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.

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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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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

  • Reinman

    Chia has destroyed the chances of McDavid winning Lord Stanley’s cup in an Oiler Uniform. Congratulations! He is an idiot. WHen you see him speak, he doesn’t seem like an idiot, but by his actions, you know he is.

  • Mitch92

    One of Chiarelli’s greatest errors in my estimation was not dumping Taylor Hall prior to McDavid’s arrival. That delay cost the Oilers at least one season of properly building the team around McDavid.

  • TKO

    would the Oilers trade chaisson for a good defensive prospect if its clear they are not making it? Flames could use a depth guy like chaisson to shore up the bottom 6? would they trade Lucic but retain 4 to 5 mil in salary? he could be useful also for the playoffs

      • TDM

        I think given chias history, you should just be looking for good trade value regardless of who the dance partner is. If making the team better is priority one, you need to be open to all suitors in trade talks. I want no part of lucid here in calgary, but I could see value in a chiasson on our bottom six. Considering you got him on a pro, an asset return in year you aren’t going to the playoffs wouldn’t be terrible would it?

    • Ben918

      They would trade Lucic in a heartbeat but not hold 80-90% of his salary. I am thinking they will have to keep 1 mil a year or take a bad contract the other way. Chaisson is good but I think only Nuge, Draisaitl and McDavid are not tradable at this point and I am not sure about the first two. The team needs to fill a ton of holes and Chiarelli left them with little room to do anything. IMO they don’t need more defensive prospects though. 5-6 dmen are about all they have and they have a ton of them.

      • percy

        I disagree, we are to soft down the center. I would trade either one in a heart beat. This club needs a complete overhaul. A center and a winger with push back and grit would be an move in the right direction. Finding a player of that calibre that would come to Edt might be tough.

        • cityofchampions

          Do you think Lucic would refuse a trade out of this mess? He’d probably agree to leave to at least 25 other teams, if not more. The problem is not lucic’s NMC, its that no other team wants him at that price. Oilers would have to swallow $4M to move him or take that much back in another bad contract plus toss in a sweetener.

  • So we are trusting the oilers to peters guy Keith. Well good luck to us i guess. Funny that the firing happened after jeremy roenick ripped the oilers on national tv in the united states. Seems that Katz is more concerned with what americans think about his team than what oiler fans think of this team. Congrats waynes brother on your deserved promotion. Here is to another rebuild thank OEG.

  • ed from edmonton

    The question going forward is what happens next. Reports state that some combination of Gretzky/Nicholson will be interim for the remainder of the season. I wonder if they will promise “bold moves”. However given that anyone qualified is employed at the moment and wouldn’t be available till the post season some kind of caretaker is the only option.

    Who ever takes over will have a tremendous challenge. I would think the Oil are at least 2 years away from clearing up the current situation. There have been plenty of reports of a massive drop off in season ticket and box renewals so the team will become financially challenged as well. The new guy will have his work cut out for him.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      To be honest the GM job in Edm is probably one of the hardest in the league. UFAs done some here unless overpaid. Anyone on a NTC even a limited one has the Oil on their list. Tons of media and fan pressure. BUt regardless when tkfisher’s do nothing team looks better then this one the GM needs to do better.

    • Ben918

      I think at this point you make the moves you can. They need to part with Sekeras, Russel and Lucic to start with. I think any of these three would be bold as they would have to keep salary or take a bad contract back. However the Oilers can easily play with these three out of the line up and do just as well IMO. They don’t need a return for them. They need to start undoing what Chiarelli has done so they can look to the FA market and add players to rebound. They are close to a playoff spot riding on a handful of players, there is a chance they could make it next year with a few character guys like Chaisson added.

    • Wince

      You’re right, they were so much better for the 90’s and 2000’s when they wore “Conservative blue” . Oh wait…no they weren’t! Way to politicize something that is not at all political, you Neanderthal.

  • 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

  • Lazarus

    Yes you were all blinded by Conner and BaggedMilks incessant fawning spurned the masses. Bad move after bad move was justified by Chiarelli or overlooked because of McJesus.
    Flames fans tried warning you over his Boston record but as in life when you are in the situation you don’t always see the problem
    .to outsiders it was inevitable.
    Thanks for all the outstanding moves over the years and putting the team at least 3 or 4 or 5 years further back Pete!!

  • You just got LITT up!

    McDavid’s gone … book it! No way he puts up with / sticks around for this [email protected]! The next GM will need several years to clean up the mess Pete made. Connor will not waste several years of his career playing on a rebuilding / bottom feeder team.

  • Consultant

    Now this franchise can start to heal. I hope they sue him. Those who hired him and sat on their hands for so long (Nicholson) and those who were his he’s men (howson and MacT) should probably go as well. Fine with OBC interim, assume it will be Keith then do a comprehensive search this summer.

  • Odanada

    The taint of failure has permeated the team and the front office.
    KL and MacT given plum positions for their failure? You’re naive if you don’t think KL CM & WG don’t have opinions that influence player decisions. The problem is these “wise elders” are wrong more times than right.
    I defy anyone here to objectively explain to me why Bobby Nicks should be kept on

  • TheRock

    Chia will likely be promoted to some role with a title like “sr advisor to the development of hockey culture in the washrooms of Rogers place”. This promotion will be based on his excellent work of drafting Connor McDavid 4 years ago…

  • CactusJr

    I was at the draft in Florida when Pete thanked the “city” of Florida for their hospitality before selecting McDavid and I thought…..”We’re in trouble”

  • Harry2

    Unfortunately were going to have to wait until the offseason to see the new regime. Theres no way they clean house and/or rehire mid season.
    Patients Oiler fans, PATIENTS.

    …….too soon for the “P” word?

  • Anton CP

    Let’s be fair and rational here for a moment (of course, that is the last thing of most of the fans on this board is capable of) and analyse Chiarelli’s job performances. I don’t know how many of you still remember that Chiarelli was nominated of top GM in the league back in 2016 by finally getting the Oilers into playoffs for the first time since 2006 and how everyone just celebrated his achievements but it all crashing down in just a few months later when reality strikes on everyone that 2016 was merely a mirage.

    Every moves since the disasterous Reinhart trade and every signing since now seem broken Sekera were all meant for one thing: get this team to playoffs asap. How many of you were actually wondering back in 2016 when the Oilers choke on game 7 of WCSF that maybe this team is badly build and that will be the only highlight for 3.5 seasons of Chiarelli’s reign? Since this website still kept records since 2015 then if anyone of you willing to look all the way back at what kind of reaction that people have back in 2016 (Dadbot was such a stupid nickname tbh).

    Chiarelli delievered to the fans about what kind of team that people want: a fringe playoffs team that will never go anywhere near the top (which, some of you still thinking playoffs. You got what you asked for, this is the team you deserve to have).

  • Canoe Ride 27

    On a non-impact deal, here is what Pete invited into the room:

    “You know what, I did all I could defending him last year in the media,” McDavid said after Thursday’s game. “I didn’t want to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose.

    “He wanted to make some comments today about what went on last year and I thought it was one of the classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things and our guys responded accordingly.

    “We can put the whole ‘he did it on purpose’ thing to rest, because what he said out there confirmed that. It shows what kind of guy he is, how he doesn’t step up and fight some of our guys.”

  • Ben918

    TSN is suggesting that there is no clear options for a replacement. I think they are fine on that front. They have two former NHL GMs in Gretzky and MacT that are already under contract with the Oilers in other roles. Seems to me like MacT would be the obvious choice while they go into their All Star break meetings and find a long term GM.


    Iv’e got that song, “Dancin’ in the streets in my head” lol. I hope the Oilers don’t rush into finding our new GM. As for Lucic, what about enticing Seattle to take him and offer up someone or a package not in our core as a bonus? Lucic lives in Vancouver so Seattle would be great for him and his family.

    • Ben918

      Yeah, I think you have something here. Lucic and a draft pick might be enough to entice them as they will need to meet the league floor with salary. He has some ability but it will be a tougher sell if we can’t get rid of Sekeras/Russel as we should have a decent defender left open for them.

  • Hemmercules

    How do give a goalie with like 30 NHL games under his belt almost 5 million dollars? Madness. Chia dealt the team one last dagger before getting shipped out. The problem is, his “superiors” likely approved the deal which doesn’t bode well for the future since they will remain in control and continue to puppet whoever they hire. At this point I’m just hoping they can make a playoff run once before Connor moves on to a respectable organization.

  • 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.