The Way I See It

Whether you’re talking hockey, business or anything else in life, I’ve always put a lot more faith in people who tend to under-promise and over-deliver than those with a track record of doing the opposite. I suppose you can put that approach in the “talk is cheap” category.

In that regard, the Edmonton Oilers have been doing it so wrong for so long in so many areas, it’s no wonder their fan base, one that has been unquestionably loyal, is eroding as year upon year of failure pile up. Nothing will ever change that as much as winning will. Again, talk is cheap, but until they get to that point, being straight with the people who pay the tab is a start.

The media availability CEO Bob Nicholson had last Monday seemed like as good a place as any to start. Nicholson addressed that directly in one of his answers, saying that the team was going to be more transparent, more upfront about things. Instead of starting down that welcome road later in the week addressing the status of the knee injury to Connor McDavid, only the best player on the planet, the Oilers went the other way and issued one of the lamest, say-nothing updates ever delivered.

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It was, to say the least, a disappointing juxtaposition — even allowing for the fact no team shares every detail about hockey ops or injuries to players. That doesn’t happen. In this case, though, with the Oilers out of the playoffs, the Oilers could have and should have played it straight. The season is over. It’s not like they’d be supplying a potential post-season opponent with any intel — a tear of the posterior-cruciate ligament — about their franchise player. It was an opportunity lost to deliver on what Nicholson has talked about earlier in the week.

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“We have to give the fans a plan and we have to make sure the fans understand the plan,” he said. “It starts right away, as soon as the general manager is in place. We have to make sure that we’re getting that out in front of everyone. The one thing I can tell you is we’re going to be a much more open organization in terms of communication in all different ways. We’ve got to clarify what that is but we want the fans to feel more part of day-to-day operations of OEG in all areas, and that includes hockey.”

That was followed on Friday by a news release:

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(Edmonton, AB) – Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid was injured during a game on April 6th in Calgary.

The Edmonton Oilers medical staff, in collaboration with top orthopedic specialists, have determined a rehabilitation protocol for Connor which will begin immediately. 

It wasn’t until reporters started digging around that we found out about the tear to the PCL. Again, with the season over, there was no chance of providing any useable information to other teams by providing a meaningful update about the injury. There was a chance, however, to provide fans the transparency Nicholson was promising just days earlier. No cigar. They blew it.

I don’t think that’s nit-picking, but even if it is, the Oilers have brought a higher level of scrutiny on themselves. Nicholson is asking fans to believe that he is willing to move heaven and earth to find a replacement for fired GM Peter Chiarelli. He’s asking fans to believe interim GM Keith Gretzky is in the running for the job, but, in the name of doing away with less-than-best-practices employed by the team in the past, is nothing more than a candidate. He’s asking fans to believe a full assessment of hockey ops will be done once a new GM is in place.

Maybe all of that’s true. Maybe you believe him. I have my doubts. The way I see it, when you aren’t willing to deliver the truth about the small stuff — even if it’s just about omitting information, like the PCL tear in McDavid’s knee — you can’t be trusted to play it straight with the big stuff. Talk is always cheap, and it’s especially de-valued around here. We were told that’s going to change. Let’s see it.


As of writing this (9:45 a.m.), Tiger Woods is in contention at The Masters. While I have no delusions Woods will ever return to the dominant form we saw from him a dozen years ago, it’s obvious he’s overcome his physical (back) and personal issues to the point where he’s capable of contending most Sundays.

Having Woods, the driving force behind increased sponsorship and bigger purse during his prime years, on the leaderboard surrounded by the latest wave of great, young players is good for the game. I don’t know if he’ll win today, but having Woods in the hunt at the first major of the golf season is a jolt for the sport.

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Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    We all know teams like to keep injuries a secret sometimes during the season, even more so near the end of the season with the playoffs on the horizon and of course in the playoffs, McDavid injury update was a little bizarre, because the Oilers not really saying what happened is just going to send media digging and fans digging to see what the scoop is, which could have easily be avoided by saying what it was, I mean the season is over so why hide the info?

    Luci the Oilers never really said what was going on and we can speculate about it being a number of things, until the Oilers and Lucic say what it is, the rumor mill will be in gear, again could be avoided by just saying what it is…The Oilers do some strange things when it comes to their media releases

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    And as for Bob’s version of transparency and all the plan and the sear and talking to people about who the best people are for the GM job…sorry but those statements ring pretty hollow when they say they havent really done anything, it’s like cute little buzz words to say to the fans so we and the media covering the Oilers think there is real progress going on…and there isnt…I dont have much faith in what Bob say’s.

    • Oscar

      Just imagine what could have been, yes …

      Maroon … Hart Trophy winner … German Dude
      Hart Trophy winner … Hyphen … Tkachuk
      chiasson … Calder Trophy winner … Ebs14
      Khaira … Gags… Caggs


      Some other plug/Koskinen

      • Gravis82

        I dont know why people are trashing you lol. We would be in the playoffs with this roster. Oiler fans deserve this team. Hmmm, lets seee…Maroon, McDavid, Dra on line 1. Hall, nuge, Eberle on line 2. What else. How about Tkachuk and debrincat on line 3 with some big bruising center we find in free agency. Like seriously, there is no getting that back. It was RIGHT THERE for the taking. Gross.

      • Boba The Fett

        Several issues, Hall would not have been a Hart Trophy Winner had he stayed here, and he himself admitted that it took him going to Jersey to realize he had to have a dialogue with the coaches to succeed. Plus he cannot stay healthy.

        29 other teams in the NHL would have picked Puljujarvi over Tkachuk, Brian Burke even admitted that Calgary would have.

        Lots of teams passed on Debrincat, not just the Oilers.

        Gagner isnt here if we dont trade Ebs so that doesnt work

        What Calder trophy winner are you talking about?

        Benning as a 1RD is a horrible idea.

        Gravel/Gryba is a horrid 3rd pair, and the exact type of players everybody wants out of here.

        QUIT using hind sight to analyze what players we could have had (Tkachuk, Debrincat, Ebs, etc) if Ebs was here at 6M people would be fuming at his 35 pts.

        Hindsight is a horrible way to judge talent, anyone can be an all star GM if they had that benefit.

        • Gravis82

          Hall would not have won the Hart, yes, but who cares.We would have had a player good enough to win the hart trophy playing on the second line destroying other teams 2nd lines. That is argubaly more valuable, especially when you have McDavid beating any other teams 1st line. No he would not have won the Hart, but that is not the point. Its not the trophy, its the fact we gave away a player capable of winning one for nothing.

        • Well said Boba, any fan of the Oilers shouldn’t be pissed at management for Eberle moving, he was payed as a leader on this club and quit. I question the time we moved him for value reason but he had checked out.

  • Leaking5w-30

    At this point I feel sorry for bloggers and reporters who have to cover oilers media events/ tweets. Non information, misinformation, ignorant comments. At least as a fan I can just ignore most of this.

  • Leaking5w-30

    At this point I feel sorry for bloggers and reporters who have to cover oilers media events/ tweets. Non information, misinformation, ignorant comments. At least as a fan I can just ignore most of this.

    Nice to get the tiger update….

    • Derzie

      The ‘Tiger love’ is fascinating. He’s a great golfer and a really shtty person. I’m always stunned how people who seem to be pretty sharp ignore the person part & worship the golfer. Bad people do much, much better than good people do. Society is super weird.

      • Boba The Fett

        I admittedly cannot stand Tiger due to what he has done in his personal life over the past decade and the fact that every camera/reporter is only focused on him when he is in a tournament.

        With that being said even I notice a huge change in his demeanor over the past 18 months towards other players as well as media and patrons. His winning killed my pools but it is great for the sport

  • Oilers_1978

    Oilers top management won’t change a bit under katz ownership.

    It’s hard to believe nickolson will be able to bring any solid changes this time as he has become one of lazy old boys too.

    Even if a new outsider GM is hired katz will keep meddling with decision making and won’t allow to clean house.

    • polarcap

      Get real. The oilers wouldn’t be in Edmonton. of it wasn’t for Katz. Rodgers center wouldn’t be built. Katz built a major corporation and a major player in the development of Edmonton. He can’t micromanage the oilers. If he was running the oilers, the oilers would be winning. The OBC are hall of famers. They have given more to Edmonton than they will ever get back. K Lowe lives in Edmonton. He could have just as easily gone to Nashville like Ryan Smyth. If Katz decides to meddle, things will change.

  • toprightcorner

    I have sort of been on Nicholson’s side the past few months, believing that he has really learned from his past mistake of how he hired Chiarelli. The next 6-8 weeks was the perfect time to prove to fans that things would change and he would make sure if it.

    I understand keeping certain things law to your chest as to not inform other teams of certain situations, but every fan, even min Oilers fans, wanted to know what McDavids injury was. By not being completely upfront, it tells me that Nicholson is part of the problem.

    If the Oilers want the fans to trust them moving forward, it is imperative that they hire a POHO and move Nicholson out of the hockey side and have him solely work on. The OEG side.

    A move like that would by the Oilers a lot of trust that this time things will actually change for the better.

  • D

    I’m curious – are there any rules / laws in place at the provincial level in Alberta, or the federal level in Canada that prevents disclosure of medical information? I know in the United States, health information privacy under the HIPAA law is a big deal. I wonder if the Oilers simply cannot release information on specific medical injuries, or can only do so with the player’s consent?

  • The future never comes

    This organization run by these pompous knobs has gotten so lame and stale. I think I am just going to enjoy the playoff hockey and get off of here for awhile. I totally forgot about this team since they ended the season and my life was a lot more fulfilling. Plus, it’s fun watching competent teams play in the playoffs as opposed to coming here and being reminded of our current-never-ending-nightmare. Take care.

  • the reasonable person

    Call me old fashioned but I don’t mind injury details being kept to a minimum. The less info opponents get the better even if the current season’s over. Shouldn’t get upset about this of all things.

  • This team is a mess. All the true fans know what is needed to turn this pathetic team around. Unfortunately too many blind homer think it will only take moving 2 or 3 players and everything will be fine. This team needs to change at least 12 players over a 2/3 year span to be a real contender. They have to hire a new GM, soon, that has autonomy to clean this mess up, without interference from above. Only a crazy person would keep doing the same thing with the same personal and expect them to improve.

    • Bumbo

      Hasn’t this team been changed over 2 or 3 times already. Isn’t Nuge the only player who has been here for any length of time and any time people say we need to get rid of this, that or the other hindsight usually points out the faults. Yes this line up needs changes but caution is needed or else it will be a repeat if the cycle the oilers have been stuck in for the last 12 years.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers should send out a press release on Monday, not a tweet, an official release, that details every nagging injury that every player has. Clear up the Lucic rumors, is Larsson’s back giving him issues, did Khaira have a nagging injury, what about Brodziak? If an Oilers has as much as a bone bruise or a sprained finger, the Oilers need to share it. If they want fans to believe they are being transparent, go overboard. If Manning has a bed wetting issue, let the fans know.

    Set the precedent and over communicate until the fans say they are over sharing.

    When I am at it, the Oilers should give GM updates every 2 weeks. They dont have to give any names, just say they have had a few interviews, and have a few more coming up.

    Keeping the fans I formed is the best option right now

  • lee

    Everything starts at the top, you have an owner who took all the cities and provinces money to build himself a bigass building and then promptly moved to a warmer climate.
    When he left he gave total control to Nicholson who clearly has no idea how to run an NHL team, because he had zero experience. Nicholson for his part let a GM continue to make brutal decisions that will hurt this teams for years to come, and only did something about it when the angry villagers with pitch forks sat outside his office.
    Really this organization is so inept of doing something right that its almost like Katz hates this team and he will do what ever he can to run it into the ground as long as it still makes money.
    How can 1 organization have so many people at the top that are so incompetent, seriously, how is this possible.
    I think most of the fans would be happy if Nicholson and his 3 or 4 upper management buddies do the right thing and leave. Its not like any of them need the money, why are they still here?
    Man, how many mistakes can 1 organization make before they start doing things right.

  • Drinking my Oilers problems away...

    Robin, I’ve got to ask seeing how you have been writing about the Oilers for quite some time now on and off the beat but how frustrating is it that nothing seems to change as far as answers from this team? Why is that this team can’t be honest about anything? Why is that we just keep hearing the same questions asked over and over again by media members that get us nothing but the same garbage answers? Why isn’t there any media members actually challenging these guys in person and asking tough questions?

    • camdog

      Nicholson’s job is to make money, that is all. Whether that’s trying to sell season tickets or building the next over priced Bobby Nick’s burger. Team was quiet on McDavid because he’s the only reason to buy season tickets, even the Oilers Executive understand this.

      In respect to answering questions honestly – they don’t know the answers so it doesn’t matter what question you have, they just don’t know.

  • Tonya Harding Compete Level

    I don’t get the emphasis on being more transparent/open with the fan base. Yes, a very general outline of next steps would be reassuring but I would caution we don’t need another MacT telegraphing every move or need before it is made (almost sounds like he might be part of that discussion/direction). What we need is a capable manager that actually takes stock in researching/due diligence for pro acquisitions, cap considerations, supporting hockey decisions with analytics where applicable and making sure the right staff is in place to give the players and coaches the best chance at success. I don’t want our GM saying we need this right shot offensive dman or this type of 3rd line centre and then trying to make a deal. I’d prefer the make a move first, justify it after to the fans in a way that shows that due diligence was made. Too many times with Chiarelli the justification was terrible and everyone but the Oilers seemed to know more background about why it was the wrong move.

  • Ratt McNuge

    More promises from Nicholson when he has failed to keep any of his previous ones. He engages in corporate doublespeak. The “culture” of the Oilers is one of secrecy and elitism. That comes from the top. Daryl Katz needs to change his ways soon. It’s probably too late for him not to be forever remembered as the owner who ruined McDavid.

    • What the

      Connor is not ruined and there’s plenty of runway left.

      What you should have said is that Katz will be remembered for squandering The early years of McDavid’s career.

  • percy

    Would someone please make Katz an offer he can’t refuse and buy this team, until he’s gone I don’t see anything changing. If you want to change things quit buying burgers, beer and seats, simple.

    • Ratt McNuge

      I’m an out of province fan who is unable to speak with my wallet. When I was in Edmonton, I was a tier 2 fan anyway. Maybe got to one game a year and only if the ticket was offered to me cheap or free.

  • 50 Flex

    I just want management that can prove the fans wrong. You want the management to prove the fans wrong. It shows that they know more than you do and deserve their positions. The bloggers of the Oilers have consistently shown that they know more than the Oilers do. They write articles about advanced stats and the Oilers release statements about the guy in charge didn’t even use advanced stats. Bob and the rest of management are a complete joke.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Everyone says it’ll get better, it’ll get better. But the sad reality is, it won’t. As you said Robin, they had a chance to start fresh and they blew it. The Oilers are like an addiction. You know they’re bad for you, you know they won’t help you, yet you keep following/supporting them because you don’t know better. It’s sad that of the two teams I decide to cheer for in my lifetime, both are frigging train wrecks for the most part.

  • 50 Flex

    Firing the GM and waiting this long to hire a new one was the worst thing Nicholson could have done for his career. It put all the attention on him and completely exposed how useless he is.

  • Oilerman99

    Lest we forget who hired PC and sat idly by and watched him methodically plunder our team. BN has zero credibility with the fans and therefore can’t be trusted to move this team forward. Throw in McT, Messier, Coffey, WG and the rest of the OBC still milling about living on past glories. Time to move on from this group. Come on Katz do it for the fans whom pay the tab here.

  • Schmidt Head

    Nothing meaningful will change with this team until the culture around it, and the thinking within it, does and there’s no indication that’s about to happen any time soon.

    Consider – since the finals appearance in ’06, there have been 8 different coaches, 5 different GMs, 5 different captains and even 2 different owners. Included among that lot are several from outside the organization.

    Also in that time frame, there have been 10 (soon to be 11) top 10 draft picks including 6 top 5 and an almost unbelievable 4…. FOUR!!… first overall picks.

    Dozens of players of all grades have come and gone by trades, signings and what have you and for all of that, where are we, exactly? What has it all gotten us?

    Furthermore, ask yourself this one, all-important question; even with all of that change, what’s the one thing that’s remained constant throughout it all?

    The answer – A group of individuals consumed with self-worship, who think it’s still 1985 and that they’re the almighty gods of the hockey world, who’ve been so immersed in and enraptured by this Boys-on-the Bus mystique that they can’t see that they’re the only ones left in the world who think they’re legends!

    We have an owner who knows nothing about the game and could care less. He cares only about making money and hanging with his heroes. We have a CEO whose reputation far surpasses his actual accomplishments, most of which came about because of players lent to him by others and an entire management team who believes everyone and everything BUT them is the problem!

    How, I ask you, is anything positive supposed to flow from an environment like that?!

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Couldn’t agree more, Robin. The Oilers are a joke of a franchise when it comes to being honest with their fans. And if you can’t trust Bob Nicholson at his word there, what can you trust him with? Me, nothing.

    Fire him, along with Lowe and MacTavish, who have been at the trough FAR too long, and through ALL THE BAD TIMES, together. Please do it now and don’t make us watch terrible hockey for the McDavid’s whole career, and even afterwards! McDavid is such a blessing and we should be able to enjoy great hockey for the entirety of his career. Keeping the old boys club around is only going to ensure that even that golden era is wasted for all Oiler fans.

      • Gravis82

        The trashes for hall and eberle comments are hilarious. People would rather have lucic, russel and kassian vs. the extra 100 points that Hall and Eberle would have added to this team for the same cap hit. Why? Because Hall is not Yzerman and said something mean once to the gf of some guy that worked at the city (making this up, because this is how ridiculous we are) and eberle is not Brand Marchand…but still manages to score 20 goals every year and for the most part avoid serious injuries caused by his smaller stature.

  • Derzie

    The old ‘fool me once..’ adage applies here. Does it still need to be speculated as to how inept & dishonest this organization is? They’ve been peddling hope for so long and it still works. Don’t show up to their pressers. Don’t give them any time or money. It’s the only hope for breaking the cycle. Court jesters without a court just fade away.

      • Kool-Aid Man

        This is just asinine, it’s not just the on-ice product these idiots have destroyed, the food and drink suck more now than ever and are blatantly, ludicrously priced. The pre-, post- and in-game entertainment is boring and stale and really no fun.

        Oiler management have disrespected the fans for so long now they literally are saying “f*** the fans, they will pay any price we ask, for the s***iest quality and these stupid fans will keep on coming for more, like the gullible idiots they are.” Katz apparently doesn’t care because his accountant has told him nothing is wrong because the money is pouring in. Nothing to see, nothing to change.