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.

The Nation Roundup

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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  • 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.


    • 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.

  • KPUZ

    TM is a scapegoat. Where is PC and upper management responsibility in this mess? Definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. At least Boston recognized that PC did not know how to run a team in this era.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • puckle-head

    The best part? That means Chia’s coach firing move has been used and he’s next on the chopping block. I would be okay extending this losing streak if it means getting Chia out of here quicker.

    • Serious Gord

      so if the team is out of the playoffs do you let chia remain as GM past the trade deadline? Do you really want him making moves then? And if you don’t who is available that time of year?

      (what a mess…)

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Hitch would be a perfect transition to GM in the off-season.
        Just saying,… Well respected in the league, knows hockey in his sleep, able to scout & see the strengths in players like no one else.. He’s perfect for the job. It’s his next chapter, after he gets the team into shape. He also won’t put up with anything Chiarelli if he gets out of line. He is the best move, but was off my radar because he retired.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Beut

    Good. Not that McLellan was bad. He just wasn’t getting it done. However the main man responsible for this cluster mess is Chiarelli and now that he’s had his one coaching change, we are closer to fixing the real problem.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • crabman

    I commented yesterday that hiring Hitchcock would suck the offense and creativity out of McDavid not just the other team.
    I don’t think hiring a guy that has made his career from coaching his team to play boring, stingy, defensive trap hockey is the way to go in todays fast paced NHL and to me seems like a move a GM makes when he knows he didn’t give the coach enough talent to keep up. I like the firing of McLellan but don’t like his replacement and don’t think he is the answer.
    I have never wanted to be proven wrong, about anything hockey related, before in my life.

    • puckle-head

      I agree. the one thing I’d say in Hitchcock’s defense is that he did seem to genuinely try and adapt to the new fast-paced NHL while in St Louis. Not sure if he is the right guy for the job now, but I think it’s possible this is just an interim thing.

    • jesse says yep

      Hitch has always been a brilliant hockey mind and I doubt that he is unable to use that knowledge and apply it to today’s game. We shall see though. He did manage to coach a semi offensive minded team in St Lois though, so there is that. This was more of a shot across the bow of the players than a change in tactics I would think. With only having a contract umtil the end of this season, Hitch can hopefully convince the younger guys how to play sound hockey, being the better players for it.

  • 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.

  • Jimmer

    Hitch will get the most of this crappy line up this year. Until we fix our sub 900 save percentage and terrible contracts nothing will change other than McJesus asking for a trade or not resigning with the team after his 8 year contract is done.

  • 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.

  • 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.