Craig Button shreds Peter Chiarelli

Over on TSN 1260, Craig Button appeared on Dean Millard’s show and did not mince words when it came to what’s wrong with the Oilers. Unlike other media members that are blaming the players, Button shot at the guy that built the team.

Big props to Rob Soria over at the Hockey Writers for being the first to find this beauty of an interview. 

While talking about the Oilers being fifteen shades of terrible is nothing new around here, what is new is a media member taking direct shots at Edmonton’s General Manager. When Craig Button was asked about what’s going wrong with the Oilers he didn’t exactly pull any punches.

“To me, (the Oilers) have massive problems.”

Tell me about, Craig. I’m the asshole eating cans of beets after every loss. Anyway, what are you seeing on your end?

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“When you are slow, you are always going to be chasing the puck and they are slow. I know Peter Chiarelli has talked about we need to play fast — playing fast is the new buzz phrase in hockey. Well… they can only play at a certain speed and, quite frankly, that speed is not up to the competition.”

BUT PETER CHIARELLI SAID THEY’RE NOT SLOW AND THAT THEY JUST HAVE TO PLAY FAST… whatever that means. I’m guessing you don’t buy that excuse, Craig?

“Until they address their speed problems, they are going to be chasing the puck all night long, giving up grade ‘A’ scoring chances. Outside of Connor McDavid, there is no other player on the Edmonton Oilers who threatens with speed.”

Oh man, this is going to get ugly, isn’t it? Connor is the only fast one on the team? I wrote about this once before and tried to pick out who the good skaters on the team are, but I definitely had more than one guy on my list. What about the rest of the guys?

“That leaves you with eleven forwards and that includes Draisaitl. He is not a fast player, he has quickness and is a solid player, but when we talk about straight up speed (he’s not quite there).”

I guess I never really thought about Leon as being slow — I’m more of a Lucic is slow guy — but I guess I can see what he’s getting at, maybe. Okay, so the team isn’t as fast as they once were but that’s hardly the root cause of what is going wrong around here. It can’t be. Being fast is one thing, but what about the way the team is put together?

“I’ll tell you what, when we are talking about the construction of a team, the composition of a team, and flaws in a team, that relate back to the type of players you have. It doesn’t fall on the equipment manager, it doesn’t fall on the PR guy, it doesn’t fall on the head coach — it falls on the general manager. That’s as simple as it works.”

Wait a minute. This is Chiarelli’s fault? You mean you wouldn’t blame the furniture if the roof of your house caved in? What a concept! I mean, that’s going to ruin a bunch of people’s theories that the coach is somehow to blame for this mess, but what are you gonna do? The dude can only play the guys he has on the roster.

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“The manager can say we can play faster but if the level of speed in the league is at a 100 km/h. The Oilers are playing at 95 and guess what? They can’t play higher than that.”

Alright, let’s move past the quickness thing for a minute because I think that excuse is flimsy. We’ve already established that they’re not fast enough but I want to know if there is hope for the Oilers. Give us some good news here, Craig.  Tell us everything is going to be fine and that they can turn it around. PLEASE!

“No, I don’t see this roster turning it around. In fact, I don’t see it in any way, shape or form turning it around. It has to come by player personnel (and) not one player, not two players. It’s got to change, you have to get faster players in there.”

What did I just say!? I said I wanted to move away from the team speed. Tell me it’s going to be okay, Craig. I need you here, pal. The sanity of a Nation depends on it.

“Quite frankly, (the Oilers) are going to start looking down the road here at some players they have on long-term contracts and consider what that means for their team as well.”

Gord dammit.

  • OilersBro

    Here’s what I would want PC to do if things don’t turn around:
    If we are out of a playoff spot by February, we can trade for prospect wingers with speed for our old rental UFAs. Maroon and Letestu have played well enough to have some trade value and can contribute to a cup run elsewhere.

    Plus contenders usually have injuries and lack defensive depth at that point of the year. Use that as an opportunity to get rid of Russell (his contract only gets cheaper from here on out & he doesn’t have a NMC right now) while he can help a contender make a run.

    For next year: that will let us keep Nuge while having guys like Yamo become NHL ready to fill the wing. Looch will consistently put up 50 points as a power forward and will earn his keep as Connor’s guard along with Pulu or Yamo.

    Then resign young (affordable) speed like Nurse/Benning/Cagguila/Strome while keeping tabs on the free agent market for wingers.

      • OilersBro

        Haha I definitely made a few assumptions; I just wanted to project the worst case scenario (missed playoffs) and base my assumptions off of historical play.
        Strome will put up his typical 35 points which is what you expect from a 3rd line centre. He also wont cost more than 2.5MM
        Lucic has always been able to score 50 and he actually got faster this year – he will be effective for years to come because powerforwards take longer to regress.
        Nuge’s game is worth the $6MM so it is a no brainer to keep him. He also still hasn’t peaked.
        Benning you can get on a bargain contract this off-season for under $2MM if he keeps his play steady. That’s not bad for a future 3-4D
        Nurse has raw athleticism, you can’t teach that. I’d be okay with a long term deal if the term is right.
        Drake brings both intensity and speed, he’s proven his ability to score and will be an affordable asset if he stays healthy.
        Yamo honestly could have stayed on the roster if we didn’t have to burn a year of his ELC – he’ll be even better next year.

        But off course, I am making the assumption that Pete is rational which… he isn’t.

        • nijames

          I don’t disagree with some of your points but the Lucic a laugh. He is too slow to play in the NHL these days. He can’t keep up to the pace of the game and he has 5 more years after this year. That was a terrible signing, maybe his $6 million for 4 years tops, the good teams laughed when he wanted a 7 year deal and let him walk. Benning is not a 3/4 Dman, he’s at best a 5/6 guy. Nurse will be a solid 3/4 guy down the road. Lots of parts to replace on this team, they just are not good enough.

      • OilersBro

        He may not be fast but if we are making deadline deals giving other players rentals, I’d let Letestu go and keep Strome to fill his spot. Strome is a similar type of player but 8 years younger and is better at even strenght. Plus Yamo will fill Mark’s spot on the left side during the Power Play and we already have enough guys on the PK.

  • btrain

    Lets first acknowledge that part of Button’s job, is that he stir up some drama and controversy. In the world of hockey, Don Cherry paved the way to media personalities that boost ratings through emotionally driven rants and Button certainly falls into a category, with several others, of slightly more polished versions of this type of persona. The guy certainly deserves some credibility but he is limited by his emotionally driven biases. Having ties to the Flames also does not bold well for his ability to form an objective opinion of the Oilers given how emotional he gets. Therefore, I am inclined to divide by at least 2 when it comes to these comments. That said, I do share concern with the GM but mostly in the gambles he takes, his lack of ability to negotiate fair or favorable deals, and the impatience he shows. However, I just can’t imagine an Oilers team, only minus Eberle, Pouliot, and Sekera (temporarily), could be that much slower this season from last and that the speed is the primary reason for lack of success. He specifically quotes chasing the puck all night but its well documented that the Oilers are among the best in the league in possession this season, so how does that make sense?

    • Vanoil

      Pouliot was controversial, but you have to admit he is miles ahead of any other third liner we have on this squad. Take away Eberle and Pouliot and that’s 2/3 of you third line, remove Desharnais, and now you don’t have a third line period. First two lines do play a lot and are suffering from being over played, double shifted multiple times in games this early in the season. Just imagine if we had a viable third line to score one goal a game and tilt the ice for 15 minutes plus per game without giving anything up. Makes a HUGE difference. Now look at the make up of this years squad, try and identify three players not otherwise used in the top 6 who can do that for the OIL. That my friends is the heart of the problem. Chiarelli thought he could win on the back of two lines; that is 2010-2012 hockey it is 2017 now. You need to roll four lines with three of them being productive and the other one tilting the ice without giving anything up.

      • btrain

        I don’t believe Eberle was a 3rd line player outside of the playoffs and 100% chance he would be in the top 6 this year if he were still around. Desjarnais wasn’t anything special, and only put up about .25 points per game as an Oiler. Yes he had a huge goal in the playoffs but otherwise, meh. As a comparison, Strome is .38 pts/game as the Oilers most often used 3rd line center. Then there is Pouliot. I am right with you with him as I think this team misses this player a great deal more than they would like to admit. Where is this team struggling? secondary scoring – Pouliot currently has 6 goals; PK – Pouliot has always been great on the PK; Speed; the guy has boots and I for one mistook him for McDavid on more than a few occasions; depth scoring winger-good option to have again as he can play in the top 6 if need be.

  • Opi

    Excellent assessment … the game has passed Chia right on by … he destroyed the B’s after they won the Cup & destroyed the Oil’s chances before they even competed for the Cup … 4th & 28 … PUNTTTTTTTTTT!

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    We have 4-5 “slow” players. Button’s job is to be polarizing. Our fast players: McD, Drai, Nurse, Klefbolm, Caggiula, Kassian, Khaira, Pulijujarvi, RNH. These guys can flat out beat the opposition with speed. Everyone else on the team has at least average NHL foot speed; except, Maroon, Lucic, Strome, Letestu, Gryba. Even those guys aren’t so slow that they look out of place when working hard.

  • Señor Frijoles

    Fact: Craig Button hates the Oilers and has never in his life said anything positive about them, ever – so anything he says about them, I always take with a huge grain of salt. That said, it’s hard to disagree that Chiarelli is pulling the a Dallas Eakins: GM version, and turning thoroughbreds into plowhorses and then blaming them while pretending to take responsibility.

  • madjam

    That slight , or worse slowness , also results in lack of a decent forecheck and backcheck assignments , as well as puck battle losses . All these are noticeable by eye alone this season as we all have witnessed . It was not noticeable in game one , but has slowly decreased since then , as clubs get into season form .

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    What has happened since last year? Go rid of Hendo, Eberle, lost Sekera, Pitlick and Pouliot, guys no one would consider speedsters. They were fast enough last year, its not all in the speed of the game, its desire to play and win, reading the play and not reacting to it, knowing where to go. The Oilers don’t need a ton of fast players, they need to play on their toes, and actually move their feet instead of gliding. When they play like they did against Vegas, they will be in any games, its lack of effort that hurts them because the league speed isn’t up dramatically from last year.

    • WHH

      For years we had speed and no heavy players. In the Pacific division you needed the heavy players. Now we have heavy players and not enough speed. We had no center depth, but ample scoring wingers. Everyone said scoring wingers are easy to find get more center strength. We now have center strength, but we don’t have enough scoring wingers. We keep trading and signing players to fix holes thus creating new holes. We also will have cap issues. The only way to stop this insanity is to develop from within. We need better drafting, and we need to keep our picks.

  • Serious Gord

    It goes without saying Mr. Button has the great benefit of hindsight.

    Now, if he was saying those things when Lucic or Maroon was signed etc. I would respect his opinion.

    Failing that, his critique is as useful and helpful as Captain Obvious’.

  • Sammy p

    How many cups did this A hole win when he was the GM in Calgary.?
    If he’s so smart why was he fired?
    I’m no Chia fan but I would take him ahead of Button any day.

  • Reinman

    Here are the trades that will fix the Oilers and save face for Chia. Lucic for Griffin Reinhart 1 for 1. Then unload Russell at the trade deadline for a late 2nd-3rd round pick.

    • Captain Ron

      Get used to seeing the Starfish around for a while. You’re not moving him unless you include a nice juicy tidbit along with the deal. And then you need to fill in that spot.

  • Druds

    yeah we pretty well have same team minus two slow people and suddenly we are super slow…LOL But its not like Chia doesn’t need to be shredded anyways for his lackluster work during the summer .

  • Oiler Al

    If Button says its raining outside, you get off your chair and go look out the window! This team is not slow,Its just that McDavid makes everyone else look a bit slower.Dont confuse quick with fast.If you play lazy and slow to react you are not quick.A lot of it has to do with hockey IQ.

    • Clayton

      It was every single St. Louis player that made the Oil look slow last night! But you tend to look slow when you are standing still or lying flat on the ice like the Oil were most of the night last night.

  • Sparky Blue

    Button’s resume includes high end player development and managerial positions but that was 15 years ago. He is said to be well connected but this appears to rely solely on his brother with the Flames. This guy is an over the hill windbag with dubious connections and a reliance on the Don Cherry stare and growl at the camera school of yellow journalism. Sure the Oilers are sucking the hind tit so far but they do so as a team of professional athletes that are under achieving not because they are poor skaters.

  • A Canuck fan chiming in. I honestly don’t understand why you Oilers fan are defending Chiarelli. He’s ruined your team in nearly every manner possible: overpaying mediocre UFA’s, losing every major trade, ruining prospects by forcing them into the NHL too soon, failing to draft a decent player outside of the 1st round, etc. Bashing Button and other critics comes across as an inability to see/accept the truth. Chiarelli took a potential dynasty team and turned it into a bottom feeder. Perfect example, Chiarelli preaches speed but he signed Lucic. Chiarelli is desperate because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. In fact, I think starting with the abundance of assets along with the elation from escaping McTavish/Tambellini/Lowe created a sense of unreasonable expectations which caused Chiarelli to make some friggin’ god-awful, crippling decisions. But what do I know, I’m just a Canuck fan.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      What are you talking about? Chiarelli did not preach speed, then sign Lucic. Although some of your post makes sense, that statement is 100% made up. He wanted to add size to protect his #1 asset. Mission accomplished. Also, who did Chiarelli rush into the NHL and ruin? The guy with 100pts last year? The guy with 77? The D-man (22yrs old) that is holding his own in the top 4? The guy he sent back to Jr. this year although we desperately need RWs? Do you see Bear or Jones in the lineup tonight? Did he ruin Klefbolm who was amazing last year, but because he’s having a rough start Chiarelli is to blame for rushing him? Who is ruined?

    • Harry2

      Well one thing is for sure. You should know god awful drafting cause van has being doing it since Burke was GM.

      Im use to hearing this kind of BS from CGY fans and TOR fand but gimme a break Vancouver? Priceless.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    How is it that the same prognosticators who deemed the Oilers the Western Conference representative in the Stanley Cup finals are the same saying Chiarelli didn’t do enough to improve this team?

  • RJ

    Poo has six goals this year. He had 8 all of last season. He had a terrible habit of taking dumb penalties.

    I have no problem with him being gone. What I do have a problem with is the apparent inability to replace him with someone better.

  • The Dave

    Sorry Craig Button, but this is clearly more about pushing a narrative and clickbait than accurate analysis. The Oilers forward core has changed by two players and the team he praised for speed last year is now slow. Get bent, Craig. This is the guy who thought the Oilers got a dud when they traded for Maroon. I remember listening to him passionately argue with Gregor that Maroon was a plug.

  • Harry2

    Craig Button is right up there with Jeff O’Niell in terms of this “strike while the iron is hot bullsh%t”.

    He is a biased goof. I mean no one had these reckless opinions when Edm was throttling teams last year.

    Bush league journalism

  • Bob Lawblaw

    I never cared much for Craig Button. He’s bombastic and sensationalistic on purpose. I’m sure it’s a requirement to work at TSN. Who the heck cares what he says or thinks. I see some are taking it as gospel. Go Oilers Go !!!

  • GK1980

    Overall I do not agree with button here. The Oilers are a fast team. Kass, McDavid and even Nuge have speed to burn. I’ve even been surprised by Strome’s speed sometimes. This team is not slow, they just need to play smarter and they will be fine. Maybe no playoffs this year but this is not a bad team.

  • russ99a

    The thing is Chiarelli built this team for the postseason, when there isn’t all this open Ice and room for easy skating and pretty passes on the rush.

    The issue isn’t speed, it’s winning battles, making plays under pressure and scoring goals, even the nasty ones that you have to get in the goalie’s craw to get in the net. With expectations and a too easy preseason level of competition, this team lost its way.