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.

Edmonton Oilers Tyler Ennis suffered broken leg in game three against Chicago

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

  • 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”

  • 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?

    • 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

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    If only Katz and Co had the gnads to Fire Chia and TM after last season, maybe just maybe this season wouldnt be so in the sewer right now and with no sign of getting out of it at all this year. Oh to dream about what could have been….Now they better not be putting anyone in the GM or Presidents slot named Howson, MacTavish orLowe…what frightens me is someone is going to say what an excellent idea those names would be!

    • Oilerz4life

      Terry Jones said recently that Chiarelli might get fired over the All Star Break and he was fired right off the bat.

      Jones pointed out that the Oilers might hand the GM job to Keith Gretzky and give Hitchcock the power to give final yes or no input into roster decisions.

      In other words Keith works the phones, while Hitchcock gives key input into any final decisions regarding the roster.

  • RJ

    I remember the first few months after Chia was hired, there was some lunatic who kept freaking out about how Chia would wreck everything. Turns out he was right.

  • Jofa

    Here’s a scary thought. What if Katz has been grooming his kid all these years to one day take over as GM. It might explain what he was doing at all those draft tables…

    I joke, but suppose anything’s possible in the OBC alternative universe.

  • 50 Flex

    I am just blown away that they let Chiarelli sign Koskinen to that contract ONE DAY before they fired him. The problems in this franchise go much higher than the GM

    • Gravis82

      whats more concerning now is that they have to activate sekera and cant. They needed both rattie and spooner to be claimed and then they would still need a move to get under the cap.

      This is an epic mess

    • Marcus

      Add to that the OBC allowing the recent Manning/Caguilla fiasco deal and the recent waiver pick up of someone named Cave and his salary on our cash-strapped books (as if he could help the team)..and then another overpay on a still unproven goalie (whom was already being overplayed as an unproven NHL goalie)…..all while being on a short leash. You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried….no Chiarelli was far from the biggest wart in this franchise. It’s the people above him and overseeing his work.

  • Die Hard Oiler Fan

    Thank God. Finally !!!!!!
    A very nice summary of Chia’s “work”. Given what we heard out of Boston prior to the Bruins firing him, I still think should have been fired shortly after the Reinhart trade. Of course, Chia had barely sat down in the Oiler GM chair by this point. Can’t believe it took nearly this long, and this much damage to the roster, but at least he’s gone. The entire Oiler management “committee” must have been in agreement on this one in order to force Bobby Nichs to finally do the deed (wonder if he shouldn’t be going too ???).
    The team is in a sad state at present, but Chia’s firing is certainly making my day a little (make that a lot) brighter. Excuse me, need to go and do some cart-wheels.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Finally, holy ****. Regardless, the damage has been done. How long will it take a competent GM to somewhat right this ship? I’m gonna ballpark it that we’re 2 years away at least. Thanks for the memories Chia, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The Oilers have the following contracts on the books for next season:
    Lucic – 6MM
    Spooner – 3.1MM
    Kassian – 1.95MM
    Brodziak – 1.15MM
    Manning – 2.25MM
    Koskinen – 4.5MM
    Pouliot buyout – 1.33MM
    Gryba buyout – 0.3MM
    20.5MM on guys we could replace with AHL call-ups.

  • Marcus

    “But I really believe when I talk to Peter that he has a plan to get us back into the playoffs next season.

    I believe that Peter really thinks through everything he does. I really believe he understands where our gaps were this year (17-18). Making those changes aren’t easy. Peter Chiarelli has a very good relationship with other general managers in this league to make those trades than someone who doesn’t have those relationships.”

    – Bob Nicholson (April 12, 2018)

  • KootenayDan

    It’s over! Finally. Now what? whomever the next gm is has a big task in front of him. After a decade of darkness and an additional 2 years of doom Oiler fans are left holding the bag. Another lottery pick nobody wanted good thing ole Pete didn’t trade for another bad contract. Really my question is now what?

  • MMAX

    Just remember, Pete is only a small piece of the problem. And before we start rejoicing too much, we better make damn certain he didn’t get promoted to some made-up position within this disaster of an organization.

  • Serious Gord

    I can’t just be chia that’s severed from this organization. There are lots more who need to be gone before this business can reach its potential.

  • percy

    Bye Bye PC. Often wondered why everyone entering Edt had a smile on their face, time to take the sign down. This mess is going to take a few years to fix, better find a comfortable chair. Question is where do we start. IMO this team has always lacked a Vet DEF to stabilize our young def core, especially with Bouchard and Jones coming into the mix. Also a backup goalie. Both moves are a positive step. Shedding a few contracts and adding a winger or too down the road. Finding a better goalie coach should also be addressed.

  • A-co

    Hopefully he ends up in Seattle and wants to build a team that can compete in the Pacific division….we have some players he would be interested in… now to hire someone that can tune out the Red Wino’s and purge this team of all of Pistol Petes mistakes…. good luck to whoever takes this job on…she’s uphill on the round trip

  • Ben918

    THIS WAS LONG OVERDUE. They need to be creative to fix the problems Chia has left them with. I think this was too late, especially after the Kosk extension. If you are about to fire a GM, maybe stop him from giving a NTC and 4.5 mil to a guy that hasn’t even played half a year in the NHL and is already 30 yrs old.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.