Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett

WWYDW: Coaching and Management

With the Oilers looking like they’re about to miss the playoffs after steamrolling their way into the dance only a season ago, the knives are starting to come out for coaches and management. In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday, I want to get your thoughts on who’s to blame here, and ask what you would do to solve the problem?

It goes without saying that this season is going way worse than even the most cynical fan would have predicted. The Oilers came into this season with high expectations and Stanley Cup dreams but rather than living up to them, they’ve found every opportunity available to shoot themselves in the foot. Considering the fact that you can’t #TradeTheMall with every single player on the team the next logical move would be to look at coaching and management. Are Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli living life in the hot seat? That’s what I’m asking you to decide.


When you move into a new house and the walls cave in do you blame the furniture or do you look at the guy that built the thing in the first place? Personally, I’ve seen the coaching carousel turn more than a few times around these parts without changing much of anything, so I tend to look a little bit higher than that. That said, General Managers generally get four or five years to make their mark on a team so it might still be early to look at replacing Peter Chiarelli.

The argument for the axe:

When you look at the makeup of this team, are you satisfied? When you look at Peter Chiarelli’s work after being bumped in the second round of the playoffs, do you think he did enough to improve the team? Considering he didn’t lay down many bets and basically failed on every single one he did make, is that enough to cut the head off the snake and move forward with a different manager? Are we comfortable with the idea of this guy making more major changes to this hockey team?

The argument against the axe:

Who could possibly be available to replace Chiarelli that isn’t an even bigger trainwreck? Would the Oilers be able to go to a well-run team like Nashville and ask to speak with their Assistant GM? Do we really want to risk the Oilers looking to hire from within again and promoting someone to the job that doesn’t deserve it? It’s happened before.


Apr 8, 2017; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan addresses players during a time out during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Edmonton Oilers won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

After being nominated for a Jack Adams Trophy just last season, Todd McLellan finds himself on the hot seat as the team in front of him can’t seem to get much of anything done on a consistent basis. Depending on who you ask, Todd McLellan is a big part of the problem and should be to blame for the Oilers lack of preparation on a nightly basis. Is Todd McLellan next in the line of coaches that have been blamed for the shortcomings of his team?

The argument for the axe:

When you’re coaching a team with Connor McDavid and sitting in lottery country at the halfway point of the season you must know your job is on the line. When you add in the fact that the Oilers are on pace for a historically bad penalty kill at home then you’re taking a long walk down the short path to unemployment.

The argument against the axe:

If you’ve been an Oilers fan for longer than a season or two, you’ve lived through the coaching carousel that went on during the Decade of Darkness. The reason I bring that up is because we already saw a long line of coaches come in and be expected to produce different results. Are we sure this would be any different? At some point, it’s hard to sail a ship when the builder forgot to give you a mast.


Now that I’ve laid out the options, I need you to tell me what the Oilers should do. Should they look at firing the coach? Firing the GM? Get rid of both? Neither?


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  • Mitch92

    I would love to see the Oil bring in Kris Knoblauch from the Flyers. He seemed to know how to get the best out of McDavid with a team built in a similar fashion in Erie. A big, tough and intimidating cast to compliment the fastest player on earth. Having said that, Chia had better make some moves soon or he will be the move that Kats makes.

  • oil.99.97.11

    If Katz let his ‘executives’ run his pharmacy business like his hockey business, Rexall would have amounted to nothing more than a handful of drunken amigos selling fake Viagra in Tijuana.

      • Still don’t understand how many people seem to think he is a brilliant businessman, as stated it was inherited. When Mayors and “businessmen” do an arena deal that screws the taxpayers, instead of a relocation clause for the team, there should also be one for the owner. If you are going to flee the jurisdiction right after you rob the taxpayers , you can no longer own the team. Doubt he would sell it, but the Katz era may turn me off from NHL hockey for good. If he wont sell, my kids will be complaining about how Keegan Lowe is a terrible GM. Kevin Lowe , Craig Mactavish, and Howson will be around as long as he owns the franchise. The only way to permanently get rid of these clowns is to sell the team to someone who cares more about the team, and less about the profits.

      • Dan 1919

        He built an established business into a multi BILLION dollar empire. That’s a far cry from getting dads business and coasting into retirement.

        As far as the Oilers go. He paid Nicholson to take head of everything Hockey business. Nicholson made perfectly clear in numerous interviews that he is the hockey boss now. Personally I think that was a fair move by Katz and a respectable hire by Nicholson to bring on Chiarelli. I’m not a huge fan of how Mclellan handles adversity but I still think the brunt of this year’s failure falls squarely on Chiarelli. I honestly thought he learnt his overpayment lessons and underrating role players in Boston, but he didn’t. Now I doubt Bob fires him for one bad season, so unfortunately we have to hope that Chiarelli learns from ruining a second team, luckily the Oilers still have a solid base and could recover as quickly as next year. The thought of Chiarelli making those corrections is what’s terrifying at this point. Draisaitl for Dustin Brown?

  • ponokanocker

    I still don’t understand how almost the same lineup from last year can be so bad. Eberle for Strome is not breaking this team. While we were missing Sekera, he is back now and we are as bad as before. What has changed so much? I know people are calling for coaching/management changes, but it looked like we were on track to being a contender last year.

    • ed from edmonton

      This is the real question, essentially the same team on track for 35 less points. Every player (other than Nurse and JP) is playing below last year’s level. What has changed??? Pro sport handbook page two says the coach gets the axe when an entire team goes sour.

    • CMG30

      What changed?
      1. They traded a legit top line winger WHO SCORES GOALS for third line guy and some cap space ’cause he looked lazy in the playoffs.
      2. The GM knew they were starting the season without the help of their top (arguably) defenseman for an extended period of time and didn’t bother to find help in the off season.
      3. Talbot started the year slowly.
      4. Too many people in and around the Oilers organization think Kris Russell is an NHL defenseman.
      5. Lucic is the guy we needed 5 years ago. Today we need the next Lucic.
      6. Injuries: Sekera, Talbot, Larrson, Klefbom (played, but was likely injured most of the season but couldn’t sit due to the already thin blueline.)
      7. Got behind the 8-ball early, lost confidence, motivation, drive.
      8. PK & PP. Astoundingly poor.
      9. GM arrogance. Yet another summer where he frittered away assets and talent on bad bets.

      • Edmontoncanucks

        Dead on. It was inexcusable that Chia knew he would be without Sekera and did not bring in veteran D to secure the gains that had been made. D were everywhere…Vegas had 3 spare..Only point you missed is Chia failed to secure this season with a genuine NHL back up goalkeeper..it should have been obvious that Broissot was not ready…put way too much pressure on Talbot hence injury. GM is to blame. Coach has lost the room too. Worst PK in NHL history needs to equal a firing.

  • lee

    Keeping someone on because they have gone through lots of people seems like a weak reason.
    Coaches are supposed to get the most out of their players, does TM get the most out of this team?
    Our special teams are historically bad and the system the team plays clearly does not work for the team that PC has given TM. Look at the Vegas line up then look at the Oilers line up, now look at the standings, the facts speak for them selves.
    GM’s are supposed to build a team that can challenge for the Stanley cup for at least 3-5 years, has PC built a team that fits the bill or has he wasted valuable trade assets building a team that has plenty of holes despite having Hall and Eberle to trade plus lots of free agent money to spend?
    Remember there is a reason why Boston fired this guy, he traded away a super star for next to nothing while over paying players for their past not what they were going to give the team after their new contract kicked in. Sound familiar.

  • Ian Gallant

    Look at Tampa and LA.. both never made the playoffs last year.. don’t think they made a lot of changes.. I would give them until next November then make the decision… I think we have the team … don’t blow it up just yet …

  • TartanArmy

    There’s a pretty good chance the season is over, it pains me to say so. I feel like Chia could have made some adjustments but the market in today’s NHL is difficult to handle. A RHD and scoring RW that could have made a difference would have cost us what? It probably would have opened up another glaring hole in another position. I would hope that our GM did his best but with the way the league operates these days i’m sure there were difficulties. To compensate, he signs Russell to a big contract knowing he’s capable of playing the right side even though he’s a lefty, showers Drai with huge bucks, and hopes his young guns from last year take big strides….or at least some of them. Talbot played 70 something games last year, so im thinking the hope that Brossoit got into 10-15 games and played well defeated the need to throw money at another backup goalie with the hopes he would take some strides. A lot of this didn’t pan out. Talbot got hurt for a bit and Brossoit looked like a deer in the headlights at times, the younger forward group from last year (Slepyshev, Cagguila, Pakarainen) haven’t progressed that much, etc.etc. Granted, guys like Khaira and Nurse have. You gotta make better bets, and I think Oilers need 1 more season of Chia trying to right the ship.

    As far as TMac goes, he has what he has. He saw this particular group find success last year, so he’s sticking to his system. I think he stays with 1 main caveat….he’s gotta make some strategy changes regarding special teams. Wether it be the guys he’s using or the strategy itself. Change it. Show us something different. If he sticks to his guns, then it pains me to suggest sending him off and bringing in a guy like Dave Tippett for next season. And, regarding those assistant coaches TMac has, loyalty only gets you so far. They are also failing miserably. It should be the coaches job to do what needs to be done, whatever that may be, do it. The system is broken.

    Just my thoughts….disagree if you like. But, if its not in our cards to be playing playoff hockey this year, show that you are fixing it for next year. Besides….it’s not like we are not used to seeing the team playing golf Apr/May/Jun. 🙂

  • LordRuggles

    I have a sterling record as a gm while playing nhl 18, not only do I constantly fleece other gms, I also deliver results with many Stanley cup banners being raised to the rafters. I feel I would be a suitable replacement for Chia-pet, if for some reason you don’t believe I would make a better gm, I also own some very intelligent house plants that might be an upgrade to our current gm. Thank you for your consideration.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Throw all us Oiler Nation posters in the hat for new GM, Head Coach and Specialty teams coach. I know we would do better than the current joker list. I’m ready go start winning!

  • Vanoil

    Just an observation: This team was built a certain way — “Chiarelli’s plan”. The issue is that the type of team may not have been the answer in the first place. If you are going to make decisions regarding Mgt, surely thepeople who make those decisions should first have an idea of what type of Team will be successful — not just today but in the future going forward. You always want to be on the vanguard in a results oriented business. Big & Heavy worked against Slight and Smart (Boston vs. Vancouver) but it doesn’t work against Fast and Skilled. Yes you need balance, but more than that you need vision. Teams that are successful are those who are built not just for the here and now but for the future as well. Bringing in Chiarelli, and buying into his plan, simply gave up the win-fall for hope. While stability on the back-end was needed, I can’t accept that the price paid was worth the return — To solidify the back end, we got Reinhart (2 Draft pick Trade), Larson (Hall Trade), Russell (F.A. & re-sign), Lowe (AHL Trade), Bear (draft & Dev.), Jones (draft & Dev.), Piagin (Draft & Release) … While the ends were used to justify the means, and we now have a semblance of depth on the back-end, but have lost the value of all those high-end picks from that Decade of darkness. We traded one weakness for another, and let other teams reap the value of our mis-fortunes.

    If you objectively assess the results, and compare this “plan” to the teams who have achieved success since his hiring — Pitsburgh, Nashville, Tampa, Vegas, Columbus — you have to say that his “answer”, was likely Not the correct one in the first place.

    Changing this teams fortunes is more about finding the right answer (“plan”) and the person to implement it, than it is about evaluating existing management / coaching staff. Its tough to succeed when the deck is stacked against you, or when you are swimming against the current, or when you are striving to go one direction, when the league is going another.

  • puckle-head

    FIRE CHIARELLI PLEASE. I’ve never been a fan of the way he built this team. My main concern was always that having guys like Talbot (which Chiarelli does get credit for acquiring), Draisitl, and especially McDavid would be capable of concealing a lot of management mistakes. I figured “well, the Oilers will at least be playoff good, but Chiarelli might have prevented them from becoming something truly great.” It seems I wasn’t pessimistic enough.

    I mean… Chiarelli has traded Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, a first and second round draft pick, and gave $16 million to 3 free agents. and yet we still have no clear top defensive pairing and our best defender is a guy we drafted 5 years ago. If you’ve read my comments before you’re probably sick of me pointing that out, but seriously, I can’t get over it. It’s bananas.

    • Dean S

      Chiarelli’s Legacy….
      Anders Nilsson->Johnas Gustavsson->Laurent Brossoit (and still no NHL playoff goalie in the system)
      Signed Laurie Korpokawski, that worked out well.
      Traded Brandon Davidson for David Desharnais.
      Traded away a 1st and 2nd round draft pick for Griffin Reinhart. (played 29 games for Edm)
      Signed Milan Lucic to 7Y X 6M contract. (has difficulty keeping up now) signed till 2022.
      Traded away Jordon Eberle (Edm 3rd leading scorer last yr) for Dylan Strome (poor skater).
      Signed Zack Kassian for 3 more years. 3Yr X 1.75M (can’t score on his own net with the goalie pulled).
      Traded away Nail Yakapov for next to nothing (he has more goals than Strome and Kassian combined).
      Signed 6’4″ Eric Gryba (need more size on back end?)
      Not much hope left with Chiarelli here.

  • Shredder

    Don’t fire anybody. That’s letting them off the hook. Bag skate them all. Coaches included. Make them sweat. Make them suffer. Put it on video, and make the world watch.

  • Odanada

    Whatever Nicholson is, he’s not an NHL visionary. He was an old back slapper looking for a cushy gig and he found it in spades. Bring in Gretzky and Nicholson will be guaranteed a job there as long as Wayne remains there. Lowe. McTavish. There’s no edge to this gang; just a bunch of good old boys gathered round the hot stove warming their hands to the heat of fans burning their hard earned money.

    • Old school

      coach and staff have to go.. no leadership ..no answers ..no strategy ..no preparedness..no creativity ..no adaptability ..no confidence .. great lack of respect to the players and fans continuing down this road

    • jultz=2cups!😂😂

      You clearly didnt read Gregors comment the other day when he explained that nick runs the OEG. Not involved in everyday hockey ops. Neither are Lowe or Mact. And like Gregor said, why do Lowe and Mact take all the blame when the team is bad, but nobody praised them when the team was firing on all cylinders last year?? God, it’s like banging my head against a wall reading comments like these every single day. This is all on chia and McClellan. Do you guys understand how this works now??

      • Disappointed

        From the Oilers web site

        Lowe has been instrumental in the renewed success of the team, both on and off the ice. In his role he will continue to work towards and promote the growth and development of Oilers Entertainment Group in its many new business initiatives, as well as continue to work closely with OEG Chief Executive Officer Bob Nicholson, on the growth of the Oilers Entertainment Group.
        are the Oilers not part of the OEG group? I bet him and MacT are in the room when decisions are made.

      • Odanada

        Since joining OEG, Bob has devoted his time to assessing all aspects of the organization. Going forward, he will have clear responsibility for OEG’s growing sports and entertainment business, and all the support and latitude he needs from me to lead the Oilers back to being a Stanley Cup contender. Bob is the ideal person to lead the organization forward. He is a bold thinker, a strong consensus builder and a very fine individual.

        Daryl Katz

        Daryl hired me to build a winning organization. We have a lot of work to do, but we know what we need to do to get there”

        Bob Nicholson

  • CMG30

    PC gone. Tmac gets another year but only if he cans his assistant coaches.

    Who do you replace the GM with? At this point I’m willing to give it back to MacTavish till a better candidate can be found. At least he’ll sit on his hands instead of flushing talent down the toilet.

  • Ghostfront

    Probably keep both as long as they learn something from this season and adapt. If both stubbornly stick to a “that’s the way I do it” mentality, then say bye-bye.

  • RJ

    Some folks are going to blame Chia, and I understand that. A lot of his moves didn’t pan out, and many of his signings were flawed.

    But I don’t see how McLellan escapes the blame here. He is supposedly an elite offensive coach but outside of one miraculous game where the PP scored 5 PPGs, his PP has been on par with Eakins. He has some bizarre love affair with certain players. It didn’t take that long to see that Lucic couldn’t match up with McD but they left him there for too long. Since Letestu is a UFA, maybe you give JP a shot on the PP, since he’s one of the few young players performing?

    Blame the players efforts instead of yourself. That’s a man who knows he is walking out the door.

  • Big Nuggets

    I dont know if blaming McLellan is fair but if we had a respectable PP and PK we would win a lot more games.
    I also don’t trust Chia to make the right moves, but I still think we have good players capable of more than this.
    I would probably be excited if I heard of either coach or GM getting the axe. although I would like to have a quality replacement lined up before pulling the trigger.