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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

  • Rama Lama

    The “Peter Plan”………should have him playing a Michael Jackson song……..say “Man in the Mirror”, and then promptly firing himself first.

    The guy could not pull off a meaningful trade ever in his career……..that did not have him severely overpaying.

  • StarvinBuffalo

    I 100% agree with this article. HOW do you trust Peter to fix this??!
    So what happens when he fires Todd, hires a new coach and we suck again next year? Then do we fire Peter and the new GM brings in his own coaching assignment? Kind of sound like HOPE 2.0 failed.

    • TruthHurts98

      This was the first year of DOD 2.0. Playoffs won’t happen next year or any year with these idiots running the team. Start planning top 5 draft party for next year. He’ll probably trade Nuge too. Nicholson needs to go as well.

  • tbone

    I feel your pain Oiler fans. Been there done that. Grew up in the 50’s and 60’s watching my Leafs. I remember my team actually winning the Cup, the last one in 1967. I suffered thru Ballard, Imlach, Burke, Nonis, Ferguson Jr.
    I watched great players, Sittler, Vaive, McDonald, Clark (2x), Sundin, get used and abused throughout their careers by incompetent managers and owners.
    The good thing is that it will get better. 51 years and counting now but boy do I ever have hope today. Cheer up guys, 51 years isn’t that long.

    • Maggie the Monkey

      As a long term fan of the Oilers who has lived most of his life in Ontario, I’d like to draw attention to this poignant comment.

      In the history of the Oilers, what percentage of it has had strong management? What percentage of it has had average or incompetent management? And how does this ratio change if we look only at the post Stanley Cup years?

  • Consultant

    Complete bull****.
    Chia gets completely ripped on the big deals three years in a row but he stays cause he is good at other less visible things like assembling scouts…
    Don’t ya think having a GM that can made a trade is also a valuable asset? So what is Chia’s next move? He hints at moving our 1st rounder, right back to year one of his failure streak. Screw you Bobby.

  • Drinking my Oilers problems away...

    I don’t get how this guy has held a hockey job ever. He gets way too much credit for what he actually did with Hockey Canada. It wasn’t him necessarily building it up but he acted like he did, he actually reminds me of the kid who would show up at the end of group project in school, not contribute much and still take the credit…

    Oh and looks like some of the media tried to ask some tougher questions today, Hallsy seemed a little peeved lol.

  • Jimmer

    Who cares what was said…actions speak louder than words. Get the necessary pieces we all know we need without getting bent over a barrel and we will be fine. Connor will take care of the rest.

    • Garett14

      Once you get bent over the barrel, there is no going back. You are forever that guy who gets bent over the barrel. Chiarelli is dealing in desperation now and the other 30 GM’s will smell the stench from a mile away.

  • Oiler Al

    B.M., love your overview of these “pressers”. Calling a spade a spade, with a little humor.Well done lad.
    PS: Big reward if you can hi-jack that “The Plan” folder from Nicholsons office. Don’t worry about pages falling out …. its empty.

  • tbone

    It’s time for a revolt Edmonton. The only person that can actually do something is Katz. Send protest rallies to Katz Group in Edmonton. Use your Twitter accts, Facebook accts, email accts, whatever accts you got, and bombard Katz, Katz Group, their customers, boards of directors, whatever. Call a public meeting of all season ticket holders. get some kind of agreement from them that they will withhold their attendance and then not re-up for more if Nicholson and Chia hold employment with the Oilers.
    All people who do attend games next year should be encouraged to wear paper bags on their heads and not make a sound during the games, don’t cheer, don’t buy anything from the concessions, don’t buy any souvenirs.
    Make ownership understand that as long as these clowns are running the Oilers then you’re going to hurt them financially.
    You have the power! Use it!!!!

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    When Todd spoke, I felt like Princess Leia when she lied to Tarkin about the location of the rebel base, hopeful that all would be alright. When Chiarelli spoke, I felt like Leia when the Death Star started its blast sequence. And even though I didn’t catch all of it, I now feel like Leia, having watched my home world of Alderaan be obliterated. This is what has happened in the last 2 days. My hope has been completely shattered and I don’t now when I’ll get it back again.

  • crabman

    I find it interesting he doesn’t even want to talk about why they brought in Coffey. Over on sportsnet there is an article that claims the Coffey hire came from above McLellan and Chiarelli. And suggests the Coffey hire was devised during alumni post game strategizing dubbed “the red wine summits”.
    Of course this article was written by Spector and he’s an idiot, and has some stupid opinions, but I highly doubt he would just blatantly make this up out of thin air.

  • D'oh-ilers

    I think his press conference was more to just end the speculation of Chiarelli’s status with the team than anything else. He could have done that with a simple press release though.

  • rivid

    The problem is oiler fans are so frustrated with the lack of direction. As specs pointed out today he believes that the old boys are running the show and their poor decisions continue to haunt this team. I’m not sure firing chiarelli is the right thing to do. I believe the right thing to do is remove all former players from the current position and send them packing, because as long as they are there articles and speculation will continue.

      • crabman

        @Corbs, the point Spector was making (the article rigid is referencing) is the old boys club still has more say than they should, ie the Coffey hire came from above Chiarelli. Spector is referring to this as “the red wine summits”. The post game strategizing by the Oiler alumni. He makes it sound like as long as the old boys club still has Katz ear the GM will never have full control over his club. This totally undermines any GM and POHO.
        I personally think Chiarelli should be gone but it is also time to gut the team of all former players. The team has 1 playoff appearances in 12 seasons. Having the old boys around obviously aren’t adding value to the team so there is no reason to keep them around either.

        • Corbs

          I get what you’re saying and don’t necessarily disagree. That said…I’d fire Nicholson and Chia and hire Bill Guerin as gm. I’d give him full control. Then it doesn’t matter if the old boys are around because they’d be here just for show. I don’t want them making decisions but I love the Once an Oiler, always an Oiler.

  • Fire Woodcroft!

    I almost agree with everything Baggedmilk wrote and the majority of opinions posted. Chiarelli has a few good moves under his belt and a solid legacy of questionable calls at best. The Oilers organization suffers what would be a fatal case of Arrogance in any non-Canadian market. You don’t have to look any further to see that than the fact that they raised tIcket prices again after a sewer of a season like this one.

    Where I disagree is on McLellan. No way he gets off just because Chiarelli is bad at his job too. Todd and his assistants failed at even the simple aspects of their job this year like having players ready to start at minute 1 of the games – or having players understand simple concepts like how t receive a pass. And the special teams?!! How do you have such a historically bad PP with tha best player in the league?!! That’s not on Chiarelli.

    Yeah Chia’s bad. True story. But I see some shade being thrown for McLellan and he doesn’t deserve it.

  • ed from edmonton

    So the question at hand to be discussed is should the coaching staff stay either as individuals or as a group. We know Katz isn’t selling the team, Bob Nich and PC are not going anywhere, so venting about any of these guys is a waste of time. I would like to see one or more than one of the ON contrubutors giving us their thoughts on the question at hand.

  • Thanks for the great ideas guys here’s what I’m gonna do
    1. Order folder
    2. Order label maker
    3. Print ‘Top Secret Plan’ label
    4. Attach label to folder
    5. Wait for Shero and Snow to call with their next amazing offer!
    That’s all I got, for now.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    This is the organization that keeps promoting Scott Howson.

    There are just too many bad things going on here to have much hope for significant change. The owner loves hanging out with his boyhood heroes much more than he loves winning, they’re generating ridiculous amounts of cash from terrible hockey, and the MSM continues to do a piss-poor job of holding their feet to the fire. There’s a reason that Brian Burke gushes about how reasonable the Calgary and Edmonton media are.

  • toprightcorner

    Nicholson said the plan for the team would be unveiled. I don’t expect a detailed plan to in place until after the playoffs and even then, I would expect them to give a general idea of the plan and not a detailed blow by blow of what they will do.

    If you are expecting a step by step list of what the plan will be, you can stop being delusional now. Nobody should expect great details but we can expect a rough idea of the direction.

  • 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.

  • McDavid's Comet

    This is the same OBC narrative as every other yr.. I’ve said it here before, Nicholson and Charelli are “puppets on strings” for K.Lowe and co.. Oiler fans have got to stop buying season tickets and merchandise. When Katz isn’t making the money perhaps then he will decide that the OBC management clown show will have to go to appease the fans. Stop spending 14,000$ on season tickets and then another 250-300$ every game for crap entertainment, terrible, high priced food and drink. It’s how Katz makes his money and justifies OBC employment. Become teir 2 fans, watch the games at home, stop supporting the team financially.

  • Oilman99

    The verbal diarrhoea of Nicholson makes it look like the train wreck will continue to make this franchise the laughing stock of the league. I see Mc D asking for a trade in three years. Another ten years of no playoff hockey. God help us all.

  • camdog

    The sad part is Peter Chiarelli isn’t even in the top 5 of people that need to be fired first. Kevin Lowe, Craig Mactavish, Scott Howson, the assistant coaches, Bob Nicholson. Heck Todd Mclellan isn’t even in the top 5 either.

  • IceMan11

    As a lifelong fan, I’m a lot more than just disappointed! Fed up would be more appropriate. Totally fed up with inept Ownership, Management and Coaching(although I still think TM is a good Coach).
    Fans only have ONE avenue to show how fed up they are. Stop buying tickets, going to games, or buying any Oiler merchandise.
    Convince sponsors to end their relationship with the Team.
    Then, and only then, will they listen and respond and do something positive for this Organization.