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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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:

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    This is mind-boggling and further proof that the higher-ups (Katz, Nicholson) in the Oilers organization have no idea how to operate an NHL franchise.

  • pretty repetitive article. it just repeats over and over that Chiarelli shouldn’t be concerned with the Oil Kings. Which is true. But why simply repeat it so many times. You made your point in the first 2 paragraphs.

  • 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.

  • Derian Hatcher

    In my opinion, as I closely follow the Oil Kings, Randy Hansch and Steve Hamilton have a firm hand on the Junior team and know what they are doing.
    In high school I operated a forklift in a warehouse as a part time job. Loading and unloading expensive machines with a forklift is not easy. Doing it efficiently within centimeters is very difficult. I got so sick of my boss standing beside the forklift telling me what to do that one day, I finally asked him if he know how to operate a fork lift. He just stared at me, so I got off the forklift and motioned to him to get on. He just walked away, never to advise me again on how to do my job.

    For some reason, I don’t think Katz, Bobby Nick etc. know how to operate a forklift.

    • Odanada

      The OBC should discuss that analogy over a few glasses of red wine. I’m guessing they would have special insights and stories that would become less relevant as more glasses were poured.The night might even finish up over cigars while debating which road prank was the greatest ever. Those were good times..

    • Mel Kozun

      Seriously??? You “closely follow the EOK”??? If you truly did you’d know the EOK is a disaster … Hansch is clueless and Hamilton runs a team full of “coaches pets” and “coaches doghouse”. Ask yourself why players are asking to be traded??? Why are they having trouble recruiting???

      Hansch and Hamilton are soon to be unemployed ….

      • Derian Hatcher

        It would appear, Mel, that you and I disagree on this subject. I have different information than you. Is Brandon related to you? If so, perhaps his information / experiences differ from those that I have spoken to. Or perhaps, those that I know are the “coaches pets” as you call them. Either way, if what you state is actually fact, it is truly unfortunate.

  • 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

  • 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.


  • Peter Chiarelli

    The Oil Kings are in a heavy division. They have to build a big and tough team. You have to be able wear down the opposition. From now on the Oil Kings will play a “heavy” brand of hockey.

    • Mel Kozun

      Nicholson made his name running Hockey Canada when he had his pick of the best NHL coaches and players and his pick of the best Junior coaches and players …. a blind monkey can do that ….

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    So you are mad about PC’s job description on the Oiler website. Is this something that changed in the last few days or something that has been there for years that you just found out?

    Seems to be this article appears to be poor timing.

  • 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.

  • gordo

    here’s my thought Katz Regime hockey chiefs are utter morons; or maybe, in a few days bobby bo banny will hold a presser saying that chia will manage only the kings

  • btrain

    Its mind bottling that he would have anything to do with the Oil Kings. He seems barely competent in his current role so expanding his duties seems like a horrible plan. But I think he needs less time spent looking within and much more time getting in sync with current NHL trends.

    For example we just witnessed England, Schmidt, McNabb, and Theodore outclass a bonafide 1st pairing guy in Doughty. Last year we witnessed the Penguins win the cup without anything resembling a top pairing defensemen. The trend seems increasingly towards a collective core of competent, but not necessarily elite, D men who are able to buy in and execute a system at a high pace. Yet Chiarelli is dangling his 1st rnd pick for D men he likes around the league. I can only hope he is not planning on big game hunting and sacrificing more of this teams future in an attempt to save himself.

    Not everything is loom and gloom with the Oilers but the management group, yet again, continues to disappoint. I can only hope that whatever plan of Chia’s Bob is referring to, is different than the original plan, which has cost this team dearly already for, above all else, not having any clue of the direction this league is headed (evidence by his bleeding out dynamic speed and skill for toughness and size).