It’s safe to say that Bob Nicholson would like to forget Thursday ever happened.
Nicholson was picked apart online after saying that the Oilers would probably be in the playoffs if Tobias Rieder had scored 10 to 12 goals. It was a ridiculous thing to say and Nicholson quickly went into damage control mode.
In case you missed what Nicholson said, here’s the transcript from today’s season ticket holder meeting:
“Toby Rieder will not be signed by the Edmonton Oilers at the end of this year. Toby Rieder was a player that other teams wanted, but he came here for one year because he wanted to play Leon Draisaitl who he plays with on the German national team. He thought if he wasn’t playing with Leon he’d be playing with Connor and he’d score 15-16 goals, and instead of making $2 million, he’d sign a four-year (extension) at $3.5 million. Toby Rieder hasn’t scored a goal. Toby Rieder has missed so many breakaways. If Toby Rieder would have scored 10 or 12 goals, we’d probably be in the playoffs.” (Source: Bruce McCurdy)
Later on in the day, Darren Dreger tweeted that Nicholson had spoken to Rieder:
Bob Nicholson just spoke with Toby Rieder. He apologized for his comments criticizing Rieder at a season ticket event. Nicholson said he “stepped out of bounds”. Hoping they can all move on.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 21, 2019
If Bob Nicholson wants to continue to try and connect with fans a little bit more he’ll likely need to start choosing his words a little more wisely.
TSN’s Ryan Rishaug managed to track down Rieder’s agent on Thursday evening, and needless to say, he wasn’t happy.
Comment from Rieders agent Darren Ferris. “I am totally astonished and disappointed that the president of an NHL team can make such a callous and reckless statement about a player. This is unacceptable.”
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) March 22, 2019
What Nicholson said on Thursday isn’t the most pressing concern I have with him right now.
ON THE WAY OUT?
IIHF President Rene Fasel will be retiring in the spring of 2020. His replacement will be chosen at the 2020 World Hockey Championships, just over 13 months from now.
I’ve heard from a very good source that Bob Nicholson will most certainly be a candidate, if not the front-runner, to replace Fasel at the top of the IIHF.
I don’t think anybody would blame Nicholson for taking that gig because it’s actually the job he’s best suited to do. He will turn 66-years old in May and could easily put in five years, mostly stress-free, as the big boss of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Can Oilers owner Darryl Katz afford to have Bob Nicholson hire the next General Manager of the Oilers when there is a decent chance he won’t even be around at the end of the chosen candidate’s first year with the organization?
If Nicholson had loads of experience hiring general managers in the past I wouldn’t have an issue with it, but he doesn’t.
Maybe Nicholson stays with the Oilers and everything works out just fine but if he does leave for the IIHF and the Oilers next GM is a failure it will be very easy to look back on this moment and realize that absolutely none of it made sense, like usual.