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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Let’s talk about Nicholson

Hello hello, Nation people. It’s your old friend Baggedmilk back with another edition of the Monday Mailbag to fill your brain bank with all kinds of free knowledge. This week, we’re breaking down Bob Nicholson’s comments regarding Rieder, free agency, the Oilers’ core, and more. If you have a question for the Mailbag, you can always hit me up through email or on Twitter. Until then, enjoy the reprieve from work and/or life. Enjoy.

Oct 23, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Washington Capitals defensemen Michal Kempny (6) trips Edmonton Oilers forward Tobias Rieder (22) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Devon asks – How could I not ask what everyone thinks about Bob Nicholson’s comments regarding Tobias Rieder?

Jason Gregor:

When you have nine breakfast/luncheons in a live mic situation your odds of saying something you regret increase significantly. He shouldn’t have said it. I’m not going to try and read more into it. Dumb comment. He shouldn’t be talking about players. He isn’t the GM. Bad decision.

Dustin Nielson:

It’s a really bad look on Nicholson. The real concern for me would be if he actually believes what he said about Rieder scoring 10 to 12 goals probably pushing them into the playoffs. If he truly believes that I’d be worried as Oilers fans.

Robin Brownlee:

Stupid thing to say publicly. Just another trigger, something to jump on, for fans who are already ticked off.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

He targetted an individual player and that’s never for okay. There’s no doubt he regrets saying it and it’s caused a media firestorm which is not what this organization needed while in the middle of a GM search. I think what he was trying to say is that the Oilers have struggled to get goals from players not named McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, or Chiasson and if guys like Rieder, Lucic, or Brodziak had better seasons the team might have been a playoff team. My view on Bob Nicholson hasn’t really changed after this. It was a slip of the tongue but with that being said, this fan base has every right to be pissed off at the organization. They don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Christian Pagnani:

I didn’t think it was a big deal initially because I figured it was lost in translation via Twitter, but it was even worse than I thought. It’s bad. The more I think about it the worse it is.

Chris the Intern:

I’m dumbfounded by it. It was completely inappropriate and unprofessional and Nicholson should be ashamed of himself.

Baggedmilk:

They were ridiculous and he should be embarrassed. For a guy that talks about character a lot, these comments made it pretty clear that he doesn’t have much of it.

2) Lance asks – Do you think Bob Nicholson’s comments will affect the way future UFAs view the Oilers as a possible destination? Personally, if I was a free agent, I wouldn’t want to play in a place where the CEO could possibly take shots during a public meeting.

Jason Gregor:

That could be a good thing. You rarely build a winner via free agency, and often you end up overpaying, but players will still sign here. They will look to see who is the coach, who are the teammates and what opportunity will they have. Having a chance to play with McDavid or Draisaitl is very intriguing. That is more important than who is the team president. If the team is good these situations won’t be occurring. It was a dumb comment, no question. But it doesn’t erase the fact Rieder hasn’t scored a goal and for the past three months seems allergic to going to the blue paint. Nicholson made an ignorant comment and Rieder has been awful. Both can occur at the same time and one doesn’t change the other.

Dustin Nielson:

I don’t think free agents would be lining up to join the Oilers anyway so I doubt this comment damages things that much. The one area it may impact is other clients of Darren Ferris.

Robin Brownlee:

Doesn’t help, but really doesn’t hurt as much as some would suggest. Didn’t need these comments as evidence Edmonton is a bit of a tire fire right now. Win games. That impacts the ability to attract free agents more than anything.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

No, I really don’t. The Oilers have been a mess of an organization for over a decade and I don’t think one comment about a guy who hasn’t scored a single goal will make any sort of difference when it comes to free agents. Also, the expectation is that the team will have a new POHO/GM to court potential free agents this summer and I think those new hires will have a bigger effect than Nicholson when it comes to recruiting.

Christian Pagnani:

Yes and no. Maybe Darren Farris hesitates when Edmonton makes an offer for one of his free agents, but if they offer the best fit I doubt free agents will care what Bob Nicholson said.

Chris the Intern:

Absolutely. I’m pretty sure it’s hard enough to get free agents to come to Edmonton. McDavid is obviously the big catch, but there’s nothing else here that will attract anybody. Why would someone want to come to this disaster?

Baggedmilk:

Of course it does. Edmonton isn’t a destination for a lot of guys anyway and when you add on the layer that the CEO, not the GM or coach, could throw you under the bus then why would you want to deal with that?

3) Seth asks – I was at one of the early week season ticket holder meetings and Bob Nicholson suggested that there’s a possibility that the Oilers may not have a GM by the NHL Draft. What are your thoughts on this revelation?

Jason Gregor:

I wouldn’t advise it. I highly doubt that will occur. Him saying that is essentially him saying they will not rush the process. That is good. The GM won’t have much to do draft wise. Your head of amateur scouting makes the calls on draft picks. Why they need one is for trades. You will need a GM in pace as draft week and the week after the draft is where many bigger trades are made now. It would be a bad decision not to have the GM in place by the draft.

Dustin Nielson:

In a perfect world, you would like to have a GM by the draft but Keith Gretzky will end up running the draft anyway.

Robin Brownlee:

Not a revelation, really, as it’s always been a possibility. Most clubs aren’t allowing teams to talk to their people until after the season. Rushing it for the sake of the draft doesn’t make sense. It’s not ideal, but better to get the right person. Draft can be handled by Keith Gretzky and the scouts. That work is already done. It’s potential trades where not having the GM in place could be a problem.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I can see why that would happen. If they want to interview all potential candidates they might need to wait until the playoffs end to talk to everyone they want to. That would mean they’d have less than 20 days to interview any last-minute candidates. It’s not ideal and I really think the team should be doing everything they can to ensure they have a GM in place at least two weeks before the draft. Getting this hire right is crucial for the organization, but this upcoming offseason is also massive for the future of the team.

Christian Pagnani:

If it’s because they want to do a thorough search, great. If it’s because they want to appear like they’re looking at everyone, but end up with Keith Gretzky as their guy, less great.

Chris the Intern:

If that means that K. Gretzky will be drafting then I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Having a new GM come in last minute before the draft probably wouldn’t change the picks we were going to make. My only concern is if we start to make trades during the draft without a GM. I wouldn’t really want to trust anyone making trades that won’t be here long-term, or a new GM who has no experience with the team yet.

Baggedmilk:

It would be very Oilersy, would it? Who knows, Seth, at this point I’m just strapped in and holding on for dear life.

4) Sarah asks – In your opinion, who are the members of the Oilers’ core? Depending who you ask, there are varying opinions on the subject and I’m wondering what everyone here thinks? Thanks in advance.

Jason Gregor:

McDavid and Draisaitl are the two main ones. The rest are in a second level in my eyes, but none are untradeable if the deal made sense. The second level would be RNH, Klefbom, Nurse, Larsson and maybe Koskinen as he is their starter moving forward.

Dustin Nielson:

The Oilers core includes McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Klefbom and Nurse. With that being said McDavid and Draisaitl are the only untouchables. I could justify moving any of the other guys, moving Nuge would be really tough though and the price would have to be excellent.

Robin Brownlee:

McDavid. Draisaitl. RNH. Nurse. Klefbom.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I would say there are is defined as the players they would not look to trade this summer. Obviously, everyone (except McDavid) has a price tag, but I would say the Oilers core is McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, and Klefbom. I don’t think the organization should be too attached to anyone else. If a good offer comes along for anyone else, the team should seriously consider it.

Christian Pagnani:

Connor McDavid is the Oilers core. Most likely Leon Draisaitl too, but I don’t think anyone other than McDavid is part of the ‘core’. Core means not trading under any circumstance.

Chris the Intern:

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the core three. Untradeable if you ask me. I’d like to add Darnell Nurse, but I don’t think he’s quite there.

Baggedmilk:

Connor, Leon, Nuge, Klefbom, and Nurse. Seem about right?

5) Blake asks – If the 2018-19 Oilers season was a movie, what would its title be?

Jason Gregor:

“At the top of the movie poster, it would say… “Brace yourself for Peter”

The movie… As Bad as it Gets.

Dustin Nielson:

Easy one, Dumb and Dumber.

Robin Brownlee:

Home Alone

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Gross Incompetence.

Christian Pagnani:

Oilers: Far From Good.

Chris the Intern:

It’s kind of a funny story

Baggedmilk:

Kill Me Now

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  • Serious Gord

    BN looks to be a product of the Peter principle.

    As head of HC he was vaunted as an elite hockey executive. Yet virtually since the day he was hired by Katz it’s been one gaffe after another. From forensic audit to the bland interior of the new arena and almost unchanged and bland off-ice experience to the contaminated water to the inexcusable (and nonsensical) treatment of Reider.

    In the classic habit of an incompetent he projects blame/accountability on everyone but himself.

    Fire him forthwith.

  • Serious Gord

    How sad is it that we assume/acknowledge that FAs are not interested in joining the oil when they have:

    1. Connor McD

    2. A shiny new arena

    3. the Second-best fanbase in all of Hockey

    4. A well-heeled owner

    All of the above are offset by incompetent/inept management.

  • Nicholson is a rich goof who believes he’s a hockey mind. He surrounds himself with players from the Oilers glory days to feel as if he was part of the Oilers great past. He’s one of the biggest reasons that this once great organization is a joke. Regarding the core players the Oilers need a lot of help and if they go the draft and develop route it will take 3 to 4 seasons to get enough pieces to contend. To make the rebuild quicker the Oilers will have to trade 2 or 3 of their top players in order to get cap space and receive players and high draft choices they need to surround to players they keep. It takes quality to get quality so a few of the so called untouchables have to go. What have the Oilers won with them?

  • KPUZ

    I feel very sorry for the Edmonton media having to cover this “gong show” organization as their actual job. Oiler’s brass fails yearly to acknowledge the atrocities they have cost this once storied franchise.

    At least with their articles, they can “cut and paste” the same disasters from prior years (since 2006) to save them time.

    • Mr. McDavid

      all these media members
      in a position of influence
      in a position of negative influence.
      need to go, they need to go cover….
      anything else . Oiler fan s have been
      put through 12 years of negative.
      the last two from the media ,
      is unacceptable. Answer me this
      80% of the media covering the
      team hates !hates ! Oiler mngt.
      and every day they bring new and old
      comments of how bad the oilers brass is . go cover something else
      move it QUIT your job . because we
      don’t need to hear negative every day.
      how many leaf media types, bash
      leafs all day every day. we have 80 %
      get out of OUR heads. all day you
      brain wash the masses.
      go work somewhere else.
      we don’t need your negitve
      every day about the one we love.
      our oilers. there has been great
      stories , blatant abuse by officials.
      yet on those occasions you ignore
      the real stories and go to
      your agenda …bash the Oiler s
      go work somewhere else
      and stop brainwashing the fans
      leave

    • Mr. McDavid

      all these media members
      in a position of influence
      in a position of negative influence.
      need to go, they need to go cover….
      anything else . Oiler fan s have been
      put through 12 years of negative.
      the last two from the media ,
      is unacceptable. Answer me this
      80% of the media covering the
      team hates !hates ! Oiler mngt.
      and every day they bring new and old
      comments of how bad the oilers brass is . go cover something else
      move it QUIT your job . because we
      don’t need to hear negative every day.
      how many leaf media types, bash
      leafs all day every day. we have 80 %
      get out of OUR heads. all day you
      brain wash the masses.
      go work somewhere else.
      we don’t need your negitve
      every day about the one we love.
      our oilers. there has been great
      stories , blatant abuse by officials.
      yet on those occasions you ignore
      the real stories and go to
      your agenda …bash the Oiler s
      go work somewhere else
      and stop brainwashing the fans
      leave

      • Lowe enuf

        Oh buddy if you think the local media are negative…. you know absolutely nothing about nhl hockey. The media in Montreal and Toronto are far tougher on their clubs than the buffet line cruisers in Edmonton could ever conceive of being. Sites like ON are finally giving the fans a place to express their frustration. The media in Edmonton certainly has never done that. They tippy toe around trying not to offend anyone. There is only one source of real negativity surrounding this team and it radiates from this steaming pile of a team. Management, under achievers, cling ons and lords of the rings.

  • TKB2677

    So if Nicholson singled out Lucic instead of Rieder, do fans get outraged or give him a standing ovation? My guess is he’s applauded for calling a spade a spade.

    For the record, I think Nicholson saying anything was a dumb mistake and he should have never have said it. But at the same time, I get where he is coming from to a degree. I am sure the owner, management, most definitely the fans and even some of the players if you gave them some truth cerium are sick to death of a few players on this team who were brought in to do a job and all they are doing is cashing pay checks while others bust their ass.

    • Derian Hatcher

      Ok, so when are the people make, endorse, bystand, or sit idley by drinking red wine, accountable? There is a common denominator in the past dozen years – poor evaluation of talent, foot-in-mouth disease, taking fans for granted, entitlement, arrogance, horrible personnel decisions, and overall incompetent management. Now we have another blithering idiot in Nickelson who can’t even manage to string a literate sentence together when asked about the plan going forward. And this is the guy who is going hire the guy to fix things. Ok.

    • Serious Gord

      I think you are wrong – it wouldn’t matter which player was singled out, fans would have been rightly outraged.

      There are manifold (manifold, manifold? there are sooo many) reasons why this org is a serial, record-setting failure on-ice. To be the president of this org and actually think – let alone publically verbalize – that it can be isolated to one player’s performance is all the evidence one needs to demonstrate incompetence at a level that warrants his termination.

  • Spydyr

    When comments like Nicholson’s come out or the infamous six rings press conference it gives us a peak behind the curtain and allows us to see how the “Oilers Braintrust” thinks and operates.

    It makes me worry about the future of the franchise. When will enough be enough for the fans? I think that point is closer than the Oilers realize.

    The Katz curse continues.

    • Hemmercules

      Who are you kidding. Those tickets are as good as sold until the end of time. They will hire a few more idiots this summer, bring in a few new players, ship a couple players out then sell some hope like they always do. We have Connor McDavid! Guaranteed playoffs! Look at all the leftover free agents we signed for bottom dollar to fill this sad roster with warm bodies! The zombies will be back in full force next season, filling the building without issue until December/January until they are out of the playoff race. By then it’s too late, the tickets are already sold so who cares if the buyer actually shows up to the game or not. Rinse, repeat. Been going on for years and years, why would it change now?

      • Spydyr

        if it was not for McDavid I do believe many more fans would be not renewing their season tickets.

        The Oiler organization is blessed to have one of the best fan bases in the NHL. Imagine some other markets with the Oilers record of futility. Yet the owner allows the same incompetent people to run things. It is surreal the hubris of the organization.

        The Katz curse continues.

  • camdog

    My issue is this is a cumulation of events, if it was one player who cares, but it’s not. This was following Nicholson’s comment about culture not long ago. Then there’s the JP scenario playing out. Year after year the same kind of comments on different players and I’m getting tired of it.

    From all the communications from Bob I get the impression that his number 1 quality is loyalty. And loyalty for Bob trumps everything else. He gets mad when you mention Old Boys because he’s part of the club. The talk of hiring Holland as President another GM that has shown he can’t manage the cap doesn’t really impress me, he seems like another yesterday man.

    And with all the defence of the pro scouting I’m reminded about the Strome comments that leaked to Hockey Night In Canada. It might have been 30 games into his Oiler career and the Oilers put in out on National Television “Strome’s not the player we thought he was”. I’m guessing nobody actually watched him play before they traded for him, because he was the same player he was here as he was in New York..,

  • CMG30

    On a different club Nicholsons ‘gaff’ would just be poor form. The reason fans are so upset in this organization is because it’s another little glimpse into the thought process of the suits running the show… and it’s not pretty. It’s another brushstroke that’s painting a picture of the top guys unaware of what the real trouble is here and another instance where they’re trying to pin blame on someone else instead of where it belongs, themselves.

  • blobbo

    Seriously, hockey is becoming tiresome. Maybe I would be more enthusiastic if the local team didn’t suck so bad but even at that, the season is long and there are too many boring games.

    I love it that the Canadians are doing so well at tennis. I wish we could see more. Get on it, TSN!

  • Jerri Kurli

    I think Bob Nicholson has character and it got him into hot water. Let’s be clear: Bob Nicholson is the CEO of the OEG, he is not supposed to be in charge of hockey ops. His comment came out in poor context, let’s be honest, he used Rieder as an example but his point was that his support and depth players have let the team down. Rieder signed a 2 million dollar deal and has done absolutely nothing. Lucic, Brodziak, Strome/Spooner/Gagner, Kassian (until recently), Khaira, etc have all failed to either repeat what they have proven they are capable of, take take the next step in maturing their game. The team needs to support McDavid, Draisaitl and Nuge. The only player that has done that consistently this year is Chiasson and he’s the lowest paid player on the team.
    Nicholson is the right guy for the business side of things, not hockey operations. If he can prove to the fans and Oilers media he can hire the right guy for the task then all will be forgiven. Fingers crossed.

    • TKB2677

      I agree with you on Nicholson is much better suited to do all the business stuff. What he needs to do is to put in a good hockey man to be Hockey Ops Pres. A good leader recognizes his strengths and weaknesses. In the area he is weak in, he brings in people to cover off that.

      Whether that happens, remains to be seen. I hope this happens but I have my doubts. Prove me wrong Oilers!!

      • Jerri Kurli

        He’s had plenty of success running Hockey Canada in a similar yet larger role of endorsing and growing the game from Men’s to women’s to Major Juniors. He’s done an incredible job. At the end of the day it’s the Entertainment business which he has proven to be one of the best in the business at (for hockey). The guys resume speaks for itself. That’s my evidence Gord.

        • Serious Gord

          His HC gig was not hockey biz – it was ambassadorial mostly. The rise of the world juniors was largely the product of TSN and full credit to them.

          And the entertainment vslue of the oil remains a disgrace. Just look at the comments over the past few years on this site. The inside of the rink is as bland as it gets and can’t hold a candle to its peers. Ditto the food and bev. So NOT the best in the biz.

  • Total Points

    The NHL has changed quite a bit in the last few years and I don’t know if the experienced GM’s have what it takes to manage in the new NHL anymore.

    I have seen in businesses that I am familiar with, companies run by the veteran GM’s lagging behind and the ones run by new breed GM’s.

    It was risky hiring a new un-proven GM. It will be interesting to see what the Oilers do.

  • Randaman

    BM, you better hope that chimp doesn’t have a good lawyer. They could sue for defamation of character by having Nicholson’s name there (Implying). Not fair to the chimp at all. LOL