If this is the end……now what?
May 21, 2015/in Features, News & Releases /by condors
Whether it’s midseason or at the end of the year, it is now inevitable that Todd McLellan will be fired as coach of the Oilers. I HATE that we got to this point because I have always supported TMac and given him the benefit of the doubt on so many occasions but the reality is his team has either tuned him out or are just not responding well enough to turn this around. I still put the majority of blame on the players for this lousy season. Overconfidence, poor execution, piss poor efforts and just an unwillingness to bear down and do the little things consistently enough to win games are all on the players. However, I don’t care what sport you are in if the players continually don’t show up for the coach…..it’s over. Time for a change.
Todd McLellan’s stubbornness and unwillingness to adapt are the main reasons for his downfall. There are many questions fans and media alike have for the coach as to why he didn’t do certain things sooner. Would this season have a different outcome if some of these were addressed earlier? Perhaps. David Staples from the Edmonton Journal breaks them down nicely here:
— David Staples (@dstaples) January 3, 2018
Now there are many on social media who will attack GM Peter Chiarelli for hiring him or for giving him this roster to begin with. Well, many of these people have hated the GM from the beginning so it’s no surprise they are looking to take advantage of the situation by killing two birds with one stone. The reality is, this is still a very talented roster with excellent depth in the organization thanks to some great drafts (especially on D) and good College FA signings. The GM doesn’t control the PK at home (which has been historically bad), can’t make the coach switch up the same 5 guys on the PP and can’t MAKE the players give 100% effort every night. “Well he didn’t fill the holes properly it’s his fault they’re not very good!” some people say. Fair argument however I would counter with:
“If you bring in a different coaching staff do you think this team would have better results?”
If the answer is yes, (it should be IMO) then the decision is simple. The job of the coach is to make the MOST out of what he has and you could argue McLellan is getting the LEAST. Look at other teams around the league like Vegas & Colorado. Do they have more talent on paper than the Oilers? No chance. Even if you thought they weren’t as good as their record last year, surely you don’t think they are as bad as they are this year. They’re somewhere in between. Which means the staff is underachieving. The inability to fix the worst PK at home in the history of the league since they started tracking it (how is that even possible?) after 40 games should be reason enough to fire at least the assistants. Knowing TMac though he is in this together with his assistants who he brought with him from San Jose originally. Plus, he has taken over the units in practice in an attempt to fix it which clearly hasn’t made any significant difference so it’s all on him. He’s steering the sinking ship.
The inability to properly motivate this team to show up consistently in afternoon games is just another example in a long list of failures from this staff this year. I know traditionally this team has never been good in day games but that’s no excuse when you are supposedly playing desperation hockey. The point is, while everyone is to blame for this mess of a season you can’t fire an entire roster and you certainly shouldn’t be looking to fire a General Manager until you see how a different coach handles this talented group. If this team gave the kind of effort Vegas does every night they would be leading their division not bringing up the rear. So the coach will likely take the fall and bail out the players for the time being with the heat then being shifted to the GM who will have a critical decision on hiring the right man to “right the ship”.
GM Peter Chiarelli has turned around a franchise that was pitiful before he got there and rebuilt the depth throughout the organization in a relatively short period of time. The team has some excellent prospects on the horizon ready to make an impact the next few years thanks to three good drafts. However, he has made some controversial trades which are great if he gets the necessary results (which he did get last year) but will backfire on him if his team underachieves (this year). He has had a vision and plan all along and while it got accelerated last season I can’t imagine he envisioned there would be this kind of drop off this year. So he has no choice but to let his coach go and it is imperative he finds the right replacement to maximize the talents of it’s core players and he tailors the roster again if he has to in order to ease that transition and salvage his own job. That being said, I expect an interim coach to take over soon either internally or externally if possible then in the offseason Mr. Chiarelli will be tasked with his biggest decision (and final chance) of finding the best coach possible. UPDATE: GM says he has no intention of firing coach (for now I imagine unless it gets way worse) so it may end up being at the end of the season. Link
So if TMac ultimately gets canned at the end of the year, who could his replacement be? While it’s likely way too early to determine candidates and we may be getting way ahead of ourselves I will throw one name out there that my buddy @jerschur first brought up: Former Alberta Golden Bear – Kris Knoblauch
Terry Wilson / OHL Images
Kris Knoblauch was Connor McDavid’s OHL coach in Erie and is currently an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers. He took over for Robbie Ftorek in Erie halfway thru 2012. Following that season, his record as coach in his 4 full seasons in Erie was 204-58-10 as he turned Erie into a powerhouse, making at least the 3rd round of the playoffs every year while winning the OHL Championship in 2016-17 earning a trip to the Memorial Cup. Prior to that, he coached the Kootenay Ice of the WHL to a 82-47-15 record in two seasons winning the WHL Championship in 2010-11 while also earning a bid to the Memorial Cup. ***
He is widely renowned as a highly motivating coach who loves his teams to play fast, smart hockey and gets the most out of his players. An excellent read here on Broadstreethockey.com:
— Zesty Flyers News (@zesty_flyers) June 7, 2017
Whether or not Knoblauch would even be available this summer is not entirely clear. If Philadelphia continues to struggle it is possible they may also consider a coaching change midseason and Knoblauch takes over as their head coach. However, it is also possible that if come the summer he is still an assistant he should be on a short list of potential candidates to replace the departed McLellan. He would likely be extremely interested too due to his familiarity with the area and familiarity with the Captain of the Oilers. His fast paced style would likely be a welcome addition to a team desperate to maximize it’s abilities – something KK is very adept at unlocking. The roster would surely require some tinkering if he indeed was hired (replacing UFA’s like Maroon with young faster players) but on paper it seems to be a match made in heaven. The question is……will Chiarelli think so or will he even be around to make that decision?
To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight
***Knoblauch’s playing & coaching stats referenced can be found here: http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=28832