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Bob Nicholson speaks, nothing changes

First it was Todd McLellan, then Peter Chiarelli, and today it was Bob Nicholson’s turn to speak to the media and try to make sense of another lost season. Just kidding, he barely answered questions. Let’s break it down. 

When I found out that Bob Nicholson was going to speak today it was hard to temper my excitement that something significant was going to happen. At least, that was my hope until I remembered that I’m an Oilers fan and realized that all we were going to hear was generic commentary, question dodging, and confirmation that they have a “plan” in place. As expected, that’s exactly what happened.

ON PETER CHIARELLI

To start the press conference, Nicholson got things started by confirming that Peter Chiarelli will return for another season as both POHO and General Manager.

Shit. But why, though?

You know what… I’d love to have a peek at that plan because I’m not sure it’s a thing that actually exists. To take that a step further, does part of that plan include completely dismantling the roster, trading away talent and then wondering why things went wrong. Apparently so. Amazingly, the Oilers are buying it and, since that’s the case, I’m headed down to head office as soon as this is posted with a bridge to sell.

Again, I have to ask why they think that Peter Chiarelli is the man that can successfully navigate these waters considering he’s the one that landed them here. Also, why does he get to avoid conversations with Daryl Katz and hide behind you? Back in the EIG days, Chiarelli would have had to answer to those shareholders and I want to know why he gets to avoid speaking to the people signing his cheques.

Does he really, though? He literally admitted yesterday that he wanted a do-over on something as simple as bringing in a veteran defender to replace Sekera when we all knew he was going to miss months of game action. That was literally one of the easiest choices to make last summer and he screwed that up, but now we’re supposed to expect him to have his bases covered? Not to mention, Chiarelli went through this season with all kinds of cap space and did absolutely nothing with it, but we’re expected to believe he’s seeing all the angles? Please.

Yeah, no shit. I assume when news came out that Chiarelli was staying that all 30 of the other GMs did a fist pump in their office and tried calling him with trade options immediately. I mean, why wouldn’t they love him? The guy has lost most of the trades he’s made as Oilers GM (Talbot, Kassian, and Maroon acquisitions were wins) and still has a job so of course he has a good relationship with the other managers. If I was running another team I would be calling him every hour on the hour with a new boat anchor to throw at him because history suggests that he’ll fall for it sooner or later. How tone deaf can this organization be? Good Gord.

Wait… first you said he had a plan and now you’re saying that you believe he has a plan? Which one is it? Chiarelli probably walks around the office with a folder that says “plan” on it to try and make sure that everyone thinks he knows what he’s doing. Frankly, I’m not even convinced that Bob Nicholson watched any Oilers games this year because none of this makes sense. Actually, I’d love to know how he’s evaluating the GM here.

If it starts with wins and losses then you’d think that missing the playoffs in two of the three years he’s been here would be enough to find a new GM, no? Guess not. I guess he meant wins and losses in playoff seasons only.

ON THE COACHING STAFF

While Nicholson didn’t say much about the coaching staff, I didn’t walk away with the feeling that the same guys will be back behind the bench next year. Again, Nicholson talked about evaluation and blah blah blah.

I’d love to see the logic behind keeping Peter Chiarelli, the man that built the team, and firing Todd McLellan if that’s what does end up happening. Firing a coach that was given a flawed roster is like getting mad when your house collapses after the only building materials used were jelly beans.

When asked if Mclellan would be back, Nicholson tapdanced and didn’t give an answer but it certainly looks like Todd (or his staff) will be the fall guy(s) for this season.

Sorry, Todd, Peter, by his own admission, traded away a bunch of vets and lost trades all over the place but you’re fired because you and only you couldn’t get more out of the group. Got it? Cool.

When asked about why Paul Coffey was brought in mid-season, Nicholson dodged that question too.

Probably because he didn’t really do much right, Bob? But since he’s a former Oiler, I’m expecting him to be back next year in some capacity, right?

Oh, right. The review. Thank Gord they’re doing a review because I was worried that the forensic audit was all for not. Maybe they can do a forensic audit on the review just to make sure that everything really gets covered. So, Bob, who’s conducting this review anyway?

Oh good. Happy day.

THIS AND THAT…

On the fan experience…

If you’ve been to Rogers Place during the regular season then you probably know how little the Oilers do to make the experience fun outside of what happens on the ice… unless, of course, you love 50 crowd shots per night. When Gregor asked about improving the fan experience, Nicholson seemed content with the lacklustre environment that hundreds of dollars worth of tickets will get you.

Yeah, Vegas fans have more fun at the games than Oilers fans do — that is different. But seriously, though, what makes Oilers fans so different aside from geography? Does he really believe that we don’t want to have fun at games that we’re spending a fortune on, especially when the team is horrible? One thing we’ve heard many times here at the Nation is that fans are actually told to sit down and not get overly rowdy by Rogers Place workers, and when asked about it, Nicholson dodged again before seeming content with the bare minimum.

Ah yes, the t-shirt guy. I mean, sure that dude is fun to watch and you always want to grab a free shirt when you can get one but do they really think bringing a guy in every few games is really doing enough, especially when they’re going to jack up ticket prices again? I don’t think that’s a $10 cab ride away from being good enough. I just think they don’t care. It’s my opinion that the OEG knows that Oilers fans will show up no matter what and that means they don’t have to do anything to make the experience better. The building is always full so why go above and beyond and make sure that the people that spend big money on tickets are happy? What a concept.

THE WRAP…

What a waste of time. Much like Chiarelli’s chat from yesterday, Nicholson didn’t say much apart from confirming that Chiarelli will be back and then rattling off a bunch of cliched answers and macro level statements that don’t really mean anything. Like I said before, I was hoping that Bob would swing through with some sweeping changes at various levels of team management, but those hopes were quickly dashed by more rhetoric and promises of a brighter future. For a lifelong fan of the Edmonton Oilers, this press conference was a complete waste of time, another sad chapter in the organization not caring about accountability and a slap in the face to anyone that spends money on this hockey team.

At the end of the day, this press conference was more annoying than any of the others and probably could have been handled with a press release. Nicholson didn’t say jack squat and his condescending tone and avoidance of real concerns was a kick to the pills of Oilers fans everywhere. It’s almost like we’re all here to serve these guys rather than the other way around and I felt like they couldn’t care less about what anyone outside of their little bubble has to say. To hear Nicholson dismiss or sidestep almost every question he was asked was hard to listen to and left me expecting even more disappointment in years to come.

For a guy that had a sparkling reputation coming into this job, Nicholson hasn’t done anything to make me feel like he’s steering this ship in the right direction. Then again, I guess running an NHL team isn’t as easy as picking 23 of the best players on the planet to play for Team Canada every four years. What did you guys think?

ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY TOURISM JASPER

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See the highlights from last year!

  • If the leadership of the Oilers think that they have the pieces to compete for the cup in the next couple of years they are living in a fools paradise. The Oilers are missing 4 skilled wingers, 3 top 4 d-men and a solid #1 goalie. What this team has in the minors are years away from helping this team become a Stanley Cup contender.

      • Unfortunately this team will not compete for the cup with the roster they have. Its sad when they have to play their 2 good centers on McD line because they don’t have talented enough wingers to play with him. After Larsen they only have a collection of 5/6 d-men and does anyone think Talbot can backstop this team to the cup? I know it hurts to look at your team and realize they have to take a step back in order to get better, as the Jets did 3 years ago. Trade out the deadwood and draft, develop and don’t rush young players into the NHL. I sure would like to see a Oiler/Jet rivalry in the future.

        • Friesenhan

          Has Las Vegas not proven that it’s not in having a bunch of stars, its the all around effort? I do not believe that trading Pouliot and Eberle has gotten us from last year to here. I do not think that Nurse and Klefbom are 5/6 defensemen. There are definitely issues here, but lets not get carried away. I am no Chiarelli fan, but a lot of this season has to be put on the players and coaches. Something is incredibly wrong in the dressing room if things like being the 1# penalty kill on the road and the worst penalty kill at home are taking place. I wouldn’t trade this roster for at least half of the other rosters in the NHL, flaws considered. But I would certainly look at where this systems breakdown is happening and fix that.

          • Not McDavid's Fault

            *edit
            All the deadweight we run the risk of McD thinking about leaving when his contract is up if not sooner. Look at the potential mess the islanders have if Traves walks away. That might karma for all the times they spend us thought.

          • Tanking isn’t the answer as the players you intend to keep when the team gets better will have a loser attitude. You have to have leaders that will kill to win, put the good of the team first and refuse to let any of their team mates not give 100%. The Oilers have to draft character players and aquire players from successful programs and have a winning attitude to teach they players they keep what is needed to win. If they don’t buy in get rid of them.

          • Don’t worry about losing McD and Draisaitl as your Oilers can turn this around in 3 or 4 years. The management has to realize that they just don’t have a good enough players to compete and need to make some hard decisions on personal. Keep the core 6 or 7 players and build around them.

    • oilerjed

      At worst the Oil need 2 skilled RWs and a really good RHD.
      Talbot will bounce back, Klef will bounce back, Looch?? Hopefully.
      Strome is a solid 3C and we have the wingers to fill out the bottom 6. Upgrade Benning, Montoya and both 1 & 2 RW.

    • McRaj

      Disagree big time with this. Missing 1 or 2 Skilled Wingers, One top pairing right shot d -man, and an adequate backup who can push the starter and play 40 games if needed.

  • Moneyball

    I suppose the author figures that with a different GM, the power play, penalty killing and goaltending would have lit it up this year? In all seriousness Chiarelli has done a serviceable job as GM. He has attracted some interest from free agents which has not happened in Edmonton in at least 10 years. He has really improved the prospect pool since becoming GM and has improved our scouting so that we actually get a pick past the second round that is still a prospect after a year. The big trades that people say he “Lost” are moves that make sense at the time. Dumping Eberle to free up cap space and trading Hall to get a good D man were requirements at the time. If anything on this team needs to change it is the coaching that seems stuck in the past and totally out of touch on how to adapt to changes in game or throughout the season. If we had better PP and PK coaches this team would be in the playoffs. In all fairness that is not on the GM.

  • toprightcorner

    Nicholson CLEARLY stated a few times that the presser was strictly to announce that Chairelli would continue on as the GM. With that being said, expecting a detailed run down of everything else is unwarranted, that is the job of the of the still acting GM. Chairelli probably wasn’t even certain at his presser yesterday that he would keep his job.

    I get people want answers, but thinking you will get exactly what you want crazy. No team ever does this, so why be mad when a team continues to follow that mantra.

    I get fans are passionate but your still just fans, not shareholders. Even a season ticket holder is not a shareholder, because you buy your underwear at Walmart doesn’t make you a shareholder.