If you could put yourself in Bob Nicholson’s shoes and conduct the interviews to find a new GM for the Edmonton Oilers, what would be the three most important questions you’d ask to determine the right guy for the job?
Rob Tychkowski of Post Media asked a bunch of them in a piece he wrote today, and Nicholson would do well to cut and paste all of them before he walks into his next interview, be it with Kelly McCrimmon or Mark Hunter or whoever else you’d like to name. It’s definitely worth a read, and Tychkowski’s questions no doubt mirror what a lot of fans want to know.
While I’d hit any and all candidates hoping to replace Peter Chiarelli with the whole works, three of the questions Tychkowski posed stand out for me. Your mileage, as the saying goes, may vary, but give it a read.
What is your plan for in goal?
When Chiarelli signed Mikko Koskinen to a three-year deal worth $4.5 million a season, he already had one foot out the door. I don’t recall anybody who could make sense of the timing of the signing. What was the rush to get the ink done?
By the end of the season, with Koskinen up and down and all over the place before finishing with a .906 save-percentage and a 2.93 goals-against average, timing wasn’t the only question. Might Koskinen settle in as a legit (and higher-end) starter? Sure. What if he doesn’t? Who comes in now to form a tandem with Koskinen? At what price?
What will you do with Milan Lucic?
Save for his first season here, when he had 23-27-50, Lucic and his $6 million annual cap hit has been an absolute millstone around the necks of the Oilers. Bad enough Chiarelli sent the Oilers the wrong way by shipping out skill in Taylor Hall and replacing it with size and toughness in Lucic in a league getting faster instead of bigger, No. 27 hasn’t produced, to understate.
As for providing character and leadership, the supposed consolation prize when talking about Lucic, what’s that look like? How’s that working out? What character and leadership, exactly, is Lucic providing? So, what does the new GM do to get out from under what many people consider a buy-out proof contract? Trade and retain salary? Keep him? Show me a plan.
What is an acceptable chain of command between you and the owner?
There’s the $64-question. If a new GM comes in expecting anything less than complete control over decisions at every level of hockey operations, it isn’t going to work. That much we know. Complete control doesn’t mean the new GM can’t take advice from those he trusts, it just means he has the final say without interference or second-guessing – right up to the owner’s suite.
That has to include having the ability to hire and fire personnel, including coaches, scouts and assistant GM’s without getting a written note from Nicholson or Daryl Katz. Demanding that kind of latitude with a team that’s missed the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons shouldn’t eliminate a candidate from contention, it should push him to the front of the line. If it doesn’t, nothing is going to change.
WHILE I’M AT IT
I know Rod Pedersen’s declaration that Ken Holland would be the next GM of the Oilers on Twitter last week has been pretty much dismissed by media covering the team since then, but why do I get the sense Holland might somehow still be an option hovering in the background?
Has anybody credible come right out and said, “No, it’s not going to happen, there’s no chance?” The Oilers haven’t, not that I’d expect them to say anything at this point. I’ve heard a lot of people say nothing has been decided or that Holland isn’t in the running right now, but does that mean he might not be an option? What if McCrimmon or fill-in-name-here says, “No thanks” to Nicholson?
I know the majority of fans around here have given Holland a thumbs-down to be the new GM – I understand the sentiment behind the cynicism — but they don’t get a vote in what happens next and neither do I. That falls to Nicholson and Katz. I’ve got a funny feeling about this.
HOCKEY HELPS THE HOMELESS
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.