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Report: Oilers finally make a coaching change

First the Rangers, then the Stars… now the Oilers follow suit with some massive changes behind the bench.

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According to a report from the Edmonton Journal’s Kurt Leavins, the Edmonton Oilers have relieved assistant coach Jim Johnson of his coaching duties. Here’s the word, straight from the source, Leavins himself:

The first casualty is Assistant Coach Jim Johnson. I am told by one source that in fact he has already been released from his current position. What I know for a fact is that Johnson was relieved of his duties on the Oilers PK, probably sometime around late January, early February (the exact date is conjecture, on my part, but it’s close). From then on, the improvement we all saw in the PK was primarily while Todd McLellan ran that unit himself. Which suggests at least part of the problem was, indeed, coaching.

Leavins also believes that assistant Jay Woodcraft could also be let go, saying:

The next name to consider is Jay Woodcroft. While the Penalty Kill finally did recover, that wretched Power Play did not, finishing 31st in the NHL (14.8%). This, on a team that boasts both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Further, it was a Power Play that was 5th in the NHL last season (22.9%). The on-ice personnel wasn’t all that different, on these units. Certainly not enough to explain that kind of gap. So, what gives?

As for the fate of head coach Todd McLellan, it appears as though he’ll remain with the team, with Leavins saying, “I strongly believe that Todd McLellan will be back behind the bench, to begin 2018-19.”

So, we ask you Oilers fans: is this enough? Will you be satisfied with another McLellan led Oilers squad in 2018-19? Even with new assistants? Or, is this just akin to the old saying, “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?”

Fan support for McLellan is divided, to say the least, in Alberta’s capital. The veteran head coach has coached 786 career NHL games with a .597 winning percentage. In Edmonton, however, his record is 114-109-23, for a winning percentage of just .510. Not good enough. 

Further confusing things is the lack of options on the coaching market. Former New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is available and there are varying reports on Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters, but are either men an improvement on McLellan?