Preparing for Life After Todd: Who Should vs. Who Could Replace McLellan

Yesterday, Kyle over at Oilers Nation wrote an article identifying three possible candidates for replacing Todd McLellan. The list consisted of Dave Tippett, Darryl Sutter, and Lindy Ruff… *shivers*.

You’ll notice that all three of those men were born prior to the Second World War. Also, all three haven’t been able to adapt to the new style and pace of the NHL, so much so that the game has left two of those three completely obsolete. Tippett wasn’t hired after being canned from the Coyotes in June, and Sutter was subsequently exiled back to his farm in Viking after the Kings failed to make the playoffs last year. Ruff was hired by the Rangers as an assistant after being shown the door by Dallas in April. And all these geezers, because Oilers (because Nicholson), are LIKELY candidates to replace Todd.

But they’re not who we should hire. Not even close, actually. Somehow I think we’d be better off with Todd sticking Lucic on the ice with under two minutes to go in a one goal game than having any of these pensioners behind the bench. Let’s remember the LA Kings locked Darryl Sutter out of his own goddamn dressing room late last season. Dave Tippett’s extreme defensive style should never be in the same area code as Connor McDavid. Lindy Ruff is Todd McLellan with more of an ego.

So who should we hire? Here are my three candidates (and then as a bonus, nine candidates the Oilers will probably choose instead):

1. Todd Nelson

Todd the OG God, baby.

In a move that would undoubtedly make ya boy Hank aka once-upon-a-time ENS Blog Machine the happiest man in Edmonton, I truly feel that bring Nelly back is one of the three best option for the Oilers. You’ll remember that we literally made him interview for his position despite him being the one who guided the worst Oilers team in franchise history to a miraculous 17-22-7 record despite inheriting the utter landfill leftover by Eakins and MacT (Eakins and MacTavish combined to give the Oilers SEVEN wins by December 30 [!!!]). It’s a small NHL sample size, but when you look at that roster and what TWO different “coaches” were unable to do before him, it’s an absolute miracle that my boy Todd was able to keep that team competitive down the stretch. He’s also the reigning Calder Trophy winning head coach with Grand Rapids in the American League, and had this to say in a recent interview with The Athletic‘s Craig Custance:

“I think in this day and age, if you wait for something bad to happen it’s going to happen. Why not try to dictate play? That goes along with my system work, that goes along with my philosophy. I hate the term, ‘Let’s weather the storm.’ I hate that because you’re in a defensive mode versus ‘We fight fire with fire’ and we’re going to jam it down their throat. Over the course of a game or series you have to adjust tactics; I get that. Those are the adjustments you have to make. I want to force them to beat us.  If I get beat, I don’t want to do it in a defensive mode. I want to go after them. If they beat us, I tip my hat to them.”

My god… why did we ever let this guy go? FIRE WITH FIRE!!!!

Could you imagine Todd telling Connor to “jam it down the other team’s throat”? I’m getting uncontrollably sweaty just thinking about that. Nelly is the ultimate players coach who would immediately fit in on this young and offensively gifted hockey club. He brings out offensive firepower everywhere he goes. He ran the best power play in the American League last year (third overall this season), and his Griffins are currently a top 10 goals for team in the minors despite Detroit’s recent draft record going right down the shitter. Basically, Nelly’s a goal-scoring whisperer. I’m not a gambling man but I’d even be willing to wager that Nelly could even get Lucic to score some goals. I’ve spoken to three different players that have played for Nelly, and all three of them have said he’s their favourite coach that they’ve ever played under.

Oh, and how does he run that mythical power play?

“Five forwards. We had the best power play in the league. We broke a franchise record and were on the cusp of breaking the league record. We ran 26 percent the whole year.”

Connor, Leon, Jesse, Nuge, and (uhh) Strome? I’m in let’s go #NellyForCoach2018.

2. Joel Quenneville

If the Blackhawks do something really stupid and fire Coach Q then it’s almost a no brainer who the Oilers should go after. His resume speaks for itself and, no thanks to Stan Bowman being a huge fucking idiot, Q’s been able to coach three different looking Hawks teams to Stanley Cup championships. Chicago’s in cap hell thanks to paying all 60 of Jonathan Toews’ yearly points a big $10.5 million and paying genuinely mediocre defenseman Brent Seabrook $6.875 million until the next millennium, and as a result of this extreme case of asset-mishandling, the Blackhawks have finally missed the playoffs this year. This after an impressive run of playoff appearances, all of which were coached by Q, and some very interesting signs have pointed towards the Hawks wanting to make a coaching change. If so, sign me the hell up for Quenneville. That moronic shit bag Bob Nicholson might actually be able to pull this off too (would be the first thing he’s done in Edmonton apart from deflecting blame, providing meaningless praise to meaningless individuals, and raising the cholesterol and saturated fat levels while simultaneously decimating the wallets of arena goers). Is Q old? Yes, but he’s somehow evolved with the game, as if he’s immune to that absurd ‘old school’ disease that every hockey man around his age seems to have caught. He’s heavily invested in analytics, and that’s helped keep Chicago successful while Bowman’s tried to intentionally run them into the ground. Just need the Hawks to fire him and I’m all aboard.

3. Sheldon Keefe

I know what you’re thinking, “Shan, you idiot, the last time we hired a Marlies head coach he was so bad that you named an award after him!” And you’re right. The PTSD of the gigantic shit that Dallas Eakins left on our franchise still haunts me today. He was beyond awful. He had no system, no structure, nothing. He was more focused on changing the snacks in the media room than fixing this hockey team (I’m actually beyond surprised Terry “Suge Knight” Jones didn’t kick Eakins down a flight of steps after he replaced the donuts with fresh apples). He did this:

But hear me out, fellow PTSDers: Sheldon Keefe is the real deal. Dubas (who I pray comes to Edmonton as a package deal with this) brought Keefe over from Sault Ste. Marie in 2015, and Keefe has done an amazing job developing Toronto’s young assets. One could argue he’s been a huge part of the reason that Toronto’s rebuild took five minutes when it apparently (according to everyone Edmonton, because Oilers) should have taken them six to eight years. And the Marlies continue to be successful despite his grooming of prospects for NHL-readiness. They’re currently first in the entire AHL with 45 wins in 64 games and boast the league’s best penalty kill by a ridiculous four percentage points. Also, they’re fourth in the league for goals for and lead the league in goals against by a modest 15 (!!!)!!! And he’s 37 years old. So we have a young, progressive thinking and successful head coach that can balance offense with tremendous defensive play. Yes, we would need to fix the blue line a little bit to provide Keefe (and Talbot) with a bit of support, but with the right GM, it’s doable.

For what it’s worth, I’d do some bad shit to get Dubas here. He’d be perfect for building a team around Connor.

That was fun. All those hypotheticals and assumptions that I’ve made based on the premise that we’re a rational thinking and relatively intelligent organization. Haha, good stuff. Now let’s briefly look at who the Oilers probably could hire.

1. Dave Tippett, because Wayne worked with him over in Arizona. (Could you imagine hiring a defensive-minded head coach to operate the Connor Machine? Nobody would ever in their right mind try something like that, and yet, that sounds exactly like something we would do.)

2. Darryl Sutter, because he’s an ALBERTAN BOYYYYY and his goddamn brother already works for the team.

3. Paul Coffey, because fuck us anyways.

4. Wayne Gretzky, because he’d already be drunk enough to agree to it.

5. Lindy Ruff, because I’m sure at some point he’s worked with Hockey Canada.

6. Harrison Katz, because he’d probably be better than the five guys listed above.

7. Glen Sather, because he’s basically the only person from the 1980s team that doesn’t actually work for us.

8. Hunter the Lynx, because I guarantee that furry idiot could operate a better power play than Woodcroft.

9. Pierre McGuire, because this team refuses to stop until I drink the rat poison.