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

  • 2centz

    The two people most pissed off are Katz and McDavid. You’ve been around the team enough to know how much Daryl Katz cares. Without Katz this team is lucky if it’s even still in Edmonton.youre telling me the previous regime of more owners than players would be able to give McDavid $100 million dollars without going to ATB? Ask Cujo, Weight, Guerin and more that question.
    Does Peter Chiarelli look like a man that hasn’t seen Daryl Katz lose his $hit? I bet if you raise your voice around Chiarelli right now, he would piss his pants. The media is mad, the fans are mad, now imagine how mad you’d be if you were the one that had to keep depositing money into these players accounts while watching this garbage. Or foot the bill for fired coaches and GM’s, bought out players and players in the minors making NHL money. Of course Daryl Katz is pissed off.
    Daryl Katz got a sweetheart deal on his new arena,and? Are we going to start crying foul every time a Billionaire gets a good deal, because that could take a while… he still got the deal done. How many years did it take to deal with the city? Did the previous owners and the ATB have the funds and resources to even go through that process alone? Or a $100 000 000.00 to put up to get shovels in the ground? I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I’m watching the Oilers on tv, and they show Edmonton’s new arena, two monster towers going up as well as all the other things happening downtown, I get way more of a sense of pride as an Edmontonian than I did when they would show Northlands and 118ave, but hey, that’s just me.
    Could anyone actually see the Oilers in the year 2020 still playing at Northlands with 30 something owners and paying Connor McDavid $100million dollars? I can’t. They’d be in Vegas or Seattle or anywhere but here. You think our little Stay Oilers Stay rally would fly and keep the team here today? I haven’t seen any of the other highly successful people from this city put the time, money, resources and effort back into making it a better place, the way Katz has. Ask the U of A who their favourite alumni student is? Yes, he receives tax benefits for that, but he still chooses to donate it to his old school. Yes, Daryl Katz is making Millions off his efforts in Edmonton, but the man already has Billions. He could’ve bounced out of Edmonton and never looked back, (kinda has) just like the rest of them, but he is still trying to make Edmonton a big boy city. So to you Daryl Katz, thanks man, I can’t imagine this city, without the Oilers. It would’ve lost its soul and never recovered.

    • juno

      Super great guy.

      Maybe you forgot the trip to Houston and the threat to move the team if he didn’t get his deal. Maybe you forgot the amount that the people of Edmonton had to pay and are still paying in taxes to this “billionaire” to keep the team in this city.

      Don’t ever forget the importance of Northlands or dismiss its importance. There were 5 championship flags in the rafters in Northlands. There are none in the new arena and maybe there never will be.

      Yes, we have the team today because he purchased it and it is helping downtown and his pocketbook. But this article is not about that it is about his stewardship of this team. Except for one year his decisions have made this not just one of the worst teams in hockey but in North American sports.

    • ed from edmonton

      People are rightfully upset so everybody gets sprayed and this team has been an on ice disaster since he took over. I’m Katz’s popularity would go up if he tweeted that PC is f_____ing Horse ____.

    • Hockeytalkguy

      @ 2centz…….keep drinking the kook-aid dude! If you think this team was EVER moving without Katz taking over you know ZERO. Holy crap they still have a team in Arizona, they would have NEVER moved the Oilers. Katz is ALL about the money, and the die hards keep providing it. I personally think Rogers place is a joke for a new rink……when you have to stand in line for 30 minutes to take a leak and 20 minutes to buy a beer there is some serious issues. Katz isn’t the saviour you think he is….GROW UP!

  • 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.

  • Randomfan

    I find it funny how people like Mr bung and others (including myself) were almost ridiculed for calling out this pathetic team and now almost everyone is on the same page in few short weeks. By no means i am a hockey expert but i could see how bad this team from miles away even when they were winning. Todd had a decent roster in san jose and he made the playoffs every year and i am sure if he could have a better roster here he could take us to the cup with mcdavid and drai and nuge.

    All this talk of firing the GM and OBC is valid but it will not fix the mess that this organization have created since the time began. Enjoy the suck folks. Thats what we do in edmonton.

    • Gary

      Your right, this team is to broken with not enough pieces to be put back together again, don’t have any answers other than to get rid of what’s been there the longest cause its really causing a stink.

    • OnDaWagon

      WRONG. Todd “did not” make the playoffs every year in SJ.
      McLellan was on a steady decline from 2011 up to 2015, when SJ “missed the playoffs” completely. Check your facts before spouting nonsense.

      As for “you” being sure he would take the Oilers to the cup??? Get medical attention, you’re in need.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    McDavid is smart enough and media savvy enough to take the high road and say what is politically correct and who can blame him. I am sure he is frustrated as many players are, that said they aren’t going to throw anyone under the bus.

    The fans are ticked and who can blame them, I can only imagine the fans that are paying for season tickets and game night tickets are thinking they could just throw hundreds out the window of their car while driving down the whitemud and get more satisfaction than they do being at the game.

    Chia being left in charge of trades scares the hell out of a lot of Oilers fans because he is trying to hang on to his job, because he is the next to go, TM is gone. Chia’s trading record sucks! Period. Not only with the Oilers but with the Bruins and right now Chia is trading from weakness not strength, your going to be giving up motre to get something back, and the past trades have show old Chia isnt the guy you want to bet on to win a trade.

    We all know the Oilers need help in a few areas but damn the players need a kick in the pants for their play in our end, their inability to see the ice and know where the man is, not stand dtill and not get caught puck watching has been a problem all season, and it continues, and it is the biggest cause of why we are losing games, because we can not defend in our end and we can not get out of the zone clean, too many blind passes to no where and too many guys not communicating on the ice, untill we can get things cleaned up in our end, we are doomed to lose , our play in our zone has been a problem plauging us all year.

  • Lazarus

    Best player in the World. Still Garbage. Interesting that fellow dumpster fire in 2015 Buffalo “settled” on Eichel and…look at them now compared to Edmonton. At least McDavid had the drawing power to entice Lucic to sign there.
    What a joke. I can only hope Chiarelli lasts long enough to pull the trigger on one more blockbuster! Bold Moves right MacT?
    Guess Conners miserable face on Golden Ticket day was foreshadowing. Now Conner is miserable and so is the team.
    Least we can all enjoy the Western Conf leading Flames in the playoffs

  • Soccer Steve

    Remember Connor’s face when the golden ticket showed the Oilers logo? The kid breathes everything hockey. He wasn’t terrified of playing in the city of Edmonton or missing out on Toronto. He was terrified of the awful organization.

  • 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.