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.

Could Peter Chiarelli wind up in Arizona?

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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Kaplan

    Gregor, I like your work, but holy smokes, dude, chill. You guys are constantly pearl-clutching over the lack of player development and the farm system, and now that Chiarelli’s going to have a look, you’ve completely lost it. So a ‘source’ (exciting!) told you the Flames are not conducting a review. So? Maybe they don’t need to. What about the other 30 teams? How often do NHL GMs take a look at their farm system?

    How is this a bad news story? What is wrong with taking a structural look at your minor league teams?

    • Jason Gregor

      Kaplan, you realize Oil Kings have no connection to player development. Those players do not belong to Oilers. They need to be drafted. Chance Oilers draft one are low, and even lower that one pans out.

      I never said Flames aren’t having a review. I said their GM, Treliving, will not be reviewing their WHL team, the Hitmen.

      I don’t think you understand the concept of farm team. The Condors are the farm team, and of course Chiarelli should oversee them, I wrote that. The Oil Kings are not part of the farm team.

      I don’t think you realize Oilers don’t own WHL players. They run the team, the players are able to be drafted by every NHL team.

      • Kaplan

        I totally realize the Oil Kings are not part of the system, but where is the harm for Chiarelli to go and have a look at the system in place? There’s nothing wrong with an organizational review, and if the Oil Kings are doing something right, then apply it to the Condors or even the Oilers.

        There’s so much Chiarelli has done wrong. A broad-based review of their farm system (and yes, I know the OK are not part of the farm system) is completely fair, and freaking out about him taking a look at the WHL team his company owns is not cause for full-scale rioting in the streets.

    • Hemmercules

      I see where you are coming from but the Oil Kings are not the farm team. They have Zero to do with the Oilers unless the Oilers draft one of their players. Even then, they would have one player on the team, why waste the GM’s time??

      That said. This article seems like a slight over reaction. Just because he’s doing an overview of that team doesn’t mean its taking major time away from the two teams that really matter. How do we know Chia isn’t just putting in a couple days on this and moving on?? Has it been said anywhere that he’s spending weeks on this?? For all we know his assessment could be one or two days. The NHL playoffs are on and the Oilers are not in it so Chia should have some extra time on his hands for the next month. Chia is already on the payroll so I don’t see a huge issue with having him do a quick assessment of that team as long as its not eating up major amounts of time.

      WTF does a GM do at this time of year anyway when the team is on the golf course?? Its not like he’s working trades and signing contracts 24/7.

    • Oilman99

      The Oil Kings have a GM, let him do his job. Chia needs to spend his time solely on the Oilers mess he has created. There are enough guys in the GOB group to look after Bakersfield.Do the job you were hired to do.

      • Hemmercules

        Going off the job description that Gregor posted, he’s doing the job they hired him to do in assessing all the teams.

        Reading the article a second time, Gregor took 1 quote from Bob and a job description from the website and made a bunch of assumptions. Anyone who didn’t already have their pitchfork out for this team might join the movement after reading this I guess. In actuality we have no idea how much time Chia is actually spending on this. They obviously value his input and they pay him so I don’t really see this as such a massive issue at this time of year.

    • Mel Kozun

      Explain to me how any involvement in the Oil Kings helps Oilers player development??? Explain how losing Derek Laxdal and BobGreen is “Oilers development”??

    • 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 ….

  • OilersBro

    This article just pissed me off about the Oilers incompetence. If any other team in the league had McDavid and Hall and just did the status quo for everything else, they would be champs

  • Kepler62c

    This probably isn’t a big deal… relax. Just because it says he’s overviewing the Oil Kings too and there’s been some comments about it doesn’t mean he’s spending hours a day on the phone making Jr. trades and inquiries. He might simply be in charge of whoever is doing that stuff, also Bob Nicholson has been in hockey a long time and was brought in for a reason. If he feels this isn’t too much on one persons plate then I’m inclined to agree.

  • 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.


  • 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!

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.