Hunter vs McCrimmon

Bob Nicholson has reportedly been interviewing candidates over the last couple of weeks and has even gone back for second interviews with a few candidates. Despite the talk that he has been busy, the only two outside names who we have heard connected to the vacant GM position are Mark Hunter and Kelly McCrimmon. Those are the two names we’ve been hearing and I think it’s fair to say that those two are currently the front runners for the job.

But which one would be the better hire for the Edmonton Oilers?

It’s an interesting debate because while each one has some similarities in their hockey experience, they both come with unique resumes.

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Mark Hunter’s professional playing career lasted just over a decade and ended after the 1992-93 season when he played seven games for the Washington Capitals and a handful of games in the AHL. He almost immediately jumped behind the bench, becoming the Head Coach of the Sarnia Sting during the 1994-95 season.

After five years of coaching in the OHL and one year in the AHL, Hunter and his brother Dale become co-owners of the London Knights. Mark also became the VP of Hockey Operations and General Manager. He held that role for 15 seasons before jumping to the NHL and joining the Toronto Maple Leafs as a director of player personnel. He held that position for two seasons before being upgraded to Assistant General Manager, a position that he also held for two years.

Hunter has four years of experience in an NHL front office. I value the years as AGM a little bit more than being Director of Player Personnel, but the first two were no doubt important. He comes with a reputation of being a great amateur talent evaluator and his success with London backs that up.

For McCrimmon, his playing career never reached the professional level. His final four seasons of hockey were spent with the University of Michigan, he served as their captain in his final season. After his playing career ended in 1984, he jumped right into management, becoming the GM and Head Coach of the North Battleford North Stars of the SJHL. He spent two seasons there and one more with Lloydminster (SJHL) before jumping to the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

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After one season as an Assistant Coach, McCrimmon became the Head Coach and GM in the 1989-90 season. He would continue in his role as GM for the next 24 seasons (he would spend ten of those seasons as the team’s Head Coach as well). In 1992, he became a minority owner of the Wheat Kings and became the sole owner in 2000.

His jump to the NHL came on August 2nd, 2016, when he was hired by the Vegas Golden Knights to be their Assistant General Manager. That’s a role he still currently holds. As I said, his experience is very similar to that of Mark Hunter in terms of years spent at different levels. The difference comes in how they spent their seasons in the NHL. That’s what makes one a better candidate than the other in my opinion.


I’ll start by saying that both of these candidates are really solid and I would be more than happy with either of them taking over the GM duties in Edmonton. I also don’t know anything about the interview process. Like it or not, how Bob Nicholson judges these two candidates after their interviews will go a long way in determining which way the Oilers will go. That’s what makes it really tough to speculate. At the end of the day, we really won’t be able to judge the candidate the Oilers choose until we see some tangible results.

Mark Hunter may come into the interviews very well prepared, with pages upon pages of great ideas on how he will make the Edmonton Oilers a Cup contender. He might not. The same could be said for McCrimmon. We simply do not know how either of these candidates will handle their interviews and that will have an impact.

Based on the fact that Mark Hunter has gone through two interviews with the Oilers, we can safely assume that he is very interested in the job. I would assume that McCrimmon is, but with Seattle looming, we don’t know that for sure. That could play a role in the Oilers decision.

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With all of that being said, I believe that Kelly McCrimmon is a better candidate just based off of what his experience at the NHL level entailed.

His first year with the Golden Knights, they didn’t have a team. He would have spent the entire season pro-scouting other teams around the NHL and studying their rosters. While Hunter no doubt would have handled some pro-scouting, he’s mainly known for being a strong evaluator of amateur talent. Based on things I read and how their roles have been described (that’s really all I have since I’m not in the boardrooms for these NHL teams) I think it’s fair to assume that McCrimmon’s experience was more closely tied to studying NHL rosters. To create a successful expansion draft roster, he would have been a part of making a decision on the roster of all 30 NHL teams.

That is why I think the Oilers need to go all in with their pursuit of McCrimmon. They need to find a way to surround Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl with a better roster. They need quality support players and Kelly McCrimmon proved that he’s capable of identifying high-end support players who may be overlooked and undervalued by their current organizations.

  • rivid

    I may be in the minority with this but l wouldn’t hire either one. My first choice would be Pat Verbeek. He is an up and comer, has come up through the ranks and has worked with the best in the business. There is a reason why Toronto passed on hunter and Mccrimmon lacks in the areas Verbeek stands out.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      The problem with an “Up & Comer” with the Oilers is the OBC… Anyone that is perceived as “learning the ropes, will be heavily interfered with by the OBC I’m afraid… Ol’ 6 rings will have to show him a thing or two. That would be the worst situation… The best situation with either of these guys is the length of service in the role… McCrimmon or Hunter would just be able to tell them to “go away”…
      McCrimmon has 24 seasons of losing his top players to the NHL (Google them all, it’s quite impressive over the years) & still was able to put together a contender. That experience could easily look at 6 Rings & the boys & just laugh if they interfered.
      Verbeek or Guerin, or whoever else, would definitely be interfered with… Either one is good with me, but I’m leaning toward McCrimmon as well…

  • Sean17

    If McCrimmon was coaching in 21992, then hopefully he has come back with a copy of Grays Sports Almanac like Biff and already knows the winners! We can’t lose! 👍😀

    • RyanCoke

      Might be a tad bit far in the future. Dont think any of that history will be brought back in paper form. If its that far in the future he might be able to just have it all implanted in his brain as long as it doesnt get its information from a centralized server.

      • jesse says yep

        But being from the future he would also know that any chip in his brain would get picked up by security at the airport and would have a bunch of explaining to do. He chooses to go retro with a spiral duotang and mechanical pencil. Must have cost him a fortune at the antiques store

  • elliotsmom

    I think either one of these gentlemen would be a good with the organization, especially since there are no ties to the boys upstairs. However, I would probably go with Pat Verbeek. He has been so well groomed by Steve Yzerman, it would definitely be an advantage the other 2 don’t have.

    • Rick Stroppel

      Oilers want to hire someone who fits the “culture” of having the worst team in the NHL in the last ten years, endless bragging (“I know a little bit about winning”), stupid comments about your own players (“if you have to ask the question”). The Oilers culture of very senior people never saying anything about the team in public because they are guaranteed to say something foolish (Katz, McTavish, Wayne Gretzky). The Oilers culture of bad draft picks, bad development, stupid trades made impulsively (Reinhart, Hall, Eberle, Strome, etc.) stupid contracts (Lucic, Koskinen, Manning)? The Oilers culture of Nicholson, the team’s one and only real spokesman, only opening his mouth long enough to change feet? Yup…the Oilers better make sure the new hire DOES NOT FIT the Oilers culture, and sets to work changing it ASAP.

      • Rick Stroppel

        My mistake, sorry! Manning’s contract was already done when he was traded for, so take him out of the “stupid contract” category and put him in the “stupid trade” category.

      • camdog

        When Nicholson is talking business it feels like he’s talking about things he knows. When he talks Hockey one sentence will sound like something Lowe would say the next something Mactavish would say. The over ripe comment is from Ken Holland. He never comes up with original content in respect to hockey operations, he just doesn’t know.

      • Eberle was run out of town. Rumour has it that Todd McLellan had something to do with it. He didn’t like Eberle and didn’t have nice things to say after the Oilers got eliminated by Anaheim in the playoffs that year.

  • HelpMeBabyJesus

    At present and with a clearly superficial approach admitted, I would select Hunter. I believe he has the chops to select the right talent and develop them properly. Additionally I think he will have the confidence and personality to tell anyone who interferes to piss off. If you are looking for a reason Dubas was selected over him in Toronto, I would surmise that Shanahan may have perferred the more analytical Dubas as a compliment to his own hard charging personality because he and Hunter were too similar in style? Just my thought.

  • Vanoil

    Sure would be nice to hire BOTH (and keep Kretz on the pay-roll as well) … and the way the tea leaves are drying in Toronto, it looks like Babcock may also be soon available …. Hmmmmmm.

      • Hand Banana

        Totally agree; Dubas has definitely made some questionable decisions. Regardless, I still find it concerning that the Leafs were willing to let Hunter walk.

        • camdog

          Back in the day when we drafted Yak, the common thread was we didn’t need a winger at the time. The theory was you could build the skill up and trade it for pieces that helped the team win later. This off season we’ll see if Dubas is any good or a dud. Moves need to be made, we’ll soon see if he can make them.

          • Dapper Dan 3099

            Who are these great players on fair deals? Nylander 27 pts @ close to 7 mil cap, Marleau had 37 pts, the one and only Matthews (who apparently is as good as mcdavid) has 73 pts and just got north of 11 mil going forward?

    • braddos

      Nothing to do with the NDP, everything to do with the team history. Good enough for Jacques Plante good enough for anyone. We don’t need to look like what feels like 2/3s of the league

  • Oiler Al

    If they are keeping Keith, then McCrinnon is the bet, as he had the experience with pro scouting the league etc, and Keith seems decent with the amateur scouting.I don’t think the Gretsky name should stand in the way.
    Having said this, McCrimmom would be a great fit for Seattles needs with their building of a new team and his past experience.Not sure where either stand on analytics?Its tough building a winner…. look at the teams bounced in the first round.! Bounce and luck are a big part of the win,but hard work always wins.

  • That's My Point

    Hire anyone as long as who they hire doesn’t draft any SMURF’s in the FIRST ROUND AGAIN!!
    We’ve seen how small players can’t do squat in the playoffs, like Johnny “Smalls” in Calgary.

  • FanBoy

    important thing to consider with both candidates are while they’re both excellent at identifying amateur talent, what are they like when it comes to trades and signings?

    McCrimmon identified good talent on NHL rosters and picked them. Didn’t have the difficulty of trading for them. Hunter has no experience in that.

    Not sure if both are in any capacity with FA signings

    • Glencontrolurstik

      24 Years as a WHL GM, Coach & Owner… That’s experience enough for me. These teams lose their top prospects every year. Both London & Brandon seem to compete year after year. Trades happen in the CHL as well… I’d go on the record to even say that because you lose your top guys to the NHL each year, you have to be even more shrewd in your player management as you wouldn’t get a break. Player management & development is a constant as a GM in the CHL. In the NHL, there are breaks when you can put that on the burner…