Having endured a nightmare that’s produced cold sweats for seasons on end, fans of the Edmonton Oilers are daring to dream these days. To understate in the extreme, it’s an overdue and welcome change of fortune, and there might be more to come.

Just two weeks ago, fans were bracing themselves for another summer of angst and frustration after a 28th place finish and more of the same old, same old from the Oilers. We were destined, it seemed, for another off-season of discontent. Then, the dominos started to fall.

The giddy roll began April 18 when Bill Daly turned over that gold card with the Oiler logo on it, giving Edmonton the first overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft and the right to select Connor McDavid, touted as a generational talent. You celebrated and fist-pumped like hell while fans and some media types in 29 other cities moaned and whined about the injustice of it all.

Then, on April 24, big boss Bob Nicholson announced Kevin Lowe was being bumped off as POHO, GM Craig MacTavish was being demoted and Peter Chiarelli was taking over both positions. We expected Nicholson’s “forensic audit” to produce lip service. We expected Daryl Katz’s friends to keep their jobs. Then, kaboom, real change. I didn’t see that coming.

Now, the Oilers are looking for a head coach and we’re led to believe the two leading candidates are Todd McLellan and Mike Babcock – think about that for a moment – and nobody is laughing out loud at the possibility one of them will fill the position.

A possibility that seemed nothing more than a bad joke or pie-in-the-sky not long ago, TSN’s Bob McKenzie said Thursday that he believes Edmonton to be the likeliest landing spot for Babcock, if he chooses to leave the Detroit Red Wings for a new challenge. Not a single guffaw was heard.



“If I were ranking the possibilities for Mike Babcock outside of Detroit, take Detroit out of the equation, I would put Edmonton at Number 1, no question,” McKenzie said. “The number one criteria, I think, for Mike Babcock would be who he is working for. I think it always is to some degree for a head coach to want to know who (the) general manager or owner is. Who is he reporting to?”

Added McKenzie: “I think the Bob Nicholson factor, with Chiarelli there, and obviously there’s some connection between Chiarelli and Babcock vis-a-vis the Olympics, but it’s more probably Bob Nicholson than anybody else, I think that is huge.

“Also the fact, and it’s not just Connor McDavid, but for all the jokes we make about the Edmonton Oilers, and rightfully so because they’ve been a tire fire for eight or nine years now, the reality is as you look at that team, while they still have significant pieces to put together, goaltending, defense, this thing is a lot closer to coming together than falling apart . . .”

One need only look at the comment section on this website or others like it to put some context to the turn of events we’ve seen so far. McDavid instead of Noah Hanifin or Dylan Strome. Lowe out and Chiarelli in instead of more talk about patience from MacTavish. McLellan or Babcock as the leading candidates to coach a team that two seasons ago hired Dallas Eakins.

Yes, there remains much work to do to return the Oilers to contention, but when you factor in all the above, not to mention talk Edmonton has become a more attractive destination for free agents not named Nikita Nikitin and that the new rink is taking shape, optimism abounds. When’s the last time Oiler fans didn’t feel like Wile E. Coyote waiting on the Acme anvil?


I, like many of you, was quick to say after the lottery win that we should be wary of mistaking good luck for an actual game plan. MacTavish was still in charge at that point and we were expecting less-than-a-lot to come from the audit done by Nicholson. Now, Chiarelli will call the shots.

Now, with word from Chiarelli at the World Championship in Prague today that MacTavish will be staying on as his second-in-command, we wait on McLellan, who is coaching Team Canada, and Babcock, who will meet with Detroit GM Ken Holland and owner Mike Illitch in the next day or two. 

Of course, there’s a chance that neither McLellan nor Babcock will end up standing behind Edmonton’s bench next season. Babcock might opt to stay in Detroit or see an opportunity he prefers elsewhere. McLellan might be a better bet and he’s far from a consolation prize.

The bottom line is Chiarelli is already here, McDavid is on the way and no matter how it plays out, Edmonton is in the running for McLellan and Babcock. It’s been forever and a day since the Oilers were in that position. That much we all know.



Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun reported this morning that Chiarelli has convinced MacTavish to stay on as his No. 2 man in hockey ops.

“He’ll be No. 2 in all aspects,” Chiarelli told Jones. “He’ll be my eyes and ears in all areas. I want to have strong people with strong opinions.” The entire item is here.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • B_Oliver

    Nurse had a great PK shift, he robbed McDavid then skated down the ice and shot it on net. Then the Greyhounds went on the powerplay and Nurse on a monster point shot scored

      • B_Oliver

        Most were short handed. The Refs have been calling so many penalties on the Soo. Nurse was really tired in the third he has been playing drew doughty minutes for the Soo all playoffs. Stauffer said he played 30+ minutes plus in games 4 and 5. IDK how much Nurse has played tonight but he’s been on the ice the whole game it seems like so probably 25+ minutes again. You can expect some goals against going up against 4+ McDavid powerplays…

          • 5 Cups

            Worried about the Oilers when your teams in the playoffs (well for 3 more games anyway).

            McDavid is in your head. Nurse is in your head. The Oilers are in your head. That’s why your here- lol.

          • Kevwan

            Playoffs for a team in year 2 of a rebuild. Pretty sweet. But, really the Oilers are in year 1 of phase 4, so you guys are looking good. Hear MacT has Ciarelli convinced to put Bucky on the coaching short list.

          • Kevwan

            And yet you’re here. A fan of the team with Engelland playing 1st pairing is trashing Nurse as a prospect?

            And Nurse is way better than Ellerby although Ellerby would be an upgrade on Engelland.

            Your desperation and jealousy of the Oilers puts a smile on my face.

            But whatever enjoy watching little Johnny on the bench when the Ducks start playing too rough lmao.

            You’re entertaining but I’m getting bored of this troll feeding.

          • Kevwan

            20 year old going minus 3 in an elimination game versus a bunch of 17-18 year olds. Sounds like your new top pairing def. Johnny got benched even though he is a point a game in the playoffs ( that’s for teams that win some games)and challenged. If that were yak or Hall, their agent would be demanding a trade. But, they are never held accountable.

          • Oil4Brains

            If the goal of ur rebuild was to be an average team that barely makes the playoffs each year than congratulations – you’ve done it. The way I see it ur Shames are no better than before the Iggy trade. But I guess that’s satisfying.

            Our goal is the build a perennial Stanley Cup contender which takes a more time.

            Enjoy ur short lived payoff appearance cause we’ll be lighting the Shames up for the next 20 years.

          • Oil4Brains

            Led by a 20 and 21 year old forward now being joined by an 18 year old who has scored more in 7 playoff games than the slow German. Def anchored by s 24 and 25 year old and many more coming. You are funny. I guess they won’t get better yet? Lol at least they are dominating all the Oiler stars? Hall has been in the league 6 years and scored 14. Yak got 14. You have a team that has drafted at the top for a decade and they just had their worst year.

  • B_Oliver

    BTW Connor McDavid has 42 points in 15 playoff games. This kid is going to be a force in the NHL. Give him gravy zone starts with hallsy and watch the points rack up. Put him on the top powerplay unit with Nuge and Eb’s…I don’t even know if I can guess a limit to his rookie season points..fully healthy…playing lets say 80 games… who knows maybe 70 points? 30 goals 40 assists? Some body wake me up…

  • Kevwan

    This is the same Craig MacTavish that wasted the only thing Steve Tambellini left him – cap space – by signing horrendous contracts for Andrew Ference, Keith Aulie, Luke Gazdic, Justin Schultz, icing the worst defense in the NHL and then blaming Devan Dubnyk (Vezina and Hart-worthy Devan Dubnyk) for the team’s inability to keep pucks out of the net. He “fixed” that problem by adding 6th defenseman Nikita Nikitin and expecting him to be a top pairing guy, then blaming Jeff Petry when the team couldn’t keep pucks out of the net.

    MacTavish single-handedly put the team on the brink of a cap disaster and somehow made the Oilers worse in doing so.

  • B_Oliver

    Nurse is a beast and seems to never get tierd. McDaved is on a whole other level but if he can uses Nurse’s workout routine maybe he will be unstoppable.

  • Rdubb

    I don’t understand why everyone keeps on talking about Todd Mclellan coming and being Edmontons next coach?
    Seriously, what has he done? Yes, his team won the Presidents trophy (twice i do think), and they’ve had always been in the playoffs and had great regular seasons, but then what happened to his teams? They got BOUNCED!
    Heck, I could have coached those teams to the playoffs, anyone could have. When you have loads of top end forwards @ every position, when you have guys who are leaders in the room and on the ice, when you have legit #1, #2, #3,#4 defencemen, all of whom could play the PP and PK, plus you had d who could shut down the oppositions top guys, had rugged rough D, plus you’ve always had a true #1 tender plus a capable backup, how could you not make the playoffs? McLellan basically had everything that the Oilers didn’t have. Yes, we have a few young skilled forwards, but they had nobody to learn from where as the Sharks up and comers always had top level talent and leaders to learn from.
    In my opinion I think Coach Nelson did an extremely adequate job for the talent he had, the position the were in, the players that were traded away, the amount of injuries he had to deal with, the AHL calibre of defence going against NHL forwards, and goalies who are more or less then AHL calibre, and what did Nelson do? Well, he had a record of 17-22-5 (or something near that), he changed the identity of the room, he changed their system of play mid-season, he improved the PP right away, and he got a ton out of the guys, and in a few cases, resurrected a few careers, now, is that not coaching? Is that not a coach you’d want to coach your team?
    Yes, McDavid is coming and will be great, but who says Nelson can’t do the same thing with him as he did the Oiler star players the second half of the season?
    i feel like Nelson has proven himself and should be considered @ the least for the head coaching job, but I don’t hear many giving him a chance, why? The sun did a poll and the fans voted @ 85% to keep Nelson. Almost to a man the players want him back. And when the players played like they did under him, maybe the new GM should listen to those who improved ten fold over Eakins.
    Nelson is the right man for this job, not only for what he was able to do last yr with what he was given, but also because he has coached the farm team for a number of years, and knows most the guys, has their respect, knows what they can do and where they can go.
    Sign Nelson to a 2yr deal and not a 4 yr deal. Give the guy a shot, he has been loyal to this organization and the organization should be loyal back. Hiring a new coach again will only add to the carousel of coaches. My guess is if McLellan is hired, he’ll be fired with 2 seasons, and the management will be kicking themselves because they had the right guy already at one point…

    • Oil4Brains

      The Oilers will not win until they get their goals against down. Eakins was a hardass, and the players wouldn’t play for him. They liked Kruger who let them play pretty much as they wanted, but their goals against were still the highest in the league, and the lack of discipline ultimately resulted in Kruger’s firing. The players do seem to like Nelson, but goals against didn’t improve under him, and the lazy/non-existent backchecking and sloppy play in the defensive zone remains appalling. The Oilers need a coach who will install discipline and accountability. IMHO, I don’t believe that Nelson is that man.

      • Oil4Brains

        From a management point of view Nelson would be the best man for the job in terms of taking the pressure off of getting a number one goalie and top pairing defens-man, because when trying to land one of these top coachs the first things they’ll demand before choosing Edmonton is are you guys going to get me thes things.

        Nelson will knows the team better then a new coach will and uses his goalies the right way by playing the hot one also he had the players improving under him. If theres one hit on Nelson it’s that he didn’t sit Shultz but that may not been up for him to decide, money talks.

    • harborman

      Couldn’t agree more. It will be very interesting to see if Yak, Lander, Klefbom and others keep improving like they did under Nelson, or regress under a new coach.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Jenny Hockey™ looked as anxious to play against the Ducks as Brian Burke looks forward to going to his barber. Derek Engelland just remembered he is …. Well ….. Derek Engelland. Without Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan’s game looks pretty boring.

    A team makes it to the second round of playoffs with the worst possssion numbers since Jim Corsi broke out his slide rule. Be prepared next year for a reality check that makes the Avs fall from grace this year look like a slight hiccup.

    The “cardiac kids” have flatlined. The Flames don’t need a doctor. They need a magician.

    But good news Flambé fans, every second year you will have 3 chances to see McD et al play in that cesspool you call an arena. You are truly blessed. So Clyde, Clem, Cletus, whatever the hell your name is: make sure you put your top AND bottom dentures in and wear your formal tank top – because be assured it is a big deal.

    Oh and Good Luck tonight. Hope the Getzlaf-Perry flu that Gaudreau picked up isn’t contagious.

    • Burnward

      So,you are saying that in year 3 of the rebuild the Flames will fall back. I actually agree with that. And,they get to run over another 18 year old from the team on year 10and still behind them. Guess we agree.