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BLOG: McLellan slowing things down

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

Todd McLellan had a lot of success in San Jose as their head coach. He said yesterday that the Oilers are in their “infancy” compared to McLellan’s Sharks teams because he had seven years there. This is his first with the Oilers so there is a lot of teaching and installation of principles.

McLellan is very vocal on the ice and in full control of all the teaching that goes on at practice. He is very hands-on and direct with the players, while offering both encouragement and chastisement when necessary. The coach says he hasn’t had to change his coaching habits much, but has had to go back to some basics in his teaching.

You can notice this at practice when he taps the brakes and slows things down to stress the importance of a drill or piece of the power play, etc.

“We’ve had to revert. We’ve had to go back,” said McLellan. “(Sharks GM) Doug Wilson always used to tell me, and he’s a very smart man, and he understood that it’s not what the teacher knows, it’s what the students absorb. We could get ahead of ourselves sometimes as teachers, but if the class isn’t keeping up or we’re leaving two or three behind it’s not going to be very effective. A lot of the principles are the same, a lot of the ideas are the same, but slow it down sometimes and make sure we get the basics before we move on. The players have been probably too respectful when they’re not sure about things. They’re not knocking on the door yet and saying, ‘hey, what about this?’ or ‘the group doesn’t understand that.’ That will come with time. They’ll learn that the door is wide open and we like to talk about things. We’re not going to hold that against them ever and we’ll clarify things moving forward.”

The players like McLellan’s approach.

“He is hands-on. It’s great,” said defenceman Justin Schultz. “You’re always on your toes and he’s very intense, which I think players like. Practices have been great. I think we’re getting a lot better just from practices. We all love playing for him and it’s been good so far.”

Slowing things down has been beneficial to the team according to Schultz, who says McLellan’s teachings in practice will translate into improved performance on the ice.

“You can’t (slow things down) in a game and that’s what practices are for,” said Schultz. “You kind of slow it down and you know where you want to be or are supposed to be. It just helps you when you come into a game just remembering that practice an what you’ve got to do.”

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