Bovada, the sports gambling website released a few days ago their odds at which coaches have the highest odds of being fired first in the 2018/2019 season.
Let that sink in for a moment. According to these odds McLellan has a more likely chance of being fired than the team that lost Erik Karlsson for nothing. For McLellan and the Oilers it's all about expectations. You aren't allowed to have the best player in the NHL and not be a competitive team.
Last season I took a balanced approach at McLellan's coaching ability. I felt he was a strong option to coach this team and had the misfortune of trying to coach a broken roster. It was difficult to blame him for the state of the defence-core or anticipating that Cam Talbot would struggle as he did.
However as the season progressed it became increasingly difficult to defend his decisions. The continued use of Milan Lucic in the top 6 despite his scoring drought, the use of Caggiula, special teams, other player usage. Like many veteran coaches, McLellan is stubborn and sticks to his guns but his refusal to change has hurt this roster.
The reason I am bringing this up is because of the practice lines McLellan rolled out today which will likely be the lines we see during tomorrow's game.
In my last blog I spoke that while there were some concerning issues in the first game there was not need to panic or make a big shakeup...clearly Coach McLellan disagreed with me.
Jesse Puljujarvi who scored 4 goals in pre-season, played a solid first game with the only decent scoring chance in the second period has been relegated to the fourth line, saddled with Drake Caggiula.
McLellan spoke all throughout pre-season that he felt that Jesse Puljujarvi needed consistency this year and wanted him to be paired with Ryan Strome and already these two are separated. It's becoming increasingly difficult to try and imagine what Puljujarvi can do to change his coaches perception of him.
Literally as I was writing this piece I heard Bob Stauffer talking on his show who stated that Manny Viveiros...who’s Swift Current Broncos team ranked first in the WHL on the PP is not running the Oilers PP. That means that Glen Gulutzan is running it… he was in charge of Calgary’s PP from last season which finished the year 15.99% which was good for 28th in the league.
For a league which is getting younger and younger and adapting to new ideas and strategies, Todd McLellan has the bearings of a man set in his ways. The wait between games 1 and 2 has been excruciating and perhaps tomorrow we will be discussing the Oilers first win.
From the outside the leash appears very short for Todd McLellan. This season he won’t have a couple months for his players to grow into his system. The results need to be immediate and while that may or may not be fair, it is the reality of the NHL.