Oilers aren’t helping Chiarelli

Bob Nicholson is the CEO of the Oilers Entertainment Group, which consists of sports and entertainment entities. Under the OEG umbrella is the Edmonton Oilers, the Bakersfield Condors, the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Oil Country Championship (golf tournament), and the OEG operates Rogers Place. Las week, Nicholson announced Peter Chiarelli would be staying on in his role as General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, and he would be assessing the coaches and every other facet of the Edmonton Oilers.

“I really believe in his (Chiarelli) plan. There has been anger and disappointment about where they ended up and we certainly understand. We’ll have a plan coming up in the near future about how we move forward,” Nicholson said at his press conference last week.

Nicholson said the Oilers are “assessing” the coaching staff, and I was a bit taken aback by the comment. The Oilers were out of the playoffs, unofficially, for the final two months of the season. Chiarelli was watching the games, I presume, so shouldn’t he know what he has in the coaching staff? How much evaluating does he have to do, I asked.

Well, it turns out Chiarelli has more evaluating to do than I thought, and some off it has nothing to do with the Oilers.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I’ve learned Chiarelli is not only evaluating everything in the Oilers, he is also doing an overview of their AHL team, the Condors, and will be doing a review of the Edmonton Oil Kings. I understand why he’d have a say in the AHL, considering they are directly related to the Oilers, but why is he spending one second focusing on the Oil Kings? It makes little sense. The Oil Kings players have no connection to the Oilers, unless they are drafted by them, and currently no roster player is an Oiler draft pick.

Being an NHL GM is difficult, but why would you want him taking time away from the NHL and AHL teams to focus on how the WHL team is doing? I understand the Oil Kings are part of the OEG, but the connection is mainly financial. I know the Oilers coaches speak with Steve Hamilton and his staff from time-to-time, which makes sense because they are likely discussing hockey tactics, and the NHL coaching staff has more experience and tips to pass on.

I’m told meetings and interviews are planned with coaches from all three teams later this month and into early May. I realize Chiarellie isn’t involved heavily with the Oil Kings during the season, but to be involved in any form now is perplexing to me. How does it make the Oilers better?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Does Chiarelli watch enough Oil Kings games to have an accurate opinion on how they are being coached or managed? Is he spending hours digging into their drafting record? If so, this is taking precious time away from what should be his main focus: running the Oilers.

The Calgary Flames own the Calgary Hitmen, but Flames GM Brad Treliving did not conduct a year-end review. Nor should he. Two sources in Calgary confirmed Treliving has almost nothing to do with the Hitmen.

The Oilers and Flames are the only two NHL franchises who own a major junior hockey team. No other GM in the NHL is handling a review of teams other than their NHL, AHL and ECHL team, if they have one.


Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli makes the Oilers pick of Connor McDavid (not pictured) in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Chiarelli’s title and responsibility on the Oilers website says: “Peter Chiarelli is the President & GM, Hockey Operations in the OEG Executive structure, responsible for Oilers, Oil Kings and Bakersfield hockey operations.”

Over the past decade, the Oilers have been the worst franchise in the NHL, and one of the worst in NHL history. During Chiarelli’s three years in Edmonton, the Oilers have accumulated the 24th most points. They have made the playoffs once, and weren’t close the other two years.

Is it really in Chiarelli’s best interests to be spending time, regardless of how little, on the Oil Kings?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

No other GMs in the league do. So I ask again: how is this benefiting him? I see no benefit, and if it takes two, five or ten percent of his time away from the Oilers, then it is a mistake.

He should be spending all his time focusing on scouting, developing and ensuring their AHL affiliate will be more competitive and better suited to develop players, and trying to make the Oilers a competitive NHL team.

I’m sorry, but the OEG’s decision to have Chiarelli overseeing the WHL team, even in small spurts reeks of arrogance. I don’t see how he can have enough time to do it properly. And winning in the WHL is damn hard as well. To win you need people who are 100% committed to every facet of their team. Chiarelli can’t be that committed.

His main job should be making the Oilers competitive. They aren’t, so I’d have him focused solely on teams who can directly lead to wins for the Oilers.

The OEG should ask itself: how does having Chiarelli involved in the Oil Kings make the Oilers better? Quick answer: it doesn’t.

Is Jim Rutherford doing this in Pittsburgh? Is David Poile in Nashville? Doug Wilson in San Jose?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The answer is no. These GMs took their teams to the Stanley Cup Finals the past two seasons. They weren’t spending time focusing on things which do not improve their NHL team’s chances of winning.

Did Chiarelli do this when he was the GM with the Boston Bruins and they made two Stanley Cup appearances? Nope. So why now?


Email sent from: “Grant, Rob” [email protected] Subject: gettychiarelli Date: 12 April, 2015 8:14:40 PM EDT Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 25: General Manager of the Boston Bruins Peter Chiarelli attends the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Being an NHL GM is very difficult, and it is even more difficult to build a consistent winner, never mind a Stanley Cup Champion. You win in the NHL by focusing on NHL drafting, developing and making good signings and trades.

The Oilers were not a competitive team this year. They don’t get the benefit of the doubt when they have their GM do unorthodox things.

Winning organizations eliminate distractions, and no offence to the Oil Kings, but Chiarelli should not be focused on their success. That is Randy Hansch’s job (current GM), and from a business standpoint, Bob Nicholson or Stew MacDonald should be the ones focused on the bottom line.

Leave Chiarelli to focus on the Oilers. Based on their recent play, it is clear they need his undivided attention.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • CMG30

    Explains why oilers are so high on the guys in their junior systems. They spend all there time with them instead of keeping their impressions arms length so as to be able to compare all junior players league wide in an impartial manner.

  • Just facts

    There may be lots of reasons to be critical of Oilers management but this isn’t one of them. It’s part of his job description which is one of the reasons presumably that his title isn’t just “GM”, there is no indication that the time he’ll spend on the Oil Kings will be material, and even in a situation with as much at stake as the next steps for the Oilers the “law of diminishing returns” applies to the time spent on analysis. In fact looking at other things like the Oil Kings situation that is completely outside of what the core need is can be useful in creating better perspective. Billion dollar organizations realize those realities, no reason they don’t apply to the Oilers too. Chia has done (or not done) enough to warrant significant criticism, no need to make a mountain out of a molehill with something so immaterial.

  • FireChiarelliPlease

    The only move in Chiarelli’s career that turned out favorable was trading Kessel for a draft pick that was Tyler Seguin. He also traded Seguin immediately after winning a cup and mismanaged Boston so poorly that he was let go.

    We never should have picked up their scraps, he’s a terrible manager in every sense of it, and he trades away every player he can for the first sack of pucks someone offers him. Usually it’s from the Islanders.


  • camdog

    When PC was first hired GM Craig Mactavish was “the number 2 guy” May 1, 2015. On Sept 12, 2015 PC officially announced Graig Mactavish as Vice President of Hockey Operations with main duties including taking a lead role in the Bakersfield Condors and Pro Scouting. As of the Edmonton Oilers management page there is a Blurb about Scott Howson working with Craig Mactavish in respect to over seeing the AHL and ECHL team, but no information on Craig Mactavish’s job description relating to Bakersfield?

    I’m curious if Mactavish/Howson’s role on team has decreased over the last 3 years? I do find it interesting that PC appears to be auditing what was at one time appeared to be their responsibilities.

  • BringitbacklikeSlats

    I’ll take a stab at the why.

    Could it be that they get him to focus on the other franchises because he doesn’t really call the shots???
    I had it confirmed by a grade A reporter in town a few years ago that Tambellini was simply a straw man and that The 3 Mouskateers (Lowe, MacT, and Howson) called the shots behind the scenes. I have no real reason to believe it’s any different now no matter what they say. The Spec piece on the Red Wine Summits basically confirms it.

    George Orwell could have written in this 18 year debacle under Kevin Lowe into Animal Farm. No problem.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Same way Neeley called the shots in Boston.
      Neeley wanted Seguin gone. There is a you-tube vid out there showing the call to Dallas, that was clearly forced by Neeley.

  • Admiralmark

    Gregor you seem to be getting closer to the realization they are incompetent. They make poor decisions at almost every level including talent assessment and this but 1 more addition to the idiocy that comes from Katz-Nicholson et al. I find it shocking only when they get something right.. Like say RNH.. They seem uninterested in trading him now. Now is that because they assessed him properly or is it because late in the season out of pure desperation they decided to think outside they’re box and stick Nuge with McD? I know the answer. And it’s not a sign they are getting any wiser. Pathetic management team.

  • Mantooth

    I don’t you believe you have done your homework on this one. There is zero chance that Chiarelli has anything to do with Oil Kings and you’re digging deep into what you believe, just to write an article. I’m pretty sure the common sense telling you this is stupid. The same common sense every reader is thinking, is the same thought process shared by every member of the OEG. This is a business and I’m sorry but stupid people don’t run successful business (and I’m not talking about the product on the ice). If you have proof of this, great, share it. But don’t come up with some story just for the sake of writing something and lure us all in with a catchy title. I want my 10 min back

  • Spaceman Spiff

    There are 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. The Oilers have plenty of problems for Chiarelli to deal with, but I’m not entirely convinced that he can’t find the time to dedicate a few hours in a calendar-year to have some high-level meetings with the Oil Kings’ brass.

    “Is Jim Rutherford doing this in Pittsburgh? Is David Poile in Nashville? Doug Wilson in San Jose?” Well no, but that’s also pretty specific group of GMs to cite as case-law.

    There are two big examples in the NHL where the hockey operations people have roles that intersect with other parts of the business. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment own the Leafs, the Raptors, the Argonauts, and Toronto FC. I think you can be reasonable certain that both Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello are required to spend a few hours out of their year (or likely more) attending meetings, conducting business and performing duties that have nothing to do with the on-ice performance of their team.

    The Madison Square Garden Company and MSG Networks owns the Rangers, the New York Knicks, and the New York Liberty of the WNBA. My guess is that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton and team prez Glen Sather have been assigned additional responsibilities beyond hockey operations.

    But, then again, the Rangers and Leafs aren’t as good as the Sharks or Predators or Penguins and I suppose that’s Jason’s point. But my point is that the Oilers are a giant corporation with all kinds of lines-of-reporting and responsibilities and expectations. There are 31 teams out there and absolutely none of them are alike, in terms of their structure. The Oilers’ corporate structure has faults (and they’ve been well-reported on this site and others), but the four man-hours/year Chiarelli spends talking about the Oil Kings isn’t one of them.

    Let’s cut to the chase here: I don’t think Chiarelli traded Taylor Hall because he was distracted during a meeting to discuss the type of tires the Oil Kings should buy for its bus.

  • Crakupov

    Criticizing Chiarelli for doing any work on the oil kings is akin to Criticizing Jason Gregor abut posting on Oilers nation and also going on the 1260 radio. Why is he even spending 5-10% of his time on Oilers nation if this takes away time from Radio 1260?

    The radio 1260 management team should ask itself: how does having Gregor involved in the Oilersnation site make the 1260 radio show better? Answer it doesn’t. STAY FOCUSED!

  • toprightcorner

    Stupidest thing I ever heard, that’s like the owner of a construction company who does a review of the operations of the company who supplies their hard hats. The Oil Kings success has absolutely nothing to do with the Oilers success, especially if you look at the past Oil Kings the Oilers have drafted or traded for.

    Only way this makes sense is if they planned to use the Oil Kings to trade for every prospect the Oilers drafted so they can regularly work on their development personally. That would be awesome, could you imagine Yamamoto, Maximov, Benson, Hebig and Skinner all on the Oil Kings? They would sell 15,000 tickets a night.

  • Svart kaffe

    Chiarelli doesn’t have to worry about the Oilers. Just read the comments on Oilersnation (or Henderson’s articles!) for the correct answers and make them happen: trade Lucics bulletproof contract, low-ball all of our RFA:s and sign every expensive free agent there is. It’s easy! Everybody with NHL ’18, a Fantasy Team or a Complete Lack of Real Management Experience know this!

  • OnDaWagon

    Jason, the biggest problem holding the Oilers back from becoming respectable, is DARRYL KATZ. He needs to go. I mean that, he really needs to go.

    He seemed like a blessing, at the time of purchase. He has been nothing short of a curse.