Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan met with the media yesterday for the final time this season to sort through the ugly details of another wasted season in Edmonton. As you might imagine, there weren’t many smiles from the veteran head coach as he stood at the podium and took questions from the assembled media on what and why things went wrong for the Oilers this season.
When asked point blank who the responsibility for the team’s failure lies with, McLellan made it clear that he’s the one to blame. “The performance of the team is on my shoulders, I’m the head coach and I accept responsibility for that.”
McLellan then went on to explain what his process will be for moving forward and getting past this season’s disappointments. “I can point fingers at players, but I got to look in the mirror first and evaluate what I’m seeing and whether or not I like what I did this season and what I need to adjust.,” he said before ending with, “that will happen.”
There’s no real way to sugar coat the Oilers’ disappointing 23rd place finish in the standings. After a successful 103 point season and an opening round win in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Oilers put up a dismal 78 point campaign in 2017-18. Brutal. After finally getting back into the postseason for the first time in a decade, the Oilers followed it up with another giant step backwards. So. Frustrating.
It’s doubly frustrating when you consider that the Oilers have inarguably the best player in the world with superstar Connor McDavid. For the second season in a row McDavid has won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading point scorer with a remarkable 41 goals and 108 points. Part of the problem, in fact a MAJOR problem, in Edmonton is the lack of support that McDavid gets from his teammates. For all the accolades that burgeoning star Leon Draisaitl gets, he was still 38 points behind McDavid in team scoring this season. The Oiler’s third leading scorer, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, managed just 48 points… an even 60 points behind McDavid. Yikes.
Meanwhile, two of general manager Peter Chiarelli’s cast offs, Jordan Eberle of the New York Islanders and Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils, put up big points for their new clubs. Eberle managed 25 goals and 59 points playing alongside Islanders rookie Matthew Barzal… just imagine the production he could have managed alongside McDavid or Draisaitl.
As for Hall… he’s being mentioned alongside McDavid in Hart Trophy discussions as the NHL’s most-valuable player. His 39 goals and 93 points for the Devils this year are a career high, and represent a 12 goal and nearly 15 point improvement on his best ever season in Edmonton. Ouch.
So, while McLellan may not have gotten the best out of his players and he’s doing the admirable thing by accepting responsibility for this past season… true Oilers fans know where there real responsibility lies. Chiarelli must go.