Todd McLellan rips Oilers; still trying to 'eliminate' bad habits

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  • Todd McLellan
    Canadian ice hockey player

Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan will not allow his team to coast into the offseason.

That was the message he gave in a passionate speech to reporters after Edmonton lost 5-0 to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night – their last game to their rival at Rexall Place.

“We’ve been together 200 days and talked a lot about competing and working hard and holding your hand showing up, and we get that. That’s the exact crap we are trying to eradicate from this group. You work hard and try to at least get some foundation. And we were out-shot. We were out-hit. We were out-scored. We were out-faceoffed. We were out-power-played. We were out-penalty-killed,” he said.

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He didn’t stop there, he continued without any prompting or questioning.

“Our shift length was terrible. They played four games in six nights and we’re going to go for 55-second shifts. We’re going to turn the puck over 1:10 into a shift and cheated on a change. We had a center who changed with a center who happened to be two zones away,” McLellan added

Then McLellan pointed that he will continue to try to crack the whip in the season’s last week. “And that’s the exact attitude and bulls*^t that we’re trying to eliminate here. And we see it after 200 days. But at least we know where to go at practice. We have to establish a work ethic this week.” 

McLellan also used sarcasm in saying the Oilers took a "Players' Association day" for the game meaning his team in essence had a mandated day off. 

The Flames also out-possesed the Oilers to a  large degree in the third period, holding a 69.23 CF% 5-on-5 in the final frame, a stretch where they scored three goals to put the Oilers away.

The Oilers have lost five of six games and are currently tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the worst record in the NHL. Edmonton has a good chance to win the No. 1 overall pick for the fifth time in seven seasons.

In the past, such saber rattling may not have worked with the Oilers. The team went through five coaches from 2009-10 through last season and the belief was the players ran the show with the team.

That’s not the case with McLellan, who has a history of winning and job security. This will be just the second year in eight seasons McLellan won’t make the playoffs.

“Not that we didn’t think that of the coaches before, but when a coach comes in that has Todd’s pedigree and his experience, you certainly know he’s going to be here, probably longer than a lot of the players,” forward Taylor Hall told Puck Daddy in late February. “That’s definitely a huge thing and you respect that for sure.”

Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli promised changes to his team’s core in the offseason. McLellan's comments probably won't have much to do with Chiarelli's plans in the summer. They show a coach who, near the end of the season, senses a teaching moment for the young group. At very least his words seem to be another indication that old habits won't be tolerated. Or they're coming from a bench boss who is tired of a team that hasn't bought into his system yet. 

When McLellan was hired by Edmonton, in his introductory news conference, he knew the team was going to be a challenge and test his patience. 

"We’re trying to take those painful nights and diminish them throughout the years to the point where we can be at the top of the mountain. But to come in and say ‘we’re going to win the Stanley Cup next year’, that’s not the case," McLellan said last May. "We have to make sure that product and those players are driving it upwards.  There will be hills and valleys but over time it needs to keep going upwards." 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

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