As expected, Todd McLellan didn’t stay unemployed in the NHL for very long.
Less than a month after the Sharks and McLellan announced that they were mutually parting ways, the Edmonton Oilers officially revealed the 47-year-old as their new head coach in a press conference on Tuesday. The Sharks will reportedly receive compensation for McLellan, per a new NHL rule that requires the hiring club to surrender a third round pick in one of the next three years.
Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli, who was let go himself just a few weeks ago from the same post in Boston, did the honors with McLellan sitting directly to his left.
“Todd brings with him a wealth of experience, a level of energy, [and] an intellect that I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Chiarelli, who first met with McLellan in Prague, where the coach recently led Team Canada to a gold medal in the World Championships in Prague.
From a San Jose perspective, one notable moment came when McLellan deviated a bit from the Sharks' official announcement on April 20, when he said that he was “released in San Jose” just a few days before leaving for the Czech Republic.
Despite McLellan saying he needed time with his family immediately after the Sharks’ disappointing season ended, the thought now is that even if McLellan desired to stay with the Sharks, Wilson would have been ready to move on regardless of the coach's wishes.
McLellan and Wilson both had concerns about McLellan’s message or approach not quite working anymore, and perhaps some players in the dressing room – including former captain Joe Thornton – had grown weary of the seven-year bench boss.
Even McLellan admitted on Tuesday, “it was just time for the players and the coach to refresh, I guess is the best word,” he said of his situation with the Sharks.
He was still complimentary of the team he’s leaving behind, though, despite years of playoff failure.
“We ended up losing to some very good teams: Chicago, Los Angeles, teams that went on to win the Stanley Cup,” McLellan said. “Sometimes you get beat by a better team. It’s as simple as that.
“We were close. We had really good teams. They still have a tremendous team. They have tremendous athletes in that locker room. They’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Now, though, McLellan will be in direct competition with the Sharks for the immediate future, as the two clubs compete in the Pacific Division and will meet at least four times next season. Edmonton is still at least a few years from being anything close to contender, but perhaps with the addition of one of the most respected coaches in the league, a Stanley Cup-winning general manager and future star Connor McDavid on the way, they can at least become a respectable foe fairly soon.
At the very least, the Oilers have refreshed what was a mess of an organization.
“It’s brand new," McLellan said. "Everybody gets a fresh start, and we’ll go from there.”