It was only a matter of time.
The San Jose Sharks and head coach Todd McLellan have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced Monday morning.
And McLellan is eager to find work with another NHL team for next season, something he described as a new adventure.
Assistant coaches Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft and video coordinator Brett Heimlich were relieved of their duties. Associate coach Larry Robinson moved into his full-time role of director of player development at the conclusion of the 2014-15 regular season.
McLellan, who had one year left on his contract with San Jose, immediately becomes a valuable free-agent coach. He hops on a plane Friday to serve as bench boss for Team Canada in the IIHF world championship tournament in Europe.
He has been linked in reports as a candidate for the vacant head-coaching jobs in Toronto and Philadelphia. He may also be pursued by Buffalo, Boston and Edmonton, as the Oilers have yet to commit to interim head coach Todd Nelson and the Bruins have left Claude Julien in limbo.
“I have no idea if they’re interested in Todd McLellan, first of all,” Mclellan said of the open gigs, on a Sharks-arranged conference call. “I’ll be open to anything, really.”
“I want to thank Todd and his staff for their years of service to the San Jose Sharks organization,” general manager Doug Wilson said in a press release. “Sometimes a change is best for all parties involved, but nothing will take away from what Todd and his staff accomplished here over the last seven seasons.”
McLellan said that a contract extension with the Sharks, a team he characterizes as “clearly rebuilding,” was never discussed.
The 47-year-old McLellan failed to qualify for the post-season as a coach for the first time this season.
During McLellan’s tenure, the Sharks made seven consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2008-09, and reached the conference final twice, in 2010 and 2011.
“San Jose will always hold a special place for me and my family,” said McLellan, He thanked the Sharks and described Monday as tough day emotionally.
The native of Melville, Sask., was named head coach of the Sharks on June 12, 2008. He leaves as the franchise leader in wins (311), games coached (540) and points percentage (.637), with an overall record of 311-163-66.
Last week, during the Sharks’ locker clean-out, McLellan said he needed to discuss whether to return to San Jose with his family.
“Todd has to talk to his family,” Sharks veteran Joe Thornton told reporters. “Maybe he should talk to this family as well in here. We’ll see what happens.”
McLellan reiterated Monday that he had expected the Sharks to be a playoff team expressed and that he holds teh former Sharks captain in high regard.
“There will be a day when he’s put into the Hall of Fame,” McLellan said. “I have a ton of respect for Joe Thornton.”