WWYDW(FE): Start Fresh

To say Bob Nicholson’s tour through Oilers season ticket holder meetings has been a public relations nightmare would be an understatement.

Beyond the puzzling, contradictory comments about who’s responsible for what decisions and vague discussions about how things will be different moving forward, Nicholson threw gasoline all over the fire by randomly tearing into Tobias Rieder. To paraphrase, a stressed-out and agitated Nicholson, a few days into a damning gauntlet of chatting with agitated fans, carved Rieder for his disappointing season while suggesting his poor play was the difference between this team making the playoffs and not.

This rightfully caused a storm in Oil Country. As I wrote yesterday, beyond this being wildly inaccurate, the fact that Nicholson, the leader and a major ambassador of this organization, felt this was an appropriate thing to say about a depth player on the team certainly puts his leadership in question. This is just a meer peek behind the curtains of the thought process going on at the top levels of this organization and it, compounded on top of many, many other things, makes fans wonder whether the correct group is in place to lead the Oilers to success.

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That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. Do the Oilers need to start from scratch? Would it be okay to just find a new President of Hockey Operations and General Manager but leave many of the other members of the leadership team in place? Do the Oilers woes begin with Nicholson’s leadership?

We’ve been told adamantly that the Old Boys Club is no longer involved in hockey-related decision making and that pointing fingers at that arbitrary group functions solely for disgruntled fans to have a direction to yell. We’ve also been told that decisions such as Mikko Koskinen’s puzzling extension were made by committee. Then Nicholson explicitly said they weren’t going to be bringing Rieder back. That means that, despite not having a POHO or GM, the Oilers have already determined a free agent will not be signed.

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Nicholson’s background is colourful as he’s seen a tremendous amount of success working with Hockey Canada. That involves putting good teams on the ice at international competitions through hiring the right executives and managers and creating a strong brand behind the Hockey Canada name. It makes sense that he was hired to lead Darryl Katz’s Oilers Entertainment Group endeavour, which spans well beyond just the hockey team.

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Still, working with Hockey Canada when you have unlimited resources at your disposal and much less pressure from media beyond the four-year Olympic cycle is a completely different animal from working in the NHL. Pressure is higher in this league, fans don’t relent, and 30 other organizations are competing with you at every turn.

Given the way things have gone since he’s filled into his role back in June 2014, you certainly have to question whether Nicholson is the person to dig the Oilers out of the mess they’ve found themselves in.

  • Deezy

    100 percent they need to start fresh. What a sad state of affairs, 12 out 13 years out of the playoffs. 4 years into the McDavid era, the team is arguably worse now then they were when we drafted him. How bad is is that I wonder if MacT as GM would have done a better job than Chiarelli?? Now, Oil Country waits to see if Nicholson, who appears to be in over his head, can somehow stumble onto the right GM and have that person start righting the ship. But, it doesn’t just start with the GM and POHO. The pro scouts have failed miserably in the McDavid era and there needs to be a house cleaning in that part of the organization. Also, let the GM hire the coach and let the coach decide on his assistants. Bring in an analytics team, for the love of God – it’s 2019!! We have 2 absolutely brilliant pieces to build around – start surrounding Connor and Draisatl before their contracts run out.

    • Needs to be a house cleaning period. The entire management staff should be out the door, no need to wait for replacements, no one of any substance will bother to apply to be the next sacrificial goat for these stooges. Get rid of them TODAY, and they may get some decent applicants, but not if they have to report to THE Lord Of The Rings, Mr Visually Better, and failed at every job he has been gifted Howson. We can now officially add idiot to Bobby Nick’s title as well.

  • Hemmercules

    What is Katz waiting for? These friends of his on the payroll are a nightmare. Be a smart business man and lose the guys that are sewering your business.

  • Goon

    If Nicholson honestly believes the difference between the Oilers being good and bad is ten goals from Tobias Rieder, he should be fired on the spot and should never hold another position in hockey management again.

    Katz needs to completely clean house, hire a smart GM and president, and then keep his grubby mitts off.

  • The Swarm

    Until they realize goalies are the the number one priority on any team they will continue to flounder. They almost won the cup with their last legitimate starting goalie (Roloson). Since then it’s been journeymen and untested projects. The roster isn’t nearly as bad as their record. Goaltending however? Different story.

  • Shane

    The problem is if he actually thinks this team was good enough at the start of the year, and was only one 3rd line winger away from being a playoff team. If he actually thinks that, then he’s not qualified to be in a leadership position at an NHL level.

  • hagar

    Lol! It’s been 5 years since Bobby came in to try and figure out the problem? That’s just depressing… I thought it was like two years ago.
    And people wonder why everyone’s so pissed. I can’t even keep track of time it’s been crap for so long.
    Enough time has passed since Bob got here for two rebuilds if any other team was doing it, not to even mention all the years wasted before he was brought in because the others couldn’t figure it out.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Bob has a pretty decent shot at the IIHF job so I think he will be gone and I do not think that is a bad thing. Remember there was only some change at the end of last season when the fans were screaming for heads, not significant to calm the masses. The fact that a lot of poeople remained working within the Oilers Mgmt and coaching structure didnt solve anything as we witnessed this season, mid season firings leaving Chia in place so long just sunk the ship even further. The failure to act even this season when thing were starting to spin out of control is non only a Bob failure but a Organisation failure and an Owner failure.

    There are too many of the wrong people still leading the charge, if Katz wants to convince Oilers fans that real change is coming, then he needs to make it happen and start cleaning house, Nicolson, Klowe, Mac T, Howson scouting staff the goalie coaches ( especially Schwartz ) all need to be show the door, Hitch I like but his defensive style isnt working its got the players to worried about defence to create offence and they are so hesitant in their puck movement decisions that it is costing us, the assistants needs to go too NO improvement on the PP PK and defensive systems two years running is a huge issue.

    Clean out the contracts you can, tryu and move who you can and fill the holes with some contracts of guys who are hungry because we sure arent going to have much cash to work with to sign guys thanks to Chia.

    And for god sakes Katz needs to get involved in this team, its great he lets the guys run the organisation when needed but there are times an owner needs to step in and have a say, and not just about raising food and beverage prices to make more money, show the fans you actually care about the team.

    It’s time for a real house cleaning, will Katz do that though, I doubt it

  • Axe

    This is getting embarrassing.. However out of most problems arises an opportunity.. This is an opportunity for the oilers to sideline burger Bob and hire an experienced and respected president of hockey operations who will then in turn hire a GM.. It doesn’t get any simpler than this… Nicholson has proven to be a complete fool with his comments.. And whoever came up with the idea of these luncheons or dinners with season ticket holders should also be fired (assuming it wasn’t him).. Literally the only person rivaling the oilers in their stupidity is Melnyk but at least he can boast more team success over the last thirteen years than the oilers can

    • Since 72

      Not getting! It’s a complete embarrassment, the only thing worse are the Ottawa Senators and their delusional owner! Please Daryl, once you fire them all you will feel better and sleep at night!!

  • Abagofpucks

    How does somebody who seems to have such a penchant for building wealth be such a failure at picking the right people to put together a reasonable competative NHL team; its mind boggling.

  • Randaman

    Actually, who really gives a flying F! This organization that I and many others have supported through the last 22 pathetic seasons can kiss my A$$! Kevin, Wayne, Bob, Craig & the rest of upper management need to be turfed!

  • CMG30

    The Oilers are a throwback organization that refuses to accept the game has changed and refuses to acknowledge that new, more effective, solutions have been found. As a result their competition is skating laps around them.

  • Goaltender Interference

    Katz will never fire these guys. But if they had any shred of responsibility they would be resIgning as a group. Pretty sure that Lowe and MacT would land on their feet and be okay financially. Howson, maybe not so much but hey – give the guy a job cleaning out the way-too-tiny bathrooms at Rogers Place then. Bobby has a bright future buggering up the IIHF ahead of him, so he’d be okay as well.

    Sadly none of these guys seem to have an understanding of accountability – so all of that is just a pipe dream.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Lowe: “I wonder if we have enough hot dog buns?”
    McTavish: “Attendance in Bakersfield is great!”
    Wayne Gretzky: “We need another meet-and-greet…what kind of snacks should we serve?”
    Nicholson: “I know these orange uniforms are ugly…the contract says we have to use them for another season!”

    I refuse to believe that none of these fools are involved in important hockey decisions.

  • FutureGM

    Pretty sad that this comment was needed to some to suggest everyone needs to be removed. Pull a dump truck up to Scotty Bowman and get Ken Holland or him to be POHO and hire GM accordingly

      • FutureGM

        Wisdom comes with age. Fact. I didn’t say to get him to run the show, but to kick it off. Right now we literally have the same guy kicking it off, again, that not only is responsible for this circus, but decided it was a good idea to not interview for the GM position. AND admit to it. I’d take my chances with Scotty

  • Abagofpucks

    I’m listening to bob talk to gregor right now and all i hear is Bn say things anybody would say, all you have to do is change a few words and it could be a conversation about women’s health problems.

    • Axe

      Ray Donovan Vs. The OBC… Post game entertainment.. Forget the hurricanes we would have the best post game show.. Except ours would be after our home losses…

  • Total Points

    A Company that I am involved with changed the GM in November. Kept the other staff and the results have been amazing. People that I thought were not performing all of a sudden performed beyond expectations. Turns out the direction from the GM was flawed

    The Oilers need to change the final decision maker at the top – who is probably Klowe (Nicholson was simply a mouth piece) and I would bet things would work themselves out.

  • oildawg99

    Does anyone else want to see Reider score a game winner at home and give the old middle finger salute up to the OBC….. I know it’s highly unlikely but i think it would be a moment I would enjoy,

  • Total Points

    Apparently Nicholson has 35 names on his list as potential GMs and will interview 12. I was going to comment that only someone who does not know what he is doing would have 35 names on a list but I think I better check my e-mail as I am pretty sure I am on the list. lol

  • Derzie

    “makes fans wonder whether the correct group is in place to lead the Oilers to success”
    “you certainly have to question whether Nicholson is the person to dig the Oilers out of the mess they’ve found themselves in”

    Are you being serious? Really? You think there are people that heard this from Nicholson and THAT was the nugget that made them start to question the leadership group? The first time it entered their mind? All faith in Bobby & The OBC prior to this? 14 years? Really?

    This is a prime example of writers lobbing softballs and enabling the gong show.

  • Serious Gord

    It’s probably not a comfortable idea for oil fans but unless there is a massive change in how the org is operated it is likely that we are nearing the midpoint of the years that mcdavid plays for the oil.

    Super stars usually spend their entire career or the productive years at least with one team. But it is not the rule particularly in the cap era. Unless this org not only gets competitive but remains consistently Connor will look to play and earn and win elsewhere.

    Regardless, the key decision is one that will impact the org for a decade or more.

    And it’s simple: remove the FOK and FOG.

  • TKO

    I don’t know about you guys, but i have zero confidence in the ownership and management of this club, and the odd mixed signals from the executives only makes one more apprehensive. I just have a bad feeling about the group making the critical decisions in Edmonton

  • Dark Knight Returns

    So…, you guys still think McDavid is looking forward to staying here during his best years???? He must really like Fringe Fest, hey?