Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

REPORT: It’s Tobias Rieder’s fault that the Oilers aren’t a playoff team

The Oilers, who are trudging to the finish of yet another incredibly disappointing season, are hosting a week’s worth of season ticket holder meetings which in order to convince fans that the organization isn’t a complete disaster.

Bob Nicholson has been heading these meetings, discussing major issues like the future direction of the organization, the search for the next general manager, and, of course, the culture. At today’s meeting, Nicholson concluded that Tobias Rieder was a key reason why the Oilers made the playoffs. According to Twitter’s Mental Gas (who was at the event), the difference between the Oilers making the playoffs and not was Rieder failing to score 15 or 16 goals.

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It’s official. We are no longer blaming the water. We are now blaming Tobias Reider.

But jokes aside, this is a wildly inaccurate statement that’s frustrating on multiple levels. I mean, there’s no doubt Rieder didn’t live up to expectations this season and he’s ultimately responsible for his own poor play, but adding 15 goals from him would have put the Oilers in the middle of the pack for goals for and still deep in the red in terms of goal differential.

The really frustrating thing here, though, is how it so clearly indicates that the organization is completely lost. Year after year, it comes down to blame the players. No, not the general manager who put the flawed roster together or the guy at the top who hired that general manager and gave him the green light to make terrible decisions, but the marginal depth players. Man, if this place wasn’t already a tough sell for potential free agents, this comment certainly cemented it.

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Rather than looking at this roster and thinking damn, we’re really devoid of the skill and speed to compete in the new NHL, Nicholson is pinpointing the difference between success and failure on one player not living up to expectations. Forget the lack of depth, shaky goaltending, and a blueline without good passers, this comes down to Tobias Rieder. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m thinking the issue is at the top with the guy who has no actual experience putting together a successful NHL team. And no, running an NHL team is much, much more difficult than having to choose which All-Stars are going to make Team Canada’s taxi squad.

We’re supposed to trust this guy to lead the ship? This is who’s selecting the next general manager? This is who’s going to surround that general manager with the best staff possible to drag the Oilers out of the mess his last hire created? This is supposed to invoke enough faith in season ticket holders to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to support the Oilers?


Bruce McCurdy tweeted out a transcript of Nicholson’s comments:

  • NitwittNIcholson

    At the end of the day, a person in Mr. Nicholson’s position is in charge of creating the direction and culture of the hockey club. It is quite evident that his vision for how he thinks the oilers should be built is completely out of touch with how modern playoff hockey teams are built. Goalie equipment got smaller = more goals being scored; Speed and skill is now way more important then when the NHL was in the dead puck era. Bob had no formal NHL experience beforehand, got the GM hiring completely wrong, and frankly doesn’t deserve another chance. We need someone experienced in a Successful NHL organization and the only way to really start changing is to change Management from the ground up.

  • @S_2_H

    This is pathetic. Zero accountability in this organization. In what other walk of life could all these buffoons keep their jobs while the business is a perennial tire fire.

  • corky

    This is worse than two Dallas Stars getting called out earlier this season. It makes this team look even more pathetic and how do you sell the Oilers to free agents when crap like this happens?

  • Rick Stroppel

    Holy moly is this Nicholson guy stupid. The TOP FIVE points scorers on the Oilers are all having career years: McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH, Nurse and Chiasson. But the problem is a FOURTH LINE WINGER? Rieder is a career -67 and his average goals per season during his NHL career is 12.

    Remember the “bad water” speech a few weeks ago? Nicholson said something very important and telling. He said “we are right there”, meaning THEY THINK THEY HAVE A GREAT TEAM. Incredible. No reason to make any big changes, stay the course. Oh yeah, free agents are going to be flocking to Edmonton.

    This the tradition in the Oilers organization: high level people come forward, say stupid things, disappear, stop talking in public, send some new person out to say stupid things. Katz, McTavish, Lowe, Nicholson. Nicholson will soon disappear like the others because we have been so “mean” to him.

    • Rick Stroppel

      I should clarify, when I say Nicholson will “disappear”, I don’t mean he will be fired, heaven forbid! Nicholson will be promoted to VP in charge of SFA. Next season they will send GM Keith Gretzky out to be the lightning rod.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Even on the basis of what McCurdy added, Nicholson’s comments are incredibly stupid. The Oilers are -38 goal differential on the season. Fifteen of the sixteen teams currently in playoff positions have a POSITIVE goal differential. The only exception is Arizona, -8. If Rieder scored 12 goals on the season, the Oilers would have a -26 goal differential and THEY WOULD STILL BE OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS.

    The Oilers management group is obviously an echo chamber full of jackasses. When are the MSM going to start asking these fools some hard questions?

  • Ten Long Years

    SO let me get this straight, had Reider scored 15 goals, and the Oilers snuck into the playoffs, everything would be great? The fact this guy even thinks this, let alone says it out loud in public, shows he needs to be fired immediately. This organization can not succeed until Nicholson is gone. If the person at the top of the org chart is this clueless then there is no hope. None. Period.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    I never liked it when he was given the position and now in my own head im in I told you so. This man is way over his head, if I was the owner , even with little hockey management sense I would say , ok , even I know better, Bobby , take your burgers and leave , What an idiot.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Actually, I’m kinda OK with this. At some point, we need to start placing blame on the players on the ice for their lack of production. Rieder was signed to produce … yeah … probably around 12 or 15 goals. Probably the same kind of numbers they were expecting with Lucic a couple of years ago, truth be told.

    Am I surprised Nicholson singled Rieder out? Yes. Is it tough talk? Yes, but I suppose an audience of season ticketholders deserve a certain level of truth. Do I think it’s inaccurate? Not on your life.

    Yeah, it’s not fair to dump it on one guy. But the game’s not fair. It’s based on results, production, execution. Too many Oilers weren’t doing enough of those three things. That’s how they end up missing the playoffs.

    Yes, Rieder’s a fourth-liner today… but in October, he had a pretty good shot of being Drai’s winger on the second line and yeah, maybe even one of McDavid’s wingers. It seemed a reasonable bet. The Oilers lost that bet … because Rieder hasn’t done the things that made him successful before. He’s on the fourth line because that’s what his play this season dictated. He failed.

    Too many of you have switched from Chia Derangement Syndrome to Nicholson Derangement Syndrome to recognize that. And the funny thing is … if it was Lucic and not Rieder, I’d bet you’d all agree with him.

    What Nicholson said at that meeting is exactly that kind of blunt talent evaluation that this organization will need going forward. The kid-gloves must come off. Under-achieving players must be moved out, not re-signed, whatever.

    As fans, we’ve all been demanding accountability from the team’s executive. The least we can do is not cringe and guffaw when the team’s executive finally serves it up.

    • camdog

      Strome and Cagguila have scored a total of 25 goals this season. They were traded by a GM who was told his job was on the line if he didn’t make the playoffs this year.

      • Spaceman Spiff

        Right, OK. But neither of those guys produced particularly well when they were here, either. They weren’t Rieder-bad, but they were mediocre, at best. They should have been shipped out – for better players, in return, mind you.

        Again, think of the difference that another 12 or 15 goals would have meant from a guy like Rieder. Or Lucic. Think of how many game-winning goals or timely power-play goals or timely shorthanded goals (Rieder’s specialty, allegedly) might have been there.

        By criticizing Rieder’s lack-of-production, Nicholson struck upon the universal truth about it. Goals don’t happen in a vacuum. They are not statistics, in and of themselves. They tie games, turn games, win games. Guys like Rieder and Lucic were brought in to contribute a percentage of that. They didn’t. I have no problem with Nicholson pointing that out.

        • How about pointing out the considerable shortcomings of the management staff instead? That is a very long list and completely ignored, never mind his own colossal blunders which he completely glossed over, even when pressed by a season ticket holder it went straight to deflection. The exact template for losers who want to blame anybody but themselves. Maybe he should point out that every single member of the management team has never ever been approached by any other team for a job in any capacity, with the exception of Howson, who went to Columbus, did a horrible job there, and then we hire him back even though he is a proven colossal failure at any management position. Mr Katz, the only guys left buying your BS are the ones you send undeserved paycheques to.

        • WHH

          Spaceman, So being a shill for Nicholson are you saying that if Lucic and Reider had of scored more goals that the Oilers would be in the playoffs and legitimately vying for the Stanley Cup? That all the team needs is a few more goals?

          • Spaceman Spiff

            I’m not a shill for Nicholson. Please can the ad-hominem crap. And yes, if Lucic and Rieder (and a couple of others) had chipped in, collectively, say, another 50 goals, then yeah, they’d be in playoff contention. Probably not Cup contention, but they wouldn’t be in such dire straits.

      • Frustrated Fan in Calgary

        Lucic has 5 goals, trade of Strome for Spooner, trades for Manning and Petrovic, 3 year deal to Koskinen with half of the season to go. The stupid crap keeps happening and Nicholson plays “Mr. Idiot” by commenting on Reider!! I don’t care if Reider was expected to score 15 goals. That is one point out of about at least 10 that has gone wrong for the team. Only a complete idiot would make that comment.

    • Odanada

      That’s the kind of blunt evaluation a coach might drop in the privacy of the room to motivate and unite the team (they’re supposed to be a tight knit group).
      For the Big Cheese to blurt this out in public is beyond stupid and a very good way to demotivate a tight knit group.

    • LOL. You cant be serious. Management needs to be held responsible, but once again it is every ones else’s fault, never their own. If you call that taking accountability, I have some oceanfront property in Saskatchewan for sale. Accountability would have been him admitting he is unqualified for the position he was gifted, and then take K Lowe and the rest of his minions out the door with him. That would have satisfied the STH base, but no, lets keep selling the same sad story about how we are great and know what we are doing while actively demonstrating the exact opposite. He could not find his own a*s with two hands.

    • Goaltender Interference

      I’d be more inclined to agree with your points if Bob had also pointed out the shortcomings from the management team.

      There are some deficiencies on the players side, Gord knows… but they pale in comparison to the damage this team management has done.

      Pointing out one without addressing the other is just passing the buck – not highlighting a problem.

    • Kool-Aid Man

      Is that your interpretation of accountability? Any fan paying 8-10K for season tickets would say… NO! If you are paying that kind of money and call that accountability then you deserve to be a season ticket holder.

      • Spaceman Spiff

        So if Nicholson had stood up in the front of the season ticket buyers (and holders) and said something like “We believe in Rieder. We think this is a one-year blip and we’re prepared to bring him back because we think he deserves a second chance,” how well would that have gone over?

  • Axe

    I don’t think I have ever been as embarrassed to be an oiler fan.. That’s saying a lot… How is this moron in charge of hiring the next GM and POHO… Do u think fans are that dumb? We are gonna actually be like if only Tobias got twelve goals we could have had this thing…. What an absolute joke.. We are already the laughing stock of the league.. This definitely doesn’t help..

  • Derian Hatcher

    You, me, and everyone else who are regular posters here may get trashes and cheers for all of our comments but the common denominator here is that we care deeply about the players and the team and want them to do well. I can see the Oiler passion in most comments and it is truly sad that this organization is so bad. It’s not a bad thing that so many fans are upset and frustrated…it shows they have passion. When that turns to apathy…sigh, just so damn disappointing.

  • Johnny Zylon

    I hope the fans give the guy a Standing Ovation next game. Nobody deserves to be blamed for the mess on the ice except for the most arrogant, pathetic management in the history of the NHL.

  • Shaun Doe

    I think Bob’s onto something here. I mean think about it. If Tobias Rieder had cured cancer this season we wouldn’t have cancer to worry about anymore. Fact…

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    This quote from Dreger on TSN ” Nicolson says he talked to Reider and said his comments were out of bounds and he apologized to Reider about it and they had a laugh about it according to Nicolson” Yeah sure they did, give me a break! This is Bob trying to tame the fire that is burning behind him,

    Nicolson shouldnt be talking to the ticket holders if he is going to say something stupid, and that was stupid! Yeah this ought o do wonders for the Oilers in trying to attract Players to the city. Please someone put Bobnn on Holiday for a while, if he is going to say things like that because he is folding under questioning from season ticket holders, he needs to go

  • Odanada

    Wait everybody… Bob regrets what he said and has apologized. Just like he apologized for not vetting Chiarelli.
    How about apologizing for impersonating a real NHL hockey man, eh Bob?
    And as actions speak louder than words, resigning would say it loud enough so that everyone got the message.
    For Gord’s sake Katz! This is embarrassing. Clean house!

  • Kr55

    Seems old BObby has a scapegoating reflex. Last summer he kept going on about Talbot being bad and needing to be better next season. Now it’s Rieder. Any fan paying attention knows the issues if this team go back over a decade though, and can’t be reduced to 1 or 2 guys under-performing like Bobby seems to want to sell.

  • Frustrated Fan in Calgary

    If that statement is accurate it is total crap. The Oilers are not in the playoffs because they have made a series of poor to terrible trades, their big free agent signings have worked out poorly to horribly, they have not developed players well, and they can’t manage the salary cap. Period. They have consistently missed the playoffs because they are not a quality NHL organization. What a joke!!