The Edmonton Oilers need a new general manager. Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson is conducting interviews and reportedly onto the second portion of his general manager search. This might be the most important hire in recent Oilers history. Nicholson needs to nail this hire. His first pick, Peter Chiarelli, was as close to an outright disaster as you can get.
The new GM will have significantly fewer assets at his disposal coming into the organization than Chiarelli. Hiring the right person is crucial.
Where do the best GMs come from? Who are the best GMs? Do the Oilers have to go outside the organization and should they have previous NHL GM experience?
|Internal Hires||External AGM||External Former GM|
|Doug Wilson (SJS)||Kevin Cheveldayoff (WPG)||David Poile (NSH)|
|Bob Murray (ANA)||Marc Bergevin (MTL)||Dale Tallon (FLO)|
|Jeff Gorton (NYR)||Jarmo Kekalainen (CBJ)||Doug Armstrong (STL)|
|Stan Bowman (CHI)||Jim Nill (DAL)||Jim Rutherford (PIT)|
|Joe Sakic (COL)||Brad Treliving (CGY)||George McPhee (VGK)|
|Brian MacLellan (WSH)||Jim Benning (VAN)||Ray Shero (NJD)|
|Don Sweeney (BOS)||Jason Botterill (BUF)||Lou Lamoriello (NYI)|
|Pierre Dorion (OTT)||Paul Fenton (MIN)||Chuck Fletcher (PHI)|
|John Chayka (ARI)||Steve Yzerman (DET)|
|Rob Blake (LAK)|
|Kyle Dubas (TOR)|
|Don Waddell (CAR)|
|Julien BriseBois (TBL)|
There are 13 GMs who were already part of their organization before assuming the GM role.
It’s a little surprising to see so many good-to-great teams promoting from within, but it makes sense: good teams sometimes transition leadership, while bad teams don’t promote the guys that brought them there.
Keith Gretzky’s candidacy for the position is even puzzling. Only Arizona and Carolina were unsuccessful teams that hired internally. The position in Carolina wasn’t in demand with a unique owner stepping in. They settled for an internal guy who had previous NHL GM experience in Don Waddell. Arizona promoted John Chayka a year after hiring him on as assistant GM. Chayka was still fairly new to the organization.
Mostly it’s good teams transitioning or successful teams that have taken a step back. The team’s points percentage in the two years prior to the internal promotion confirms this.
|Internal GM||P% Prior 2 Seasons|
|Don Sweeney (BOS)||0.649|
|Bob Murray (ANA)||0.646|
|Jeff Gorton (NYR)||0.637|
|Julien BriseBois (TBL)||0.631|
|Kyle Dubas (TOR)||0.610|
|Stan Bowman (CHI)||0.585|
|Joe Sakic (COL)||0.581|
|Rob Blake (LAK)||0.573|
|Brian MacLellan (WSH)||0.565|
|Pierre Dorion (OTT)||0.561|
|Doug Wilson (SJS)||0.524|
|Don Waddell (CAR)||0.518|
|Keith Gretzky (EDM)||0.479|
|John Chayka (ARI)||0.476|
Anaheim, New York, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Chicago, Colorado, and Ottawa changed leadership during successful times or when the current general manager left for various reasons. Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington were coming off of less successful seasons than they previously had.
I’ve included Gretzky because he stands out in comparison. Gretzky doesn’t have the team success, was a Chiarelli guy, and unfairly or not, has a name connection to past Oilers greats, which would make his hiring fairly strange.
Almost half of the GMs were internal hires, which is more than I anticipated. Only eight GMs were assistants plucked from different organizations. Of those, 11 GMs were former NHL GMs, Murray and Waddell qualify as both internal hires and former GMs.
The former GM list is particularly strong, but that’s likely because the best GMs stay employed and bad GMs don’t get many second or third chances.
Oilers fans know Chiarelli was a former GM and how well that went.
Jim Rutherford is only the second GM to win Stanley Cups with two different teams.
All avenues have strong and poor GMs. The internal list includes some quality teams, but it’s much easier to run a team when they’re already in a good position.
I lean towards hiring an external GM, either an assistant who hasn’t been a GM before or a previous NHL GM. It’s clear whatever management structure in Edmonton hasn’t worked. They’ve valued the wrong things and promoting an internal candidate like Gretzky sends the wrong message. Yes, Chiarelli was an outside hire, but much of the staff that contributed to the Decade of Darkness remained.
The Oilers need an outside voice, and one that isn’t afraid to make sweeping changes. The status quo has failed. Rumoured candidates include former Maple Leafs AGM Mark Hunter, Tampa Bay AGM Pat Verbeek, Vegas AGM Kelly McCrimmon, and Pittsburgh AGM Bill Guerin. Whoever Nicholson hires needs to change how the Oilers operate and remove the voices of the past. Hire externally.