Well this is certainly an interesting twist.
Yesterday there were multiple reports that suggested that former Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan was the number one target of the Los Angeles Kings and in fact had already engaged in some negotiations with that organization. Now however it appears as though McLellan has made a different choice and will be signing with a completely different team, this time moving his way out of the National Hockey League' Western Conference and into the Eastern Conference.
According to a breaking news report from Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic, his sources have now informed him that McLellan is closing in on a deal to take over as the next head coach of the Buffalo Sabres organization. How close? Well according to Duhatschek it sounds like this deal could be announced as early as tomorrow which would indicate that they are very close to coming to terms indeed.
McLellan of course was most recently the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers prior to being fired early on during the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season. There is no question that the team failed to deliver while he was behind the bench of that organization, but many have been quick to place the blame for those failures on the shoulders of management rather than the shoulders of the coach himself. When you consider some of the frankly atrocious moves that were made by former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli during McLellan's time in Edmonton, it does really become hard to fault McLellan for not doing more with what was a fairly poor roster.
It seems that at least the Los Angeles Kings and the Buffalo Sabres both believe that McLellan remains a talented head coach as both teams were reportedly in the hunt for him, although based on this latest report it sounds like the Kings' may be out of luck. Buffalo of course announced just yesterday that they would be firing head coach Phil Housley after a catastrophic end to the season for the Sabres. There were reports that Botterill was not thrilled at the prospect of letting Housley go, but the fact that the Sabres failed to pick up even a single regulation win in all of March may have forced his hand.
It remains to be seen how McLellan will perform in Buffalo, but thus far the reaction to this announcement from the Buffalo Sabres fan base has been overwhelmingly negative.
Update: TSN insider Bob McKenzie has thrown some cold water on Duhatschek's report stating that he believes the Kings remain in the mix.