Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports


Long-suffering fans of the Edmonton Oilers are screaming at the top of their lungs in frustration again after watching the Oilers continue to stagger toward the New Year with a fifth straight loss, this time by a flattering 7-4 score against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Place. I wonder, does owner Daryl Katz hear you?

People in the mainstream media, often depicted as being too soft on the team and its management with all the failure we’ve seen since the 2006 Stanley Cup final, are taking some roundhouse swings too. Likewise, the growing numbers of bloggers, who have never been shy about criticizing team brass, are demanding that something be done as the Oilers slide out of playoff contention. I wonder, does Katz hear them?

More important than that, I wonder if Katz cares about what is being written and said about his team, about all the criticism being directed at GM Peter Chiarelli, who is in his fourth season calling the shots and has built a team results tell us isn’t any better than the one he inherited? Does Katz care enough to do something about it? It seems not.

I found myself wondering yesterday in the wake of the loss to San Jose: might that change if Connor McDavid privately walked into Katz’s office and suggested that either things have to improve, and right now, or he’d prefer to play elsewhere instead of wasting the prime of his career spinning his wheels with an organization that can’t seem to get it right? Would that get Katz’s attention? I bet it would. Will it ever come to that? I hope not.

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I’m not talking about staging some public firefight between ownership/management and players like we’ve seen in recent days with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn in Dallas. That’s business best kept behind closed doors within the organization, in my opinion. That’s not the road any successful team goes down regardless of how valid the sentiment might be. If you use that bullet, you’ve got nothing left to put in the chamber if it misses the mark.

I’m talking about a private and honest meeting of the minds involving McDavid, now toiling in his fourth season with the Oilers, and Katz. Include Bob Nicholson if you’d like, although he’s under fire by virtue of his hiring and public backing, to this point, of Chiarelli, who tweaked the roster today by sending out a draft pick and Chris Wideman for Alex Petrovic.

I don’t know what McDavid thinks about the job Chiarelli has done building the edition of the Oilers he sees around him. I don’t know that McDavid feels like he’s spinning his wheels. I’ve never asked him about it privately or in a scrum situation. I’m not around the team enough anymore to ask that question, not that he’d tell me or anybody else toting a notepad or packing a microphone. I’m no insider. And that’s fine.

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Is what seem obvious to you and me – Chiarelli has bled talent in his biggest trades, been hit-and-miss at best in other acquisitions and assembled a team without enough scoring and defensive depth – obvious to McDavid? After all, it’s McDavid, along with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has to play out of this world to give the Oilers a chance to win. I think Chiarelli has failed miserably. I think his failure cost coach Todd McLellan his job. I like the move to bring Petrovic in, but I have no confidence Chiarelli will make all the changes this roster needs to be good enough under Ken Hitchcock.


If Hitchcock, the third-winningest coach in NHL history behind only Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville, can’t get this team into the playoffs, nobody can. If Hitchcock, now 9-7-2 after these five straight losses, fails on the heels of McLellan despite having the best player on the planet in McDavid, I’m not looking at the coaches. I’m looking at the player personnel, the roster Chiarelli has assembled.

Hitchcock has been playing the wheels off McDavid and Draisaitl while trying to get by without Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell, but there isn’t enough secondary scoring or depth on the blueline to make it work. The Oilers have allowed 25 goals during the losing streak. The team looked utterly defeated in every way against San Jose. With the Winnipeg Jets coming in Monday, the Oilers haven’t been close to good enough. Hitchcock doesn’t have the horses, and has said as much, without coming right out and saying it, in every post-game availability during the losing streak.

Chiarelli was gifted the Golden Ticket in the form of getting McDavid in the 2015 draft lottery. His only job was to build a contending team around him. By any measure, he has failed to do it. Four years along, is there any other reasonable conclusion? I think not, but what I think doesn’t matter even a little bit to Katz and the hockey-ops people making decisions about what happens next with the Oilers.

What would matter, what would carry real sway in bringing about the decisions that seem obvious from where I sit, is Katz knowing what McDavid, his most valuable employee, sees and thinks about the team he plays for – even without the “or else” component. It shouldn’t have to come to that, but it might.

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Previously by Robin Brownlee

    • BrandieBear

      It’s sad but I honestly think fans need to start chucking their stuff on the ice, chanting fire Chiarelli and not going to games. I don’t think Katz will get the message any other way. I think we need to show our frustration publicly and make them take notice. No team wants to see jerseys thrown on the ice in disgust because it’s broadcast through out the hockey world. I say we start doing that and maybe change will happen out of the desire not to be publicly shamed

  • What the Puck

    Pc has to go. Like now. These Mickey mouse moves are ridiculous. Paying a 3rd and a 6th for a scratch d man is way overpay and should be the final nail in Chias coffin. 4 years and in all honesty you could add mcd to the oilers 4 years ago and they would be a better looking team with tons of cap space. This is ridiculous. It costs 650m to add an nhl team. I mean c’mon this is big business. Oilers are no longer just the laughing stock of the nhl but of the world due to more international coverage. I am truly getting embarrassed to be an oilers fan anymore. Please for the love of pete, fire pete.

    • Alfonso

      A fan on the other site posted this …

      Over the past 14 years (including this season), the Oilers have only won 40.4% of their games. This ranks as the second worst 14 year span winning percentage in the history of professional sports (the worst was the 1927-1940 Philadelphia Athletics of the MLB, who came close to the Oilers with a 40.2% winning percentage).

      If the Oilers lose their next 4 games, they will overtake the Philly Athletics as being the worst team in pro sports over any 14 year span.

    • Todd the electron rod

      The roster is not contending for a cup. It’s a long shot to be a playoff team. Management won’t label it a rebuild. Maybe a tear down? How many players on today’s roster will have their name engraved on the cup?
      Let’s get back to the jersey toss. At least it got somebody’s attention for a short time.

      • OldOilerFan

        Agreed on the jersey toss – it caught national attention last time. Nobody wants to embarrass the team we all want to support, but this is ridiculous. I’d offer my jersey to toss but it’s a McDavid jersey and I don’t want to embarrass such an upstanding and elite player. I’ll chip in for a Talbot or Lucic jersey to toss tho ….

      • winteriscoming

        Remember the promise them gave the first person who threw their jersey on the ice?? They would get playoff tickets, well they are going to have to will that to their great great grand kids.

  • Kelly Youngblood

    Love seeing what every fan has been saying put in print by a credible sports writer. Nevermind Yakupov or Puljujarvi. Chiarelli is the biggest bust signing in the current Oilers era. Mark Hunter should be headed to E-TOWN on Katz private jet tonight. I don’t see a choice other than taking one step back this year in order to take two steps forward next year. Trade Larsson to the Leafs for Kapanen +, Oiler killer Brayden Schenn available ? The look on McDavid’s face shows ne more wasted year before he asks for a trade out of the worst run team in the league.

    • Vanoil

      Like the Hunter Idea as a GM, NOT the Larsson for Kapanen idea. Kapenen could be had for less in the off-season, but how would he re-sign here with the cap hell we have. Better idea would be to shore up the D by trading a pick and a prospect to St. Louis for Parayko. Give up Bear or Russell plus to get it done; if its offense they want we have four young guns spinning their wheels on this team, hell I would trade PJ straight across if it meant a solid d-man. Reasonable cap hit, local boy, can play top four minutes, plays on the right side, and is still well under 30. Done deal.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Sadly Connor won’t waltz into Katz’s office. He’s too humble for that. He won’t pull and Eichel, he won’t pull a Kessel, he won’t do any of that, because he is such a great character.

  • Burnward

    Katz sees: a packed building every night, fans shelling out another hundred grand usually out of their own pockets for 50/50, the ugliest jerseys in the league flying off the shelves and amazing concession sales.

    Until you guys realize you’re the ones getting grifted it will not change.

    He screwed your city once on his sweetheart deal and has found willing suckers to give him all your cash over and over.

    Gretzky is the Savior! Bobby nicks is the Savior! Hitch is the Savior!

    Rinse. Repeating. Cash your life savings.

    • Datsyukian

      Sometimes I wonder if fans continue to go to the games just out of habit, boredom, or perhaps because they feel like they HAVE to go as they have season tickets. The few times I’ve been to the games, I don’t even see that much excitement from the vast majority of fans – they just sit there, chat with each other, chew on their pizza, drink their beers, look at their phones, and hardly make a peep, let alone noise. I’ve never understood why spend that kind of money on something like this, especially to watch a losing team? Don’t those folks have anything better to do?

      • Burnward

        That’s for you guys to figure out.

        Full disclosure, I’m a Flames fan from childhood but the rest of my family are die-hard Oiler fans.

        I get it, but it’s so hard to see them bang their heads against the wall repeatedly.

        I do wish the Flames always beat you, but I hate to see what the Oilers put them through.

      • OldOilerFan

        I think it’s been said on this forum before that a lot of season ticket holders give up a lot of their games these days, holding the tickets for when a good team comes etc, but otherwise they sell off a lot. Hold onto the season tickets in the hopes of playoffs someday, but otherwise minimize the amount of dollars they put towards a mediocre product. So I think that’s what you see at the games, a lot of people buying these tickets that otherwise wouldn’t be available if we were a contender and a product worth watching every night.

          • Burnward

            Sure. We as Oiler fans know this team sucks. So we sell our tickets to fans that spent hundreds, if not thousands to be there and the attempt to love it.

            Was there over Christmas for the Blues game and a couple guys rolled in beside me and proclaimed “it’s like Christmas Eve” by the second intermission they were broken.

        • Derzie

          I’d love to hear an explanation from a working stiff on why spending several hundred dollars and 4 hours of your life for 60 minutes of hockey that is available on every television and computer, in the comfort of your own home. AND sign up to do it 40+ times a year! Why? 10s of thousands of dollars a year to see something in an uncomfortatble setting that you can see at home for pennies on the dollar? And to make it even crazier, how does an Oilers fan, who 6-rings laughs at, do it. The mind boggles. Truly boggles.

  • Leo Tard

    Blah bla bla… bbbblah. This comment section looks and reads identical to last year at this time. The year before that, and the year before that, and wait… it looks like this every year. Forever wandering the desert. I despise Jay Feaster…unfortunately, he was right.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Katz? Katz list- Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Katz doesn’t care! He doesn’t care about the current on-ice product. All he cares about is being with his 80’s buddies! We could have frickin Steve Yzerman as GM and this team would still stink! This is what Edmonton does. We take greatness and turn it to garbage. As long as the money keeps coming, Katz is happy.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Katz cares about the buddies, but lets be real, Katz got into this for the development of the lands around the arena and the casino….Katz is making a killing off the development, and when the casino and entertainment district really comes to fruition Katz will make bundles, the hockey is just a byproduct to get at where the real money is, the development

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      Don’t get me wrong, Katz is a nice guy as it is (I’ve met him a few times). But as long as his 80’s buddies are here, he won’t care what the team does on the ice

      • Butters

        Then give them retirement packages. They were friends before Katz owned the Oilers they can still be buddies after they leave. Palm Spring winters are nice I hear,

  • MrBung

    Not sure why Chia is still here. In any organization that wants to win and is competently run, he would be gone by now. No moves he makes now will make any difference. Damage is done. In Cap hell with lots of value already urinated away. A new regime will be in tough to fix this mess.

  • ed from edmonton

    I am what Kevin Lowe would call a tier 1 and 7/8th fan. I usually go to a hand full of games each year. Each year started in 1972 with the Alberta Oilers. I don’t think I have ever seen a more discouraged fan base than yesterday. If it was not for the goal horn I don’t think you could have told from fan noise who had scored goal in the 3rd period, it was just as quiet for an Oil goal as for a Shark goal.

  • OilTastic

    well Robin these are things most Oiler fans already know and i have posted all over the ‘net on Oiler and hockey sites that it isn’t rocket science to build a winner around a superstar player but i guess i’m wrong because the Old Boys Club featuring Katz, Lowe, MacT, Wayne, and Coff, as well as Nicholson and Chia haven’t been able to!