Three Thoughts: The vote

So, it would appear Peter Chiarelli, Edmonton Oilers’ GM and president of hockey operations, is the man boss Bob Nicholson feels comfortable moving forward with despite what’s been a desperately disappointing 2017-18 season. At least that’s my takeaway from Chiarelli’s interview on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown a couple of days ago.

In the bit, Nicholson talked about how there was plenty of blame to go around from top to bottom in the organization, said that he was “shocked” and “disappointed” about how this season has unfolded and also made mention that it would be good to add another top defenceman – isn’t it always? No mention, though, of doing another forensic audit on the job Chiarelli has done with 26 games remaining in his third season in the big chair. It sounds to me like Chiarelli is Nicholson’s man heading into the trade deadline, the off-season and the 2018-19 campaign.

I can’t say I’m surprised. I suggested in an item on Feb. 11 that the first matter of business for Nicholson going into the trade deadline and beyond was to decide if Chiarelli was the man to get the job done. It appears he has – likely, he already had before that item even ran. I expected it would go this way, which should not be confused with me necessarily believing it should go this way. I, like you, don’t get a vote. Bob doesn’t call . . .

The part of the Nicholson segment with McCown (which begins at about 1:37.00) that caught my ear: “They’re upset and they should be upset,” Nicholson said of a fan base that expected better after 103 points last season. “We’ve had lots of focus groups, had lots of discussion with them. They believe this team can win the Cup in the next three to five years. It’s Peter Chiarelli’s job, along with my job, to show them a plan and we’re going to get this team better again. I really believe with some changes here that we can.”

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Nicholson also said: “We will look to do something to try to improve our team, short and long term. We’ve got some assets that we could trade here.” Given what I perceive as a vote of confidence, are any of you out there, given the team Chiarelli has assembled in his third season here, confident he’ll handle those assets properly moving forward? With the benefit of hindsight, I’m not nearly as sure as I once was.

I’ve got to admit, when Chiarelli and Todd McLellan came aboard with the Oilers for the 2015-16 season, I considered both of them a marked upgrade on what we’d seen during the era when Steve Tambellini and Craig MacTavish were running the show and there was a coaching carousel behind the bench. I still believe that to be the case, but results are what matter. Last season, to be sure, looked like the light the end of the tunnel.

Was it a one-off? In 2015-16, the Oilers finished with 70 points and had a point percentage of .427. It likely would have been better had Connor McDavid not busted his collarbone. Last year, 103 points and a .628 point percentage – the team’s best since 1986-87. Playoffs, baby! Happy days are here again. So far this season, with 26 games to go after that heartless 4-1 loss in Las Vegas, the Oilers are 23-29-4 for 50 points and point percentage of .446. Tambellini did better than that in three of his five seasons – without McDavid on the roster – before getting canned.

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So, if Chiarelli is Nicholson’s man and McLellan is Chiarelli’s man – the GM said January 8 he had no intention of firing the coach – then it would appear the most significant people at the top of hockey operations will remain intact going to the off-season and beyond. Are you OK with that? As for me, I suppose I am, in large part because I do see value in continuity at this point. That said, I’m not nearly a certain as I once was. Not even close.


Jan 20, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic (27) and Vancouver Canucks forward Markus Granlund (60) battle for a loose puck during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Georges Laraque raised a few eyebrows Thursday when he told Gene Principe of Sportsnet during a second intermission interview he saw an Oilers team that needed a “heart transplant.” In part, Laraque said: “On paper, the Oilers have a better team, but (Vegas) plays with more heart. “There are a lot of guys on that team that need to make a hospital visit and get a heart transplant. There’s not enough heart out there. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Over at the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal, writer David Staples suggested, based on the initial interview, Laraque was directing some his comments at Milan Lucic. Laraque called me this morning emphatically saying that’s not the case. He called Staples as well. A note – call it a clarification — about that has been added to the item. We’ll have an item on the Laraque comments coming up here shortly.


According to the Twitter account of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, an anonymous donor has stepped forward that is willing to match individual donations to the World’s Longest Hockey Game, being played out at Saiker’s Acres. The goal is to raise $2 million. I’m not sure who this is, but this gesture, it goes without saying, is going to make a huge difference in reaching that goal. Donate if you can here.


  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Honestly I’m sick and tired of the firings already. They made a mistake, let them fix it. Firing doesnt help. And if youre going to fire anybody, FIRE THE OLD BOYS CLUB!

    • RJ

      I wish that I worked for you.

      They could go 31st in PP and PK, with the worst home PK in history but we should let the folks running the gong show fix it. Right….

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        No I’m talking about Chiarelli. Definitely fire the assistants as they’ve done diddly squat. But when it comes to Chiarelli, he made the moves that got us into the post-season last year, so he shouldn’t be fired because of his mistake. Colorado didn’t fire anybody after last season’s disaster and look where they are now.

        • Big Nuggets

          he doesnt deserve that much credit. after that many 1st overall picks and McDavid the team should be able to make it to the playoffs. Chia’s moves will make it difficult to get back into the playoffs unless the players we have start playing better.

  • puckle-head

    So disappointing. Chiarelli is clearly not the man for the job. At this point, and I’m not exaggerating here, I think MacTavish would be an upgrade. He may not have been as good at building a team, but at least he didn’t spend away the assets willy nilly.

    • Zed

      Kruger coaches 48 games against the west . I think that’s a stretch if you think he was the best coach. He never landed another gig so can’t be that sought out after

      • oilfan79

        LOL. Krueger is the Chairman of Southampton in the EPL (English Premiere League soccer). I wonder which gig is the better one – head coach of a small market team in the #5 professional sports league (#8 if you include NCAA football and hoops) in North America or Chairman of small market team in arguably the most recognized professional sports league in the world (although it looks like Southampton may be relegated down after this season).

        As far as his coaching ability, all you need to do is look at what he did with Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He took the team most experts picked to finish bottom two all the way to the finals. If Ralph ever wanted to step down a few notches back to coach in the NHL or a European league, I don’t think he would have a problem finding a job.

        That being said, if he had still been the coach of the Oilers it would have meant no McDavid as the Oilers would have continued to improve. I guess there is a small sliver of a silver lining to the CrackT and Eakins debacle.

        • Zed

          That has nothing to do with him coaching the oilers for a lockout season. Good for him he moved
          On to bigger and better things but like I said before to say he was the best coach for this team when he didn’t accomplish anything For this team, Is foolish

  • Yourresignationpeter

    What a joke the oilers are again !! only way This gets better is if Edmontonions would grow a pair and not show up to an oilers game ! Hit Katz in the pocketbook see what happens then ?? Only problem is oilers fans don’t have the balls to stand up and fight for they’re hard earned money !!! We don’t want to hurt Connors feelings ?? The players don’t care they get paid way to much no matter what ?! It’s like if I went to work and was like I’m not feeling it ! I’m just gonna float around and don nothing. Then when I get fired I can’t figure out what happened and I’m crying to ON that I lost my job !!! Connor is a great player. But he’s not 12.5 million great. Leon is good to. But neither of them have earned the money chiarelli has gifted them !! Is it just me or is Connor not that humble ?? Like I know if I’m in that position. I don’t take 12.5 million ?? I take less and save money for a team around me. Like Crosby and Malkin fleury and letang did in Pittsburgh !! But I guess money is way better then a Stanley cup ? Right Connor and Leon ???? Chiarelli for mayor 2019 !!!!!

  • Old school

    The G.M. hasn’t performed but l cannot understand the free ride Todd and his coaching staff get .. this has to be one of the worst job performances in history. Coaching is about deploying resources properly and making adjustments. Todd has shown absolutely no ability to do either . Stubborn ,inflexible ,thick and incapable and unaccountable. I don’t believe the players believe in him and demonstrate it every night . Continuity only matters if you are moving forward

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    So let me get this straight ON

    Peter Chiarelli was hired in 2015 and we start year 1 of a PROPER rebuild. Something the previous guys were incapable of doing. In the 2016 off-season, Chiarelli makes some moves that HELP MAKE THE PLAYOFFS! Last off-season, he overvalues what he has, makes a gamble that fails, and now you all want him fired? Meanwhile, you’re praising the old regime who did nothing but get forward, after forward, after forward. No defensive help (something Chiarelli addressed), no goaltending help (something Chiarelli addressed). Oh and need I remind you that Peter Chiarelli was the GM when Edmonton made the playoffs AND was nominated for GM of the year.

    Excuse my bluntness, BUT ARE YOU ALL HIGH! YOU WANT THE OLD GUYS BACK! THE GUYS WHO DID F ALL AS GM’S!? This fanbase sickens me sometimes. Next you’ll be telling me that Wayne Gretzky would make a better GM. Stop with the Tunnel Vision and look at the bigger picture. Colorado didn’t fire anybody after a season that was worthy of firing everybody and look where they are now.

    • Father of the Marshalsea

      The thing is Alex, anyone who was aware of the Chias history was unhappy when he was hired, what has happened here was predictable, Chia is not a good GM the fact that he won a Stanley cup does not signify greatness. Imagine that back in 2006 Pisani had scored a few more goals and the Oilers had won the cup, would this mean that Keven Lowe is a good GM. Alex, you are right in saying that idiot fans are just now turning against Chia as a knee-jerk reaction to this season, the thing is though the smart fans already turned against him a long time ago.

    • Big Nuggets

      Nobody is saying they want the old management back, they are saying Chia is just as bad and maybe worse. His trades were mostly terrible, he can’t scout pro players, He can’t win a contract negotiation, He makes hair-brained decisions with roster personnel ie buying out Pouliot, never giving Oesterle a chance, Overvaluing defensive specialists on a team with offensive superstars in a league that has clearly moved to puck possesion and defensmen that can move the puck well. He appears to have no clear vision for this team.
      Don’t give him all the credit for making the playoffs, he inherited a lot and did a little.

  • toprightcorner

    I don’t get why they fans are blaming Charelli for the terrible season. Other than a drop of about 12 goals from Eberle to Strome, this is basically the same team. McDavid, Nuge, Draisaitl and Nurse are the only players having equal or better seasons. Every other player is having a crap season and are way down in production and defensive effectiveness. What GM or coach can realistically expect that 75% of their team, year over year, would get worse.

    Not one person could say that if Eberle was still here this year that the Oilers would be in a playoff position. The way the entire team has crapped the bed, Eberle would likely have about the same goals as last year.

    At the end of last year, everyone loved PC, with 90% the same team, everyone hates him. That makes no sense.

    • Big Nuggets

      I think we would be better if we still had Hendricks and Pitlick. We would have accountability for hard work and a couple more players that can PK. Its a fibe.balance between winning and losing in this league and attitude plays a large role. That is why a team like Colorado can go from a losing tean to a winning streak with the same line-up. They had nothing more to lose and things started to click.
      I think this line-up is still good enough to win some games but when you look at Chia’s body of work it doesn’t look good. I dont blame Chia for the losing season but I dont trust him to make the right moves for next season either.

  • CMG30

    I’ll sound like a broken record if I say fire the GM again, but they need to. His track record with assets and signings is beyond abysmal. I don’t see the same need to fire the coach. This coach has a good record prior to his stint on the Oil and there’s no good candidates to replace him anyway. Besides, Laraque is absolutely right, heart is a tremendous issue with this team. the PK is the perfect example of this: effective PK’s rely on hard work. The Oilers historically bad PK means historically poor work ethic on the ice. What can a coach really do? You can’t coach heart.

  • Top_Shelfie

    Lets face the issue, PC couldnt help get it done in Ottawa and couldnt get it done in Boston which sent The Bruins into a miserable tail spin and then thw Oilers think its a good idea to hire him to end 10 years of absence from the NHL’s elite company. PC has known that the Oilers defence has been in dire need of a consistent top 4 guy for three years now, so we trade Taylor for a guy who barely is a top 6 on an elite team in todays NHL. I should also add, we only got one guy in a very lopsided trade. Then enter in the cup cake Ryan Strome, Im not even going here as the numbers speak for themselves. We miss you Ebs!

    So what now, Yamamoto? No! Ethan Bear? No! Caleb Jones? No! Trade RNH? No! Here’s one for ya, sign Leon to an 8 million dollar contract? NO!

    Trade Leon?? Maybe if your able to land a legit top 4 dman and a right winger that can skate with Connor and shoot the puck….HARD!

    Im going to end this with one other comment, despite the obvious line-up challenges the Oilers have the solution is not in the dressing room, its in the product they out on the ixe night in and night out. Gougeous had it right! I would love to see everyone on this team internally did deep to examine their own heart beat. If your not into it, own it and get out. We dont want you.

    Until next time, go Top Shelf where grandma hides the cookies.