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Todd McLellan calls Sabres' coaching vacancy a 'really good job'

The saga of Todd McLellan's courtship officially came to an end Wednesday when he was introduced as the next coach of the Los Angeles Kings.

McLellan, 51, expressed confidence in General Manager Rob Blake's plan to revitalize an organization with few prospects of note and an NHL roster that won only 31 games this season, while denying that lifestyle or weather factored into his decision.

The news conference capped a whirlwind week in which an incorrect report had McLellan set to replace Phil Housley as coach of the Buffalo Sabres.

Though TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the Sabres never extended a formal job offer, McLellan acknowledged to the Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott on Wednesday that he interviewed for the vacancy and spoke highly of the organization.

"It was a great experience," McLellan, who was in Buffalo last week to watch his son, Tyson, compete in the NCAA Frozen Four, said. "I can tell you whoever gets that job will have a great ownership group and a management group to work with. They’ve got a tremendous pool of assets and it will be a really good job."

McLellan led the Edmonton Oilers to the playoffs once during his three-plus tenure there and was fired abruptly after a 9-10-1 start to this season. He also led the San Jose Sharks to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, including back-to-back Western Conference Final appearances.

Although McLellan had a 123-119-24 during his time in Edmonton, he led the Sharks to their first Presidents' Trophy during his first season in 2008-09, and he was the franchise's all-time leader in coaching wins when his tenure ended after the 2014-15 season.

The Oilers would miss the playoffs in McLellan's first season but had a 16-win improvement in 2016-17 to earn their first postseason appearance in 11 years. They also earned home-ice advantage for the first time since 1990. Edmonton won their first-round series against San Jose in six games and came within one win of reaching the Western Conference Final, losing to the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1, in Game 7.

McLellan joined Joel Quenneville (Florida) and Alain Vigneault (Philadelphia) as experienced coaches who are no longer available to the Sabres.

The Sabres have fired each of their past two coaches after only two seasons. Housley, a 55-year-old Hall of Fame defenseman, went 58-84-22 and the team's historic second-half collapse has their playoff drought at a league-high eight seasons. He was hired in June 2017 to replace Dan Bylsma, who went 68-73-23 and won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2008.

Jeff Skinner and Jason Pominville are the Sabres' only pending unrestricted free agents, and a young core that includes Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Dahlin is set to return next season. Botterill owns two first-round draft picks, including the seventh selection, and entered the offseason with roughly $23 million in salary cap space.

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