Oilers Fire McLellan, Hire Hitchcock as New Coach

by | Nov 20, 2018 | News, NHL, Rumors | 24 comments

The Edmonton Oilers fired head coach Todd McLellan, replacing him with Ken Hitchcock.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the eighth time in 10 years, the Oilers make a coaching change. McLellan joins Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins, and Todd Nelson on the growing list of bench bosses who, for the most part, paid for the sins of management over the years.

Todd McLellan was fired as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images)

McLellan had his critics and their evaluations weren’t without merit. Still, he coached the Oilers in 2017 to their first 100-point season in 30 years, which also ended a decade-long playoff drought.

McLellan didn’t suddenly forget how to coach. Rather, he paid the price for a starting goalie (Cam Talbot) who failed to regain his stellar 2016-17 form, for a defense that never really recovered from Andrej Sekera’s lengthy injury-related absences, for a lack of checking-line depth and right-wing scoring, for a once-intimidating power forward (Milan Lucic) whose best seasons are now behind him, and for a series of bad trades by general manager Peter Chiarelli that did more harm than good.

So now it’s Hitchcock’s turn to try and succeed where so many have failed. He ranks fifth all-time in NHL games coached. In 20 years with the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and St. Louis Blues, Hitchcock has a record of 823-506-88-119. He guided the Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999 and won the Jack Adams Award with the Blues in 2012.

Hitchcock has an impressive resume but there’s no certainty he can overcome the Oilers’ roster weaknesses and get them back on track this season. His hiring has the whiff of desperation from a general manager trying to keep his job. If Hitchcock fails, Chiarelli will be next out the door.



  1. What’s really sad about this is no teams hire any of our ex coaches to coach in the NHL. Plus the fact that Hithcock is well past his coaching prime? I wish they would have hired him 20 years ago not when his coaching success was many years ago. I hope he does great being an oiler fan but in reality when does management take any blame here for poor trades? This looks like a Nicholson hire with hockey Canada connections all over it. Is Chia maybe just a puppet GM now until they switch to Keith Gretzky?

    • Keith Gretzky? Why would they hire him? Maybe you mean Wayne, but doubt he is hired in the future. No experience. No Peter C not a puppet GM, just a bad one. He will be fired at the end of the season when the Oilers miss the playoffs again.

  2. Oilers fans can hope Chiarelli is the next to go

  3. Well good luck Hitch. St Louis just canned Yeo so I guess its too late to change your mind now

    • Seems Craig Berube will take over in St. Louis so I guess you really stuck there in Edmonton now Hitch

    • Seems St Louis just hired Craig Berube so good luck Hitch

  4. Sad to see another coach take the fall for a poorly run organization. Edmonton needs to revamp from the top down. Build a proper infrastructure that includes a proper scouting and player development program. I feel very bad for Hitchcock but I assume they are paying him very well, for the money the job must be more than tolerable.

  5. 8 coaches in 10 years… yeah, it must be a coaching issue. No way it could be bad drafting, bad trades, bad free agent deals.

    Yeah, coaching… that’s the issue!

  6. Well, at least the weather’s nice…oh wait…never mind.

  7. Surprised Joel Q did not get either job, but maybe he was offered one of them and turned it down.

  8. It’s too bad TM had to pay the price in Edmonton. It’s not his fault he is working from bad trades and moves by Chiarelli (Hall, Larsson, Lucic, Eberle, Strome, etc.) Chiarelli should have fired himself.

  9. Echoing Dreger…that is most likely Chia’s last bullet before he himself gets canned.

  10. Chirarelli needs to be gone too. Hitchcock, as stated above, is ABSOLUTELY a “please save my job” hire by the GM. It will not work.
    I am an Oiler fan, but this team is stuck in the stone age of the NHL – in other words, they’re 5 years behind the curve.
    The league is now about possession and speed. The only battles to be won are in attacking the opposition and getting the puck back when you don’t have it…..desperately seeking to get the puck back.
    Players are smaller…faster….smarter. The Oilers have paid no attention to this, and the symbol of Chiarelli’s ignorance is Milan Lucic. Looch has put the OIlers $6 mill behind everybody else, and he is utterly useless now. The game Saturday night was entertaining “old time” hockey, but who won in the end when they hit the octane in the third? The team much more capably built to handle the modern day NHL.

    • I despise Petr Klima!
      I’m sure that you’re a nice person though.

  11. Nice to see two more “dysfunctional” teams taking some of the heat off the Sens – for a while at least.

  12. I think it is going to take a lot more than firing the GM in Edmonton. There whole management team from right under ownership down needs to be gutted and start from scratch. Fire everyone above the GM, bring in someone to look over the state of the franchise and this summer start firing and hiring the right people for the right jobs. Obviously their scouting and development needs a top down rebuild as well as top up management. Until the Ownership decides to make that move, I feel sorry for the loyal Oil fans.

    • Mark Hunter GM and Sheldon Keefe coach for next season. Mark Brings his scouting team. May take a few years but will payoff for McDavid

  13. the one who should have and hopefully still will be shown the door is chia he has single handily in 3 years made a bad team worse even McDavid could nt help pull off a miracle to turn this team around this guy has a history of making bad decisions and of been taken in almost every trade he’s made it’s unfortunate that he was not let go rather than todd as todd is the scape goat for a very incompetent G M

  14. He just had to make a splash an impact as the new GM. You have to manage teams in 5 year windows not 5 minute windows. Larsson might have been the best deal at that time. What about now -last year ? Why Hall . I think it was all too quick . Snowballed from there.

    Can Hitch see his feet to tie his skates or he doesn’t go on the ice anymore

    • What do you think the assistant coaches are there for?

  15. I sometimes have trouble tying my skates. Just saying.

    • Your not coaching the Oilers (yet anyway)

  16. The problems start at the highest level and he is going no where as he is the owner. He can change and he can make changes but he goes no where.

    But the problems still are at the highest level. He should have started his firings with Nicholson. What quality leadership did he provide. And what do you expect from a Hockey Canada bureaucrat. Struck me as an idiot hire at the time. If he hired Chia….then should go now along with Chia…in my opinion Nicholson should be publicly called out by the owner.

    He seems to have been hiding in the weeds like a bureaucrat…going to meetings with people with real experience…hobnobbing with players while never playing…hiring managers while never having managed…he is the John Shannon of hockey leadership….all talk no experience

    After firing him ….the owner should apologize to the fans for ever hiring him…

    With this you get as close to the clean sheet as you can..then you are ready to start with some of the really good assets you have

  17. nhl should name the coach and the gm of the week.


  1. Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli savaged for handling of team, but praised for coaching change – Edmonton News - […] Lyle Richardson, Spector’s Hockey: “McLellan didn’t suddenly forget how to coach. Rather, he paid the price for a starting…