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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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  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Darcy yaceyko

    So just like I said a couple days ago, the coach takes the bullet!! How many coaches have we had in the last decade? The management, old boys club survives. What in the hell are they paying messier to do? Get his ass out there to work with these players.. until all that top heavy crap is gone and katz sells the team were never gonna improve.
    ,

  • 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.

  • camdog

    The irony is that PC just traded for a skilled winger that’s weak positionally ( a Todd player) for a right shot centre that is solid positionally (a Hitch player). This is 2 games back, people in Edmonton brass won’t pick up on this, but the GM’s and other players around the league well. PC is completely disconnected from this team.

  • 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 …

  • 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.

  • Johnny Zylon

    Too bad Hitchcock’s first game as the Oilers coach is going to be a loss in San Jose. 66 years old, I hope he doesn’t have a heart attack before the end of the season. I would have given the reigns to Gulutzen.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Lowetides a tool, how he has a radio show is beyond me, on the bright side he doesn’t write here anymore. Talk about major addition by subtraction.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.