At The Top

It goes without saying we’re not going to get a look at CEO Bob Nicholson’s short list of candidates to take over as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers. I’m just as interested to know how many potential candidates out there have Edmonton on top of their short list of destinations. Not many, I bet.

While there’s an assistant-GM or two who’ll consider the job here because it’s generally smart to take a promotion and a raise in pay even if the new job isn’t ideal, how many top-shelf candidates are willing to wade into a situation with less than full control and so many old ghosts – specifically the fraternity fans call the Old Boys Club — walking the halls?

Nicholson could have and should have set the table for the new boss by making changes based on what he’s seen during his years on the job here, but declared that won’t be the case. His intention is to make his hire and then look at hockey operations in concert with the new GM. I bet a lot of the candidates Nicholson was hoping to attract made a mental note of that April 8.

In the days since then, we know of at least three people who’ve been mentioned as candidates who won’t be coming here. Steve Yzerman (who was never going to take the job) was hired as GM of the Detroit Red Wings today, as everybody expected. Ken Holland, mentioned by many as somebody on Nicholson’s list, is expected to stay in Motown as senior V.P. Former coach Ralph Krueger, fired by Craig MacTavish via Skype in favor of Dallas Eakins, of all people, has already said, “No thanks.”

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Sep 8, 2016; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; Team Europe head coach Ralph Krueger looks at the scoreboard during the second period of the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game against Team North America at Videotron Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think all the old Oilers hanging around Edmonton in hockey ops or otherwise had anything to do with Yzerman returning to Detroit or Holland staying put. Their ties to Detroit are obvious. We do know the Oilers inquired about Holland, but I don’t see it happening. As for Krueger, while he was diplomatic about his reasons for not being interested in the gig, why would he subject himself to another go-round after being dumped as he was?

I think the OBC will be more of a factor when it comes to some of the in-demand young AGM’s around the league, the kind of guys Nicholson is trying to attract. What about Pat Verbeek in Tampa Bay? We’re told he interviewed with Nicholson, but would Verbeek rather be an AGM under, say, Yzerman in Detroit or take the big chair here? Same with somebody like Bill Guerin, AGM in Pittsburgh, or Kelly McCrimmon in Vegas?

Do guys like that come here knowing cleaning house, which needs to be done, means getting rid of old Oilers owner Daryl Katz grew up cheering for and who are still around despite years and years of failure? Do they take the job knowing some calls they will have to make will be decided, or at least very heavily influenced, by Katz and to some degree by the OBC fraternity, if they have other real options? Maybe. Maybe not.

Of course, there are reasons why Edmonton will be attractive, starting with building blocks like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. That’s not a bad square one. Anybody who really values the jolt of working in a hockey town in front of a rabid fan base knows that Edmonton provides that. New rink. Owner who spends to the cap. All play into the opportunity to move into the GM ranks and build a career. All will be factors for guys like McCrimmon, Verbeek and Guerin.

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Likewise, all the old Oilers, the OBC, who are still here play into the opportunity as well because Nicholson wouldn’t, or couldn’t, make the call to provide the new hire with a clean slate, or at least a good portion of one, to work with. How much will it impact the process of landing the best possible candidate? I can’t say for sure, but as the days pass by in Nicholson’s search and jobs are filled elsewhere, we’re going to find out.


Last year, the fifth edition of Hockey Helps the Homeless in Edmonton had a record year by raising $200,000 to assist the Mustard Seed and Jasper Place Wellness Centre in helping the homeless and those living in poverty.

With the event fast approaching May 10 at the Terwillegar Rec Centre, we’re hoping citizens of Oilersnation step up to help, as they always do, to make HHTH the biggest success yet. Last year’s response was fantastic, thanks in large part to the 10th anniversary Oilersnation party that raised $5,000 for HHTH, with every penny staying right here in Edmonton.

In these final days leading up to the tournament, we’re hoping to sell as many $1,000 pennant sponsorships, and $100 Mega-Raffle tickets as we can. If you own a small business or want a keepsake for the games room at home, pennant sponsorships are perfect – you get a pennant with your company logo signed by our pros. With the Mega-Raffle, just 100 tickets are printed. The winner gets a Theatre Suite for 10 guests, food and a bar tab at an Oilers game next season hosted by Ron and Linda Low. Good times.

You can check out the website, purchase pennant sponsorships and Mega-Raffle tickets or donate here.

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Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • MrBung

    This outfit is lost. Connors agent will be requesting a trade in about a year or two. Bobbi Nicks hasn’t do dishes his first forensic audit and Has already started a second. Guy and org is lost.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    LMAO All the Lamers trolls going on and on and on about how the Lamers were going to dominate the Avs…Johnny Choke Hockey couldnt get anything done much like the rest of the team, Garbage bag day is upon them, get those golf course reservations in…

    Cant hide in the playoffs, another first round exit..whoo hoo way to keep that streak alive!

    • JumboJim

      While the Oilers still unequivocally suck, it’s worth noting other Canadian teams suck, too. This is data since 2012, which I’ve picked as it’s the year after the Canucks finished a series of four Canadian teams making the finals in the previous 7 seasons and the first year the Jets were back in action.

      Starting with the 2012 playoffs
      – the Oilers have made the fewest playoff appearances (1). The Sens and Leafs are tied for first (4)
      – the Canucks have the fewest playoff game wins (3), followed by Flames (6) and Oilers (7). The Sens lead with 21 games won.
      – The Canucks and Leafs* have the fewest series wins (0). Flames and Oilers have 1 each, Jets* 2. Montreal and Ottawa lead with 3 series wins the past 8 seasons.

      *Jets and Leafs still active this post-season.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Which hurts worse. Finishing first and winning the conference, then exiting in 5 games, or not missing the playoffs? It’s a really tough call. We never had any illusions of a cup this year, but I think the Cowpokes down south did…lol

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Oh c’mon. the Lamers trolls were right they are going to see their guys hoist a cup…all those jocks have to go into the garbage bags on locker clean out day…wonder if they are planning the parade route right now to mark the occasion of another first round exit

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    AND CALGARY IS OUT (again).

    Fun fact for those keeping track, since they won the cup, Calgary has made the playoffs 14 times. Of thsose 14 times, 12 have been accompanied by a first round exit. So basically, Calgary IN THE LAST 14 PLAYOFF APPERANCES, sucks donkey-balls when the going gets tough. Soft ass club with no heart or grit. Unlike the Oilers when we made the playoffs 2 years ago.

    • Kevwan

      I hear a lot of flamer fans complain about the Oilers moving up in the lottery. “Wasting talent.” “Shouldn’t be allowed to move up for 10 years” Blah blah and more blah.

      OK then I agree. And by the same logic….

      The flamers are “wasting opportunity” everytime they make the playoffs. Surely Montreal or Phoenix would’ve at least been competitive against the Avs. This is becoming tradition in Cowtown. How about the flamers not be allowed in the playoffs for the next 10 years. If they qualify for the post season the next best team that didn’t qualify should get their spot. Why let the flamers waste the chance at the cup – It makes sense.

      Peter Chiarelli might be the worst GM in the history of the NHL. And yet……

      The Oilers have more playoff wins in his 3 years as GM than the flamers do in Treliving’s 5 years as boss

    • FISTO Siltanen

      So true.

      Over same period oilers only made it 11x BUT got out of the 1st round 7x.

      And I love how one of the 2x the Flames got out of the 1st round was when they were the 8th seed and were gifted the 5th seed. Miracle on ice!!!

    • Rouquer

      I’m a hardcore oilers guy since the 80’s and have a long hard hatred for anything calgary, but let’s be real. Yes they got knocked, yes there track record for the playoffs have been just as abysmal on paper but our team has blown in the 14 as well. Calgary doesn’t get a pass but neither do we. Period.

  • Lowe enuf

    Well….. I have to admit that the Flames absolutely crapping the bed is sweet beyond words! Now all they will have to talk about is how great the ‘88 Olympics were.

  • Ted

    Just a query why would you not play Neal with the most playoff experience on the team? $6M in the press box in desperation mode doesn’t make sense to me! Not that I care either! Lames you suck!

  • Kr55

    Any candidate being interviews that isn’t immediately asking Bob if he will have the authority to add/remove anyone he wishes in hockey ops is someone too dumb to fix this team. Unfortunately, Bob’s answer to that question might mean only a dumb person that won’t ask it will end up on his short list.

  • JumboJim

    I’ve had an idea prompted by James Neal scratched last night in Calgary… it’s probably not a good one, but what the heck

    James Neal to Edmonton for a 5.75m cap hit until 2022-23
    Milan Lucic to Calgary for a 6m cap hit until 2022-23

    It does very little for Oilers cap situation, but it gives both overpaid players a fresh start, and could stand to make the BoA a bit more interesting.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Here is some perspective.

    I was out of the country for some time – about 5 weeks. I’m back and this particular ON thread is no different than 4, 8, 52 weeks ago. All the same curmudgeons spouting the same old vitriol.

    Real questions: you can hire/fire/replace anyone in the Oilers organization and make any change. What (PRECISELY) do you do? What is your 5 year plan? Your plan for next season? How do you improve your fans’ in-game experience?

    Because all I have been reading is a bunch of 20/20 hindsight psuedo hockey minds complaining.
    Enlighten me.