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

  • 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.”

    • 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.

  • 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?

  • Odanada

    KLowe, MacT and WG’s qualifications are that they drank from the Cup 30 years ago while wearing the Oiler blue. In their arrogance, they think they have some jedi-like “force” – with hunches and gut feelings about players and trades. It is absolutely ridiculous. The game has passed these guys by and they need to show their respect for the sweater by stepping down. It is the honourable thing to do.
    Scott Howson VP of player development? What player development? GONE
    Bob N. is a Hockey Canad guy with no experience making trades, dealing with contracts or the salary Cap. But he is a buddy of the OBC. “Forensic audit” is a buzzword used by a slick talker in over his head. GONE!
    They need younger managers that understand CORSI/stat analyses and that are ahead of the curve on emerging trends like “speed” over Chia’s 2011 “big and slow.”
    They need someone that understands that every penny counts towards the cap.
    The game and how it is managed has changed.
    The 80s Oilers are hopelessly mired in the past.

  • Gravis82

    I have a feeling he wasn’t making decisions starting somewhere around the time the brought in Paul Coffey as a skills coach. Was canned to appease the fans.

  • 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!!

  • everton fc

    Flames fan here, who pulled for the Oilers when they went to the Cup vs. the ‘Canes (I was living in Sherwood Park, back then). Never had the hatred many Flames fans do, for the Oilers. So I thought I’d post.

    I wonder how much influence Chiarelli had signing Koskinen? If the organization let him sign a 30 year old goalie for that term and cap hit, the issues are much deeper, than Chiarelli. Obviously.

    I wonder if Hitchcock becomes GM. I wonder if he’d be a decent GM, for the Oilers?

    I wonder how much it would cost to buyout Lucic? I don’t have those #s, but that needs to happen. Russell’s another buyout candidate, I think.

    I always brought up Jason Botterill as the next decent GM candidate out there, prior to his Sabres gig. The Oilers need a GM with hockey experience, and a university degree in business, like Botterill. Someone who can sort out the cap disaster the team’s in. To be only, what, 3 points out of a playoff spot with all these problems… Well, that’s where you start. You get some rest over the All-Star break from the media, and sort things out as bet you can. People say Keith Gretzky’s draft record is strong; I think Yamamoto was not the best pick, last draft.

    • Geowal

      You pretty much just described Chiarelli. He has a law degree from Princeton, hockey experience, both as a low-level player and GM (with a cup). For some reason he never managed to let what must be intelligence enough to get a law degree influence how he evaluated hockey decisions. Stuck in the past, from day one. I think people want a truly fresh face, not the last fired GM on the carousel.

  • 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.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        I believe Chabot was the Oilers goalie coach from 09 to 15 , then when Dubnyk got traded and then Chabot got fired, Schwartz was the Oil Kings goaltending coach, and when they fired Chabot they did no searching for a goalie coach they just promoted Schwartz to the job

        • If i recall correctly , Mac-T bumped into him at the urinals. They had just fired Chbot, Mac-T You work for the Oil Kings as goalie coach?
          Schwartz I do, why did you pee on my shoe?
          Mac-T You’re hired, go to payroll and just give them the number.

  • Johnnymaced

    Gawddamn. I knkw its long road back. He screwed us for years to come. However it cant better until this change happened. So we rbfsr behind but we have a fresh start. 2-3 years we will be back. However i believe he was hated. Who knows maybe we go on a run!

  • 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.

  • nijames

    It is totally unfair to hang that Griffin Reinhart trade on PC. That has Liwe and McIdiot written all over it. We need more old Oil Kings on our roster Peter. Make the deal say McIdiot

  • 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.

  • SlovakOiler

    Today I cheered for a Wings win (how sad is that?) so the idiot doesn’t destroy the team any further in the BYE week. Thank goodness this was the last straw.
    Hopefully It can’t get any worse… but… it’s the Oilers 😉

  • 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.

    • DannyGallivan

      Chia is gone. Rejoice. Now there are 2 choices to make with a team with no heart:

      1) Swap Teams. Keep McJesus, Draisaitl, RHN, Koski and Klefbom and move the entire rest of the team to Bakersfield. They will all clear waivers as no one will want players with no talent (not their fault) and no heart (definitely their fault). Though it won’t help the cap issue, at least the Bakersfield boys will play with heart.
      2) Rebuild. We have no trade bait left. Trade McJesus, Draisaitl, RHN and Klefbom (all 1st round drafts) for the next 10 years of first and second round draft picks and start again. There is no way this team gets to a cup in the next 5 years starting from where they are. Four years ago yes, but not now. That ship sailed when Chia and predecessors got rid of Hall (1st round), Ebs (1st round), Dubnyk (1st round), Schultz (2nd round) and Petrie (2nd round), for next to nothing.