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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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • CaptainCanada94

    I’m sick & tired of having to eek my way through life. I’m sick & tired of being a nobody. Most of all, I’m sick & tired of having nobody. –All Chiarelli’s fault!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Godspeed.

  • 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.

    • SSB1963

      I guess with Hitch we get a guy who got Modano to buy into the Defense first mantra. Worked out ok with him so maybe it will work here too? Here’s to hoping.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 …

  • Ron Burgundyz

    Did the Edmonton Oilers actually just fire someone? I am waiting for the follow-up report saying T-Mac is now Assistant to the Travelling Secretary.
    I guess you only get that treatment if you are a former Oiler…

    Anyway, it was pretty clear T-Mac had lost the room, and they didn’t bring in an ex-Oiler, so hooray question mark?

  • Bringer_Of_Snow

    The thing I don’t like about this is you know Chia did it just to save his job. Buy himself some time. He should have been the first to go. This is a move just to trick the fans that they are actively trying to improve

    • tealyn

      If Chia was a real man he would admit that he is pretty clueless and that his trades have mainly been duds and downgrades and he would see himself out, but Chia isn’t a real man and he will keep collecting his paycheck until he is shown the door. Working for the fans is the last thing on his mind right now, this has been an ongoing problem for this organization, the fans don’t come first. Katz paycheck comes first, then his ego(he keeps hiring old boys to make himself feel better) then his employees egos, and somewhere at the bottom of the pile of turtles are the ticket paying fans.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      You may be right. However it took a ton of persuasion to get Hitch out of retirement… I know, the one thing that brought him back was the challenge & the opportunity to coach the best player in the world. He, combined with Yawney will whip this defense into shape… I’m excited.
      Technically, this is Ken’s second run with the Oiler organization as he was the first coach of the Kamloops Blazers in the mid 80’s. Taking the Kamloops Oilers over from Bill LaForge, to go on to win a Mem Cup. Before that, he won an Air Canada Cup in North Bay, with the Sherwood Park Midgets…
      I think that latter team was 36 – 0 with a .6 goals against average. Welcome Home Ken…

    • 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.

  • Bills Bills

    Hahahahahahaha……. Who’s trashing who???

    Sorry had to do it as I got slaughtered yesterday for saying the Oilers should find the next Hitchcock. I am not sure if Ken is the right choice. His last few teams didn’t fair that well but we shall see. BTW anyone who thinks CMD will have his offence choked out of him, obviously never saw Mike Modano kick the crap out of the Oilers.

    • crabman

      great players will still be great players and I don’t doubt McDavid will still be a dynamic offensive player. I didn’t mean I think he will become a checking plug but style of play could change. Teams that plays the trap and is more of a stop the other team then try and win with the occasional counter attack when a mistake is made can still have a player like McDavid get his points and still be a boring team to watch the other 58 minutes a game when they aren’t attacking. Again I hope I am wrong and all he does is tighten up the team defence while still giving the teams best players the ability to play a more run and gun game. That style is working for the top line it’s the rest of the team that needs the help.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.