Mclel­lan ad­mired by his both Kings and Oil­ers play­ers

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - JIM MATHE­SON jmath­e­[email protected] @Nhlbymatty

Coaches are paid to coach, not make friends with the play­ers, but some­times you can do both.

Todd Mclel­lan has found a mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion so­ci­ety with his cur­rent Los An­ge­les Kings play­ers and his former Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers guys, who were talk­ing about him rev­er­en­tially, in para­graph not sen­tence form be­fore the two clubs met Satur­day night at Rogers Place

“Man, I love the way Todd coaches. I don’t un­der­stand how it didn’t work for him here,” said Kings Nor­ris tro­phy win­ner Drew Doughty, who prob­a­bly asked around and knows that the former gen­eral man­ager Peter Chiarelli fired Mclel­lan to try and buy some time with his own shaky job sit­u­a­tion last Novem­ber.

“Todd’s the most teach­ing coach I’ve ever had in the NHL. He teaches ev­ery lit­tle thing,” said Doughty. “I haven’t had too many coaches like that, like with Dar­ryl (Sut­ter), he was more of a mo­ti­va­tor guy.”

“I’ve never been so ex­cited to start a hockey sea­son and ev­ery­one’s feel­ing the same en­ergy," said Doughty, who is an older dog, but more than will­ing to learn new tricks. "We’ve been play­ing the same sys­tem for about 11 years I’ve been here and it’s ac­tu­ally fun to learn new things. I was so used to every­thing be­fore. I knew it in my head and now I have to start think­ing ‘OK, what do I do?’ Keeps you more di­alled in.”

Mclel­lan ob­vi­ously likes to hear Doughty’s opin­ion, with a caveat.

“I don’t think they’ve (Kings play­ers) seen many bad days yet, let’s see what Drew’s say­ing when it’s pretty ugly,” laughed Mclel­lan. “But to hear a player and de­fence­man of Drew’s stature say he’s re­ally com­fort­able, that’s great. That said, I’ll poke and push him all the time. There’s go­ing to be some days where he’s not so happy with the coach but it’s good to have that re­la­tion­ship early.”

Kyle Clif­ford, part of two Cup-win­ning teams in LA along with Doughty, only knew Mclel­lan from afar, but he echoed Doughty’s com­ments.

“Un­be­lie­ve­able com­mu­ni­ca­tor, re­ally easy to un­der­stand what he wants you to do and why he wants you do so. The why def­i­nitely helps a lot of play­ers, es­pe­cially when we’re go­ing through changes,” he said.

In the Oil­ers dress­ing room the words from Leon Drai­saitl and Con­nor Mcdavid were from the heart, and their words also ring the loud­est.

“Todd chal­lenged me to chal­lenge Con­nor. I know that Con­nor is Con­nor and Con­nor is the best player in the world,” said Drai­saitl. “But that’s the in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion that he and I have al­ways had and it’s made us bet­ter play­ers. It’s al­ways been pos­i­tive and we ended up play­ing to­gether. Yeah, Todd wanted me to push for that (com­pe­ti­tion).”

Same story, same ap­pre­ci­a­tion, dif­fer­ent voice from Mcdavid.

“When I was younger, es­pe­cially my rookie year, Todd was re­ally pa­tient with me,” said Mcdavid. “He gave me great op­por­tu­ni­ties to be suc­cess­ful and there were a lot of nights I thought I didn’t de­serve my next shift but he kept putting me out there. I def­i­nitely ap­pre­ci­ate that.”

Every­body likes to hear you did a good job. Mclel­lan’s no dif­fer­ent.

“To hear what Con­nor and Leon are say­ing re­ally means a lot to me," said Mclel­lan. "I hope I had some im­pact on the mould­ing of their ca­reer and they’ve had re­ally good coaches and they have one now (Dave Tip­pett) who’ll con­tinue that process and who knows maybe some day I’ll be sit­ting at the Hall of Fame when they’re both en­ter­ing it. I hope that hap­pens,” he said.

Mclel­lan tried Mcdavid and Drai­saitl on dif­fer­ent lines while run­ning the show here but kept com­ing back to the tag-team on the same line. Be­cause they were vir­tu­ally un­stop­pable on lots of nights.

“If you want my opin­ion if they’re bet­ter to­gether or apart? I hope they’re apart when you’re coach­ing against them…they’re a dy­namic duo,” said Mclel­lan.

When asked if Mclel­lan would be fit for a mo­tor­cy­cle jacket and hel­met or what­ever cer­e­mo­nial thing goes to the most im­pact­ful piece of a game if the Kings were to beat the Oil­ers, Doughty said; "nah, we don’t do any of that crappy stuff. When the game’s over, we put on our win­ning song and cel­e­brate and bit and move on.”

“But we want to win this for Todd.”

When I was younger, es­pe­cially my rookie year, Todd was re­ally pa­tient with me. He gave me great op­por­tu­ni­ties to be suc­cess­ful.”

Oil­ers cap­tain Con­nor Mcdavid


IAN Kucerak/ POSTMEDIA file

Todd Mclel­lan

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