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Todd McLellan debuts as Kings coach against Edmonton Oilers

Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan talks to players during the second period of the team's preseason NHL hockey game against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).
Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan talks to players during the second period of the team's preseason NHL hockey game against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez). AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Todd McLellan returns to Edmonton Saturday night when his L.A. Kings meet the Oilers at Roger Place.

McLellan had a record of 123-119-24 behind the Oilers bench before being fired on November 20, 2018.

“It really doesn’t matter for me,” said McLellan when asked about getting his return to Edmonton out of the way early in the season.

“It’s more important for our team to get a game under their belt and for us to have an evaluation tool.”

READ MORE: Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson out for 6-8 weeks due to broken foot

Under McLellan, the Oilers made their only playoff appearance of the last 13 seasons. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl also established themselves as two of the best offensive players in the NHL.

“He challenged me to challenge Connor. I know that Connor is the best player in the world, but I think that’s the internal competition that me and him always had and made us better players,” said Draisaitl.

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“Todd was the guy who wanted me to push for that,” he said.

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READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers come back in third to beat Canucks in season opener

McDavid said that McLellan gave him ‘every opportunity’ to be successful.

“Especially my rookie year, he was always just really patient with me,

“There were a lot of nights I probably didn’t deserve my next shift, but he kept putting me out there. I definitely really appreciate that,” said McDavid.

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“That’s rewarding,” said McLellan. “To hear Connor and Leon speak that way means a lot to me. It really does. I hope I had some impact on the molding of their careers. They’re going to have real good coaches. They have one now that’s going to continue that process. Maybe someday I’ll be sitting at the Hall of Fame dinner when they’re both entering it. I hope that happens.”

The Oilers will be trying to build off Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Vancouver. Their expected lineup is:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian

Nygard – Nugent-Hopkins – Neal

Khaira – Cave – P. Russell

Granlund – Haas – Jurco

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Klefbom – Persson

Nurse – Bear

K. Russell – Benning

Smith

Catch the Oilers and Kings on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 6:30 p.m. The game starts at 8 p.m.