Kevin McClelland, born July 4th, 1962, enters his 10th season as a professional head coach and fifth year in Wichita. He was introduced as the 12th Head Coach in franchise history on April 26th, 2010. During his tenure, McClelland has led the Thunder to back-to-back CHL Finals appearances. He took over a nine-win team in 2009-10 and turned things around quickly, winning 34 games in 2010-11. The following season (2011-12), McClelland took the team to a 44-19-3 record and clinched the Bud Poile Governors’ Cup as the league’s regular season point’s champion. He was named the CHL Coach of the Year for the second time in his coaching career that same season. His first came back in 2007 when he won the award as the Head Coach of the Memphis RiverKings. He ranks sixth all-time in the CHL in wins (331) and seventh in games coached (584).
A native of Oshawa, Ontario, McClelland won Stanley Cups with Edmonton in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Originally a fourth round draft pick of the Hartford Whalers in 1980, McClelland also spent time in the NHL with the Penguins, Red Wings, Maple Leafs, and Jets. Interestingly, the Oilers acquired McClelland from Pittsburgh in 1983 in exchange for former Thunder champion Tom Roulston. McClelland spent seven years in Edmonton, eclipsing 200 PIM in four straight seasons from 1984-1988. McClelland scored the lone goal in Game One of the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals, helping to set the tone in the series against the vaunted New York Islanders, who had defeated the Oilers in the finals the year before. Many view this goal as a turning point in NHL history.
When his playing career ended in 1995, McClelland served as an Assistant Coach for the OHL’s Barrie Colts during the 1997-98 season. The following year, McClelland took over as Head Coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, compiling a 71-55-11 (.531) record over two seasons. McClelland returned to the professional ranks in 2000, this time as an Assistant Coach for the AHL’s St. John’s Maple Leafs. After five years in St. John’s, McClelland was named Head Coach of the Memphis RiverKings in 2005.
The RiverKings were 22-37-5 in McClelland’s first season, but completed one of the greatest turnarounds in CHL history the following year. Under McClelland’s guidance, Memphis improved by 35 points in 2006-07 with an overall record of 39-19-6. In the playoffs, the RiverKings knocked off Oklahoma City and Bossier-Shreveport en route to the Northern Conference Finals where they lost to eventual CHL champion Colorado in six games. For his efforts, McClelland was named the CHL’s 2007 Coach of the year. ‘Mac’ and the RiverKings again won 39 games in 2007-08 before getting edged by Texas in a tight three-game series in the opening round of the playoffs.
McClelland spent the next two seasons as Head Coach of the Colorado Eagles. The Eagles were the winningest team in the CHL during McClelland’s tenure. The Eagles won the Governor’s Cup in 2008-09, with a CHL-best 45-15-4 regular season record. The Northwest Division-winning Eagles burned through Bossier-Shreveport in their first playoff series and then knocked off the RiverKings, McClelland’s former team, to claim the Northern Conference championship. McClelland fell short of winning his first title as a head coach when the Brahmas defeated the Eagles in five games in the 2009 President’s Cup Finals. The Eagles went 42-15-7 under McClelland in 2009-10, the third best overall record in the league. It marked the fourth consecutive year McClelland guided a CHL team to the postseason.
Kevin McClelland was introduced as the 12th Head Coach in Wichita Thunder history on April 26th, 2010 during a press conference at the INTRUST Bank Arena. McClelland made his Thunder debut on October 15th, 2010 at Tulsa, and earned his first Thunder victory on October 29th vs. Rio Grande Valley. McClelland earned his 200th career win on December 29th at Quad City.
With McClelland at the helm, the Thunder have compiled a 144-94-26 record in 264 regular-season games. He is tied for second all-time in winning percentage in Thunder history (.595) and equaled the team’s most wins in one season during the Thunder’s run to their first CHL Finals appearance in 14 years in 2011-12. It was also the third-best single-season winning percentage in team history (.689).
McClelland now resides in Wichita with his wife Wendy and their three sons, Jack, and twins Max and Matt.