Oilers head coach Todd McLellan spoke with the media following practice on Friday about being named head coach of the Under-23 Team North America at next fall's World Cup of Hockey.
“It’s an exciting opportunity. I had such a great experience this past spring in the Czech Republic with the National Team. It left such a good taste in my mouth to be around the players and to have a chance at success. I’m looking forward to this opportunity," said McLellan, adding he hasn't had a lot of time to think about it. "It’s so far away, I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. Obviously, all the time and energy I’ve got is being put towards what I’ve got going on here and that’s something that will continue to be our focus and needs to be our focus going forward.”
McLellan was asked if he felt it might be a disadvantage for him to be away from the team for a majority of training camp next year while being away in Toronto coaching the Under-23 squad. His answer was two-fold.
“I feel, with having a staff that’s familiar with myself — coming from San Jose is a benefit. We’ll be a year into the program," McLellan began. "We should be polished, or at least working towards advancing our game and our program so I feel good about that.”
He also added that the way the schedule works out, the opening round ends on September 22. Only the top-two groups out of four advance from each pool and NHL Training Camps are set to commence immediately after that, on September 23.
“From a selfish standpoint, you hope you miss training camp because that means the young team has played very well in that tournament. But if it doesn’t have success, I think we can be back for opening day of training camp as well," he said. "The NHL and the Player’s Association have done a good job — Hockey Canada, USA Hockey and the rest of the federations — of planning the tournament and setting it up so a lot of players and coaches can be back if they don’t have success.”
The Oilers head coach was also asked about coaching a younger team. He pointed out that it's not a lot different from what he's doing right now here in Edmonton.
“It will be, when you compare it to the World Championships, but not a lot different from what we have going on here. You’ve got Reinhart and Connor and Nuge and Leon and Darnell Nurse. Those types of young players that are involved in the organization.
“It’s a pool of players that we’re going to be growing up with over the next three or four years.”