11:54 ET Emily Kaplan ESPN The underachieving Edmonton Oilers fired coach Todd McLellan on Tuesday and will replace him with…
The underachieving Edmonton Oilers fired coach Todd McLellan on Tuesday and will replace him with Ken Hitchcock.
This is the fourth NHL head coach firing of The season and second within 12 hours after the St. Louis Blues dismissed coach Mike Yeo late Monday night. Last season, there were no head coaching firings during the regular season, a first since Original Six expansion.
Through the quarter mark of the season, the Oilers are 9-1
0-1 and sixth in the Pacific Division. At .475 they have the sixth-lowest point percentage in the league. McLellan has been behind the bench in Edmonton since the 2015-16 season after spending seven seasons as the San Jose Sharks coach. The Oilers had a terrific 2016-17 campaign and expectations were high that their Stanley Cup window was near with generational center Connor McDavid not yet reaching his prime. But Edmonton missed the playoffs the following season, stumbling to a 36-40-6 record (78 points) which placed sixth in the Pacific Division – despite McDavid leading the league with 108 points.
Hitchock, 66, is the third -winningest coach in NHL history with 823 wins, trailing the 890 of Joel Quenneville (who was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this season) and Scotty Bowman’s 1,244. Hitchcock has spent 22 seasons as a head coach with Philadelphia, Columbus, St. Louis and most recently Dallas. Hitchock stepped away from his job with the Stars at the conclusion of last season, despite signing a multi-year contract one year earlier.
“I have contemplated this since our last game and I came to the conclusion that now is the right Hitchcock said at the time.
In his first stint with Dallas, Hitchock won the Stanley Cup in 1999. He won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach in 2011-12 with the Blues, who led two to the playoffs five times in six years. Hitchcock, an Edmonton native, was serving as a consultant for the Stars before the Oilers hiring.
The Oilers had some mild success earlier in the month but have faltered too late. In their last seven games, the Oilers are 1-6-1, being out-scored 29-17 in that span.