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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ken Hitchcock won’t return as Oilers coach

It appears Ken Holland has already made his first major decision as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers. Ken Hitchcock will reportedly not be returning as the head coach of the Oilers and the team will now begin a search for his replacement.

This doesn’t really come as much of a surprise as the Oilers didn’t see much success last season with Hitchcock behind the bench. The Oilers got off to a hot start when Hitchcock replaced Todd McLellan in November but ultimately collapsed as time went along. The team apparently didn’t thrive under Hitchcock’s tough, old-school style and one would assume the organization will now look to find a more new-school coach to gel with their younger players.

As Darren Dreger reports, Hitchcock could stay with the organization as an advisor. I’m not sure what role it would be, whether in player development, upper management, or as some kind of roving advisor or instructor, but I figure Hitchcock’s vast array of experience and brilliant hockey mind would be of value in the organization, even if time has passed him by as a coach. Another thing to remember, Hitchcock is still under contract with the Oilers for another couple of years, so if they’re going to be paying him, I’m sure Darryl Katz would, at the very least, like to get some bang for his buck.

  • CMG30

    Todd was canned and Hitch was brought in because the Old Boys couldn’t understand that trading skill and speed away to make room for ‘grit’ and ‘character’ doesn’t produce a winning team in today’s NHL. Grit and character are great traits but they have to be in addition to speed and skill, not as a substitute.

    When the Old Boys’ thesis crumbled before their eyes, instead of learning from their mistakes they doubled down, fired Todd and brought in Hitch to ‘get tough’ with the players. I guess under the philosophy that if whip a plow horse enough you can win the Kentucky derby.

    For those of us who are not the ‘smartest guys in the room’, that’s obvious. The way you build a team is to have a balanced roster of players who can both keep up with the play and make plays when they get the puck. Forcing rookies into rolls before they’re ready because you’re overpaying other guys on money and term whose best days are behind them just because they’re rough in the corners is the opposite of how the winners are built today.

    • CafeOilers

      In the regular season, maybe. Where does all that speed and skill get teams in the playoffs each year? Nowhere, just like the Maple Leafs every year. It’s difficult to play that tough and physical all yr, but a team without it cannot survive 4 rounds of intense playoff hockey with small hockey players who are soft. Their bodies cannot hold up, they also turtle from the increased physical play, and outside perimeter scorers don’t score as much when the defense tightens. Need big physical players who go to the net and can withstand the punishment for 4 rounds. Also there are less powerplays given out for them to do their figure skating thing

  • McHitch

    So many players had career years under Hitch. I sure hope this doesnt result in the core regressing.

    Before Hitch Nurse had zero offence, Nuge was a 60 point player, Drai was not worth 8.5 and McDavid… well hes McDavid.

    This could be Kreuger 2.0 and that would be terrible.

  • WHH

    I like Hitch, and I don’t mean to dump on him, but I am not sure about the advisory role. Wasn’t he the one that wanted Manning, and didn’t he insist on bringing up Jesse from the minors because he felt he could help him. It is typical of the Oiler organization to remove people from their positions only to keep them in the organization in another role.

    • camdog

      He also was for dumping Cagguila because of his weak commitment to defence. He can be useful in advisory type role, but he needs to be balanced by somebody else. If you have a good management team removed of Mactavish types he can be useful.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I think Hitch is a great coach and he has had a lot of success as a coach, the problem, is I think Hitch’s coaching style . His defence first system worked great back in the day, the problem is the game has evolved and has gotten a lot faster, and the defensive style first just gets picked apart. I also was nort a fan of TM and Hitch’s constant blender use, yues sometimes you have to take it out when nothing is going, but you also have to see if guys can gel, and last two years guys havent really had time to gel or when they were the blender came out. I thin k Hitch will do fine is a consultant capacity.

      Next to go should be the assistants and goalie coach Schwartz

  • FISTO Siltanen

    “Hitchcock’s vast array of experience and brilliant hockey mind would be of value in the organization”.

    So true.

    Now write the opposite and change Hitchcock out to MacTavish and Howson.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    *slow clap*

    Congratulations, you decided to not bring back the one guy WE ALL KNEW wasn’t going to be HC next season. Wow you’re so friggin smart. Here’s a better idea, fire the OBC. Oh wait you’re too stupid to do so.

  • TKB2677

    Hitch is a great hockey mind and I am sure he brought some value to the Oilers and will continue to bring value to the Oilers as an advisor. He’s also going to be 68 yrs old and is an extremely hard coach to play for. That grinds on the players and you could see it. He also didn’t get any better results out of the team.

    There is lots of good minds out there.

  • cityofchampions

    I didn’t mind Hitch, but the GM/POHO has to be in tune with his coach and needs to bring in someone who has the same philosophy as him. I do like that Holland didn’t mess around and made the change immediately…I hope he cleans out the OBC just as quickly and efficiently.