Though there had been plenty of chatter surrounding the Los Angeles Kings and former Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, the two may not be getting together after all. Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic tweets that McLellan is “closing in” on a deal with the Buffalo Sabres to become the team’s next head coach, which could be announced as soon as tomorrow. The Sabres have not officially commented one way or the other.
The Kings did ask for permission to speak with McLellan, who is still technically under contract with the Oilers despite having been relieved of his coaching duties. Some believed they were even closing in on a deal, though there is nothing confirmed from the Kings or the Sabres at this point. At the very least we know that McLellan will be behind the bench somewhere next season, returning to a career that brought him plenty of NHL success before his stint in Edmonton.
McLellan took over as head coach of the San Jose Sharks in 2008 and led the team to seven straight winning seasons. The club posted a 311-163-66 record under his watch and missed the playoffs only in his final year. Unfortunately the Sharks weren’t able to ever make a Stanley Cup Finals appearance with McLellan behind the bench, something they did in Peter DeBoer’s first year.
In Edmonton, things didn’t go nearly as well. McLellan was brought in to stabilize the franchise and guide it back to glory in 2015 just before they selected Connor McDavid first overall. Unfortunately even McDavid hasn’t been able to help right the ship, as in McLellan’s four years the team only went to the playoffs a single time. He finished his Oilers career with a 123-119-24 record, certainly not good enough when icing one of the best players in the world every night.
Bob McKenzie of TSN notes on Twitter that nothing seems to be completed between the Sabres and McLellan, though the coach was already scheduled to be in the area for the NCAA Frozen Four. We’ll have to wait to see if the Sabres can lock him up, or if the Kings come back with a better offer to sway things back in their favor.