff round once in a while, maybe an occasional Stanley cup! This is hard work! Somebody please help!!!?

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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’…

  • 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.