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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!

  • Nation Dan

    They could have saved us all the time and anguish by sending out a neat and tidy one line release

    “Peter is fine, everything is fine.”

    Ok, the anguish is still there.

  • 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.

          • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • TheDiplomat

    “Peter has a very good relationship with other GMs in this league” -Nicholson on the GM’s ability to make moves”

    Didn’t know if I should have laughed or cried at this statement…

    • Bringer_Of_Snow

      hahah no kidding. What was the point behind saying that. Does having a “good relationship” with other GMs get you anything? Do GM’s give you discounts on trades if you have a “good relationship”? What a dumb thing to say. First thing that came to mind when I heard that was exactly what BM said. I’d love him too if he gave me players Hall for someone like Larsson.

      Too bad he didn’t have a good relationship with Sweeney when we offered better picks for Hamilton than Calgary did, and they demanded Nurse. I think as a fan we have every right to be critical in hindsight of our GM’s moves. He is supposed to be the expert we rely on to watch a franchise that we spend thousands of dollars on each year. I trace all of the Oilers problems to that day. If the Oilers never hired Chia, they may have been able to get Hamilton (no spite), in which case they never would have had to trade Hall for Larsson, in which case they never would have signed Lucic, and probably would not have signed Russell.

      It kills me to think of what this team should have been, hell even could have been if our GM didn’t make one single trade. And at this point the damage is done, Chia’s “plan” isn’t all that great, and it really doesn’t matter what they do with him. He couldn’t possibly do much more to screw this team over. Fire him and it looks even worse on Nicholson – hiring a GM who flips raw talent for “grit”, drains your team of any good assets, then just leaves.

      • Chiarelli is a train wreck!

        100% agree .. have said the exact same thing about the Hall trade from the day of the trade. Destroyed the teams long term success in one stupid trade. Who the hell is Larsson and hows Lucic working out.

  • Hockey123

    Ha ha

    Plan for the future ? very few prospects , one of the worst AHL teams in the league, losing all trades that matter. Of course every GM likes him.

    Oilers deserve Chiarelli.

    • BobbyCanuck

      ” 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”

      Well, this is what happens in a market economy when demand exceeds supply, their is a long waiting list for season tickets, until the barn is half empty on game night, do not expect any management changes

    • madjam

      On the contrary . Most Oiler fans are tier two or less , and most of them are generally viewing team in and around the TV , and all the related revenues and merchandise that surrounds that . If those fans watch little of games, or just a portion, revenues for teams goes way down with lower ratings , as does merchandising . Other revenues keep more teams in business more so than just attendance at games . Tier two interest in waning in Alberta and B.C. , after this seasons poor showings .

  • camdog

    Sure was a weird press conference. When Peter spoke yesterday we all knew he’d be back for next season. I guess when Peter stressed he was under evaluation as well, Nicholson thought he needed to clarify immediately that the evaluation was over…

    My take is there will be coaches fired and the team will push hard for playoffs next season. I don’t think Nicholson would make a good GM/Poker player. In the New Year he said Oilers desperately need a right shot d-man for powerplay and now he more or less said Peter’s job is in jeopardy if they don’t compete for playoffs next season. PC can’t win a trade on good day, how’s he going to win one now?

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    That was the biggest waste of my time. Scratch that, that was the biggest waste of everyone else time. When this started, I was doing photos for the #jerseysforhumboldt campaign, but when I came back, I heard what I needed to hear. This already disappointing season just got 10x worse.

    “Death by a thousand cuts”? This is one of them.

  • CMG30

    Lets be honest; Nicholson, Chirelli and the lot of ’em have a primary goal of making money not building a winning team. It’s not until the two are connected that we’re going to see results.

    Personally, I will not buy a ticket or any Oiler merch until I see real progress on and off the ice. They’re not going anywhere… the arena deal locked them into the city for 35 years…

  • Derian Hatcher

    Next time just bring in the Iraqi information minister. He would be more believable.

    So let me get this straight…we fans are supposed believe this garbage and have confidence that these clowns know what they are doing and have a Plan ????

    Yup, we re just a bunch of slack jawed gawkers that will buy what they’re selling. How do these guys even look themselves in the mirror? I wish I had season tickets to NOT renew but I guess I ll have to live vicariously through Gary.

  • Cowboy Bill

    DO YOU KNOW WHAT ? I hate that saying . But….. DO YOU KNOW WHAT ? Get rid of both Nicholson & Chiarelli and the Oilers organization will be far better off . It’s becoming a bad joke .

  • Heschultzhescores

    These two guys really aren’t that bright, and they think we’re dumb enough to buy into their sales pitch. He talked about a plan as the season was falling apart, and that plan obviously didn’t work. Now read carefully what he Actually said of “THE PLAN”. “We’ll have a plan coming up in the near future about how we move forward.” He actually didn’t say they have a plan, he said they have one coming up, meaning they don’t even have a plan. So I guess they are planning on making a plan. What a bunch of double-talkers. Can we not do better than this? Geez! Get ’em ALL GONE! Imbeciles, all of them!

  • Edmonton Eulers

    Given Chiarelli’s track record of running this team, I can’t wait to see the results of his ongoing “review.” With the way that all the brass dances around questions, what’s the point in even doing these talks with the media?

    In regards to the fan experience, it sucks for us fans, but for the guys running the team, what incentive is there to improve it? The seats are still filling up, so why not continue to jack up prices and keep things status quo. People will keep buying what they’re selling.

  • Heschultzhescores

    In Oilerland you can totally suck at your job and you keep it, and often promotions will follow. Do we have to wonder why it’s 11 of 12 year out of the playoffs. Yes, we are the worst of all teams currently in the NHL with that stat. But everyone keeps their job…Whooo Hooo! Crack another bottle 80’s vintage wine….mmmm tastes like victory but you still wake up a loser.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    What I had a problem with was that Chia pretty much blamed everything on everyone but himself yesterday, and he is “the man” in charge of evaluating everyone now and deciding who to punish for his mistakes….

    I know McLellan has his issues as a coach too, but to trade away talent, not utilize cap space to replace said talent, gamble on a bunch of guys that haven’t really done anything yet, etc…. and then blame Todd, really!?

    This is like sending Todd into a war, but prior to that you take away all his weapons and armor, and then get mad when he gets killed in the line of duty, REALLY!?

    …then Bob has to have his OWN presser……. on a separate day…. to just say “I agree with Chia, and ill open the floor for some questions……” …..REALLY!!??

    …..life of an Oiler fan

    • Heschultzhescores

      Yup, I was gonna say, why do we do it? Then I thought about it.. and it’s more, why do THEY do it? We don’t set the course of the team, we just blindly support while they blindly lead.

  • corky

    Tell us how you really feel BM! Boom! Awesome! Now if only the MSM could write an article this good. Fans want added value but the Oil just dont seem to care. The top brass probably all ask their white collar golf buddies how the game experience is, are told its great and leave it at that. They do crap like Garth Brooks banners and pat themselves on the backs for various events brought in. Don’t be surprised if some hired suits come to your door BM and “influence” you to start drinking the OEG koolaid.

  • 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.

  • Hemmercules

    I get a kick out of everyone expecting this amazing speech, answering all your dying questions about the team and the direction. What Gm or president has ever given that speech?? They obviously aren’t going to tell us whats happening back stage. People want him and Chia to outright take the blame right in front of the media, when has that ever happened either? Anywhere, not just Edmonton. That gets you fired and I’m guessing these guys want to keep working here or they would have left already.

    I especially love the media guys that waste their questions on something stupid they know he wont answer. Someone basically asked, “Are you thinking about firing the coaches or just some of them?” Seriously, did the guy asking that think Bob was going to actually say it outright before even notifying the guys getting fired? Gregor at least seems to ask things that get somewhat of an answer.

    I have been watching these same press conferences for 15 to 20 years. Always the same. Different faces, same answers. We are evaluating, obviously we are disappointed, sorry I cant answer that here, we feel we have some good players here, we don’t want to blow this up, I have faith in this guy and that guy, we are all under scrutiny here, we have a plan to fix this but we cant really tell you that plan, things will be better next year, yada yada yada.

  • NealH

    Although not pushing my opinion here, I’d formed the opinion some time ago that Bob Nicholson was good for the organization. This ended that.
    I still believe Todd needs another chance with better assistants; however that he was in jeopardy because a new GM might want his own coach. It is hugely concerning the one most culpable, (Chiarelli), is getting off scot free, and that his boss cannot discern the problems and causes. This talk of assessment and a plan is the same bs as from the Tambellini days.
    I can only leave you with Will Smith’s line from Concussion: “Tell the truth…tell the truth!”

  • VK63

    The arrogance of the Oilers organization is unsettling.

    For a good read. an excerpt from NHL.com when Chia got fired in Boston.

    “Boston was handicapped by its proximity to the NHL salary cap from the start of the season. Because of bonuses paid to forward Jarome Iginla, who left for the Colorado Avalanche as an unrestricted free agent last summer, and a few players on entry-level deals in 2013-14, the Bruins had to deal with a cap-charge overage of $4.8 million this season.

    Days before the start of the season, Boston traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders for draft picks in order to become cap compliant. Clearly, that trade didn’t earn Chiarelli any points with his bosses.

    “Let me answer this way: I have never interfered with our GMs’ ability to make a trade. We work on a very … call it ‘consultative process’ in terms of how we make a decision,” Jacobs said. “And fairly certain if Peter were standing up here right now and you asked him was he ever prevented from making a trade by me or Cam or anyone, I’m certain he would say ‘no.’

    “So we need to empower the GM to fulfill his job to the best of his abilities and not meddle in that regard. When it comes, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and the product that he delivers on the ice and what’s left. So we did spend quite a bit in terms of getting Jarome. It did put us in a tough and sticky situation come September. There were a number of options that were sort of flown by the group about how we get compliant and left the decision up to Peter and his group. And that’s not to imply I’d have to vet it. I didn’t. It was just, ‘What you think is best.'”

  • Axe

    What a massive disappointment that conference turned out to be.. Why not have Nicholson speak first if al he is gonna do is give chairelli a vote of confidence and the have chia drop his wisdom on us a week or so later when he knows what’s gonna happen with coaching staff … Why give us false hope that some changes were in the works by scheduling this today