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McLellan aims to build the ‘mental strength’ of the Oilers

Todd McLellan, Peter Chiarelli

Todd McLellan, Peter Chiarelli


Today was another day for niceties in Edmonton, where the Oilers held their latest press conference to announce their latest big hire.

This time, it was for new head coach Todd McLellan.

And because today was a day reserved for niceties, allow us to translate what McLellan really said when asked what he thought of the Oilers teams he’d coached against during his days with the Sharks:

They were mentally weak.

They gave up too easily.

They lacked heart.

Hey, he said it. We’re just the translators here.

“I think there were games where, if you could get off to a good start and push them out of the game, and get to the mental aspect of them not being in it for the whole night, you thought you had a chance to succeed,” said McLellan.

“That’s something we’ll have to change. There’s going to be games where it’s not going your way, but you’re not out of it. You have to fight through it and you have to keep going.

“They haven’t had a lot of success as far as wins and losses go, so you have to find other ways to build that mental strength. That comes before the games are even played. That comes in practice. That comes in meetings. That comes in being good teammates. So we have some things to work on.”

Now, there will be those who question whether the former head coach of the San Jose Sharks is the right man to strengthen the mental resolve of a hockey team. And come to think of it, that’s a pretty fair thing to question, given the...well, you know. But McLellan had a lot of success in San Jose. He went to the playoff six times, and the Sharks won five postseason series. That’s a pretty good record, all things considered.

GM Peter Chiarelli said today that McLellan has been successful at instilling “confidence, energy, and discipline” in the players he’s coached.

Given those are not three words we’ve come to associate with recent Oilers teams, McLellan is right when he says, “We have some things to work on.”

Connor McDavid will probably help.

Related: Chiarelli named Oilers’ GM and president of hockey ops