It was the first day of training camp and if you didn't see him, you heard him. From the bench, the penalty box, the zamboni entrance, the concession stands and, quite likely, the parking lot. That's how loud Todd McLellan was on the opening day of training camp. It was clear that the new coach wanted to let everyone know who he is and what he is about on the ice. First day you might think, and I was one of them, that it would be an ease-in process for everyone to get to know each other and the intensity would pick up from there. That would end up being a big mistake in assessing McLellan's coaching debut with the Edmonton Oilers.
The intensity of his verbiage may have been attention grabbing, but it wasn't a madman on a rampage. I don't think I have ever seen so much teaching at any practice, let alone the opening practice of the season. He would get their attention and then turn it towards where a stick should be on a PK, how to better handle a breakout attempt or where to go when the forecheck is on. There were constant starts and stops. Teach a point, put it into practice. Learn a lesson, and onward the skate would go with more knowledge being dispersed to the players. It was a never ending example of McLellan putting his imprint on a team… his team.
I know Todd McLellan. I've seen him countless times, listened to him speak and have watched him work the San Jose bench for seven seasons. Yet I feel like I really got to know him on the first day of Oilers training camp and have continued to get to know him ever since. It's one thing to be the opposing coach of the Edmonton Oilers. It's much different to actually be the coach of the Oilers. I have seen him in a much different light in just one week. This guy is all talk and action. He knows what he's talking about and he wants the players to listen. They have and should.
After all the turnover behind the Edmonton Oilers bench the team has the right man, at the right time to do the right job. After what many of the current Oilers have gone through, McLellan is a ray of hope to help bring everyone together. Connor McDavid was the biggest off-season move, but even he needs a coach. In fact, they all do. Someone who has been around, been a winner and has the respect of those he works for and works with. Now he is with Edmonton and while the vocal cords continue to get a workout, McLellan has made his point about grasping his concepts of success.
A humble man from small-town beginnings who has been thrust into coaching a 'generational' player on a team pushing for respectability. The Oilers bench boss joked that every year (8) that he's been a head coach in the NHL he's lost his voice in training camp. However this one is about what he's gained. The minds of individuals and the understanding of a group who wants to win. They didn't know how to get there but Todd McLellan is intent on showing them the way.