Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

Edmonton Oilers fire Peter Chiarelli

After a disastrous loss to the Detroit Red Wings made it three straight stinkers for the Oilers, ownership and upper management finally decided that it was time for a new direction. According to Ryan Rishaug, the Edmonton Oilers have fired Peter Chiarelli.

Can you remember the day when Peter Chiarelli was announced as the new General Manager and President of Hockey Operations? Do you remember how you felt? I remember thinking that the Oilers had just brought in a manager with experience and one that had won a Stanley Cup, and maybe, just maybe he could be the fresh set of eyes and ideas that the team needed to take the next step. Despite what I knew of his time in Boston, I remember being open to giving him a chance to succeed, thinking that there was no way he hadn’t learned from the mistakes that got him fired by the Bruins. Sure, I was nervous about the way he had traded Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin before they had really turned into anything yet and that those trades were disasters on his resume, but there was no way in hell that he’d be window-licking crazy enough to do that again. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so wrong.

Back in December, Jason Gregor wrote about Chiarelli’s work as GM and it seems fitting to revisit on the night he was fired.

On April 18th, 2015 the Edmonton Oilers organization won the 2015 draft lottery and, most importantly, the opportunity to draft Connor McDavid first overall.

Six days later Peter Chiarelli was hired and named President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. When he took the job Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and McDavid (essentially) were part of the team.

Then the collarbone injury happened.

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Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Connor McDavid’s now teammate, Brandon Manning (I still can’t believe that’s a real thing btw), hadn’t broken his collarbone, effectively ruining his rookie season. What could the Oilers have been like had their future captain been given more time in the lineup alongside Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle? Would it have been enough to prevent the atrocities that were to come? Could they have gotten over the “culture issues” and made something of themselves? Did you know that the whole gang only got 32 games together in 2015-16 before Peter Chiarelli got to work dismantling the group? Less than half of a season. That’s all it took for him to decide that the players that were here weren’t good enough to win. It’s almost unbelievable to think back on.

Then again, we probably should have known better, shouldn’t we? On what was basically the most important day of his tenure as GM, Connor McDavid’s draft day, Peter Chiarelli ended up throwing a grenade at himself less than an hour after drafting the best player on the planet. After reading on a napkin on the flight into Edmonton that the Oilers needed help on defence, Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a deal that sent the 16th and 33rd overall picks to the New York Islanders in exchange for Griffin Reinhart, a guy that’s currently playing in the AHL for the Golden Knights’ farm team. That trade was the first pinhole in the dinghy and one that we probably should have paid more attention to in hindsight. Had we not been blinded by the beauty of Connor McDavid in an Oilers jersey then maybe we could have done something sooner.

Dusty Nielson summed up that trade last week:

If a GM was ever going to be fired after making one trade this deal could have very much been the one. There aren’t many trades in the history of the National Hockey League where you immediately identify one team being fleeced, but this certainly fits the bill.

I don’t even care who the Oilers were or weren’t going to pick this was embarrassing from the beginning. I know everyone talks about Barzal but the real story is that the Oilers were also going to take Joel Eriksson Ek over the likes of Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot and Brock Boeser.

To think that the Griffin Reinhart trade was only the first of many horrible deals to follow, it’s hard to believe that he was able to last this long without anyone wrestling the keys away. From Taylor Hall to Jordan Eberle to Ryan Strome to Ryan Spooner to Drake Caggiula and every trade in between, it’s hard to imagine a scenario at the OEG offices where they looked at the sell-low deals that were going on and approving of both the direction and results. Then again, Bob Nicholson told us that Pete had a plan he believed in so maybe destroying their chances to win anything was all part of the blueprint. Maybe those ‘Chiarelli is a double agent’ theories aren’t so crazy after all? Of course, I’m kidding (or am I?) but it’s definitely going take some time to try and figure out how he got so far away from the original objective.

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Do you remember his early to-do list?

Back to Gregor:

Chiarelli has the most dynamic player in the NHL. He didn’t need to add big names to the roster he inherited, he just needed to revamp it, but he hasn’t come close to making the rest of the roster any better than the one his predecessor, Craig MacTavish, built. The sad part for Oilersnation is I don’t see a quick fix coming. Unless McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH manage to carry the team on their back for 40 games, and play at an even higher level than they currently are, this team isn’t making the playoffs and they simply don’t have the depth to compete if they do make the postseason.

This isn’t the players’ fault. The GM’s job is to build the roster and make the team competitive. The results are proof Chiarelli has failed.

By almost every measure possible, Peter Chiarelli has failed in his role as GM of the Edmonton Oilers so it’s no surprise that he got fired because he certainly deserved to be. The only problem is that the organization waited this long to do it and I hope that it’s not too late. I don’t know why they thought giving him the playoffs as a finish line while maintaining the authority to make personnel decisions was a good idea, but we just went through two months of pointless trades that actually cost the team assets and cap space without making them any better. Now they’re strapped with even more dead weight on the roster for the next guy to fix, and just who that might be is a bridge we haven’t even begun to cross yet. Tomorrow, we can argue about what comes next but for now, we say goodbye to the man who will, in my opinion, go down as one of the worst general managers in franchise history. Tonight, we welcome the beginning of a new era.

So long, Peter, we probably won’t miss you, though, we do hope you get a new GM job somewhere else very soon.

Source: Ryan Rishaug, Verified Account, 1/23/2018 – 12:00 am MT

  • ellebee

    So, if the Oilers had managed to tie it up and squeak out a win in OT against the last place team would Pete be employed and working on more stellar deals this morning? Personally I think the real low point came when Spooner cleared waivers in the morning & had shifts on the 2nd line PP that night…

  • Derzie

    13 years.
    Over 1000 games.
    2 arenas.
    100s of players
    Several coaches
    Many GMs
    1 good season (lottery fuelled Connor-bump)

    “Finally, Chia is fired. Hooray!”

    Come on. The people in charge for those 13 years are still in charge, promoted even. The clock resets when they are all gone.

    The ONLY way that happens is if they collectively decide that honour & pride are more important than money & power. We know that the fans are too loyal & desperate to take away.

    The press conference today will be to placate the fanbase so that the money keeps rolling so that year 14 is right on track. Literally no end in sight. As abusive a situation as there can be. A fanbase held hostage by white-collar bandits too arrogant, dumb or both, to do the right thing.

    They are as bad at management as they were good at winning hockey in the 80’s. Hall of Fame worthy.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    We all know about the dumb moves that did Chiarelli in. Nothing exonerates him. But he did have a lot of bad luck. To wit:

    – McDavid’s collarbone injury. It short-circuited his rookie season and probably set things back farther than we know. At some point during that season, Chiarelli and McLellan saw something they didn’t like in Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, and jumped to the wrong conclusions and made the wrong moves. Those are all on Chiarelli and McLellan, but the injury set the wheels in motion.

    – The Habs saying “no deal.” It’s a well-known fact that the Oilers offered Taylor Hall, straight up, for P.K. Subban. Presumably, either the Habs said no, or Subban did (no-trade clause), or both. Imagine what the Oilers would have been like if Subban in the lineup (also: imagine what the Habs would have been like Hall in their lineup – that’s a story that doesn’t get covered nearly enough. How are the Habs not kicking themselves for not making that trade?).

    – Injuries to his two best defenceman, two years in a row. Sekera and Klefbom have both been hurt. A lot. Take two of your top-four defencemen out of your lineup for the better part of two years and … well … I don’t know how you fix that. Chiarelli didn’t either and that was his fault, obviously. But it’s just plain bad luck when you can’t keep two key cornerstones of your blueline healthy for two consecutive seasons.

    – Set up to fail on the Reinhart trade. It’s my belief that Bob Green actually owns that trade, not Chiarelli. He was the former GM of the Oil Kings and they revered Reinhart because he was a great junior player. I still maintain the Oilers wouldn’t have drafted Barzal if they had the pick, but it doesn’t matter. They got fleeced on the deal because Reinhart didn’t have NHL wheels or NHL ability but Chiarelli took the word of Bob Green that he did, under the reasonable assumption that Green knew what he was talking about. He didn’t.

    – The disappearance of Milan Lucic. Yes, it was a bad contract. Too much money. Too much term. But he played well in his first season here and the Oilers made the playoffs. After that? His hands, his ability to make and take a pass, even his physical presence – all started to fall off the face of the Earth in his second season here and it’s only gotten worse. No one could have predicted that. His contract is a millstone on the organization because he’s become a millstone on the lineup far faster than even the skeptics predicted.

    – Same thing with Toby Rieder. Reasonable signing. Reasonable bet. Absolute disaster. I’m not even sure what number he wears. That’s on the player, not the GM.

    – Malfunctioning Dadbot. You can talk about the defencemen in front of him and the goalie coaches all you want, but Talbot just hasn’t played well. Again, that’s on the player, not the GM. Could you imagine where this team would be right now without Koskinen?

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      To add…
      Katz did try to fix this once. He just made a few critical mistakes (didn’t cut deep enough to get all the cancer). As a die hard Oilers fan, I have to believe Katz has the sack to do it again and learn from his mistakes. Fans want to say it is all about money, but billionaires don’t become that rich by accepting failure. Besides, in what world does a team as bad as the 2018-19 Oilers make more money than the 2016-17 Oilers? Everyone wants to win.

      • Spaceman Spiff

        Yeah. That’s the thing some folks on here seem to forget: The organization wants to win for all of the obvious reasons, plus another one – the money. Playoff dates are basically gravy for guys like Katz. It’s as much of a carrot as the bragging rights.

      • He became a billionaire from inheritance, and then sold off the assets his Dad left him when he sold Rexall. He is obviously not a good business man, or his buddies would be long gone. I own a company, and I have had to fire buddies because they cant do the job. Peed them off , no doubt, probably thought they had a job for life, but the business and my customers (Fanbase) come first. If he thinks canning Chia is going to appease the fan base, I think he is sorely mistaken, again a BAD business decision.

        • Frank Rizza

          His dad had one Pharmacy… he built it up into a massive company. As much as he’s f***** up the Oilers. He built a multi billion dollar business. People like you and me might be able to make a million dollars or maybe even a bit more By being lucky/right place right time type stuff, even with hard work and all that but nobody can make a couple of Billion by being lucky. You have to be a cutthroat animal willing to do whatever it takes. You have to outsmart people everyday and then on top of that be lucky etc. There is no doubt he is an absolute amazing businessman and I as an Edmontonian am proud of and will cheer for him because I love my city and I want us all to do well. The fact that he’s made this once great franchise into the worst run professional sports team on the continent is a whole different story.

    • Goaltender Interference

      This type of stuff happens to all teams but most other GMs don’t add horrible nonsensical trades and signings to the mix.

      Functioning management teams identify those GMs that do and remove them from the equation in a timely manner. They don’t claim to have a plan and then sit on their hands while the plan turns out to be a nightmare.

    • Gravis82

      Lucic was no worth his contract even at expected levels

      Reider is a nothing signing

      Was clear last year talbot was not going to cut it, should have moved on

      You are the GM, dont let bob green be the GM

      Every team has injuries. Other teams have good young defenseman waiting because they dont trade their draft picks

      Ok, montreal said no. That doesnt mean you have to trade Hall for Larsson

      McDavid go injured, and MacLellan didnt like what he say in Hall and Eberle after 478053 years of losing as they marched into another one. They scored, but did not worship MacLellan or have enough gritensity. Any person who things its better for the team to not have those players for those reasons needs to be fired

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        Lucic was the most sought after free agent that summer to the point where other teams were willing to offer up MORE for his services. Nobody in the NHL saw his decline coming this quickly

  • Napoleon

    Why the FACK do Mac T and Klowe still have jobs, Pete was the puppet, until the entire management team is replaced it will not matter who the gm is. Who in their right mind would want the job.

      • VK63

        you don’t have to reduce this to the individual people in the c-suite . This is organizational incompetence that pervades everything, Bobby Nick points at the hockey team and blithers “culture” while the compass in his pocket has no needle.
        This franchise is BROKEN and that is the reality that they choose to ignore. They aren’t coming out of this mess with a new guy at GM. Thats laughable and roughly analogous to getting a new hair cut to cure your cancer.
        Until they generate some level of real self awareness the groupthink that put them here will keep them here, at best.

  • Skylardog

    I while back s few oiler’s fans offered me a spot in oiler’s nation. I would now like to formally offer my services as the next oilers gm. Seriously, I can’t do any worse.