Pistol Pete might be back in the saddle sooner rather than later.
According to a note from Steve Simmons in a column in the Toronto Sun a few days ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would like to have Peter Chiarelli help steer the Arizona Coyotes out of the neverending swamp of mediocrity they’ve been trapped in for years.
For some reason, and we’re not sure why, commissioner Gary Bettman wants former Oilers and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli back working in the NHL. He’d like to place him with the historically dysfunctional Arizona Coyotes.
Last week, the Coyotes parted ways with CEO and President Ahron Cohen. The organization didn’t specify what the reasoning was, but, apparently, it was mutual. On the surface, it seems likely that this is a case of a new owner (the Coyotes were purchased by businessman Alex Meruelo under a year ago) coming in and re-shaping key parts of the organization.
There’s no doubt that the Coyotes have been in flux for years. Save for a run to the Western Conference Final in 2012, the Coyotes have never been able to build anything close to a contending team since moving from Winnipeg to the desert in 1996.
This year, the Coyotes appeared to be on the cusp of playoff contention and went all-in with the acquisition of Phil Kessel in the off-season and Taylor Hall ahead of the trade deadline, but it didn’t work. As of right now, the team sits 11th in the Western Conference and would only make the playoffs if the league decides to expand the field to 24 teams.
So, where does Chiarelli come in? Making hockey work in Arizona has always been a priority for Bettman and it seems as though he views Chiarelli as a potential studying influence who would bring a wealth of experience to the table.
This actually seems a lot like when Chiarelli joined the Oilers. Back in 2015 when Edmonton won the Golden Ticket at the draft lottery and the right to select Connor McDavid with the first-overall pick, Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe got pushed into other positions and Chiarelli, the grizzled veteran with Stanley Cup pedigree, was given the keys to the ship. And we all know how that went.
Chiarelli is currently serving as a consultant on Doug Armstrong’s staff with the St. Louis Blues and he’s made it known that he’d like another shot at running an NHL team after his disastrous time in Edmonton.
But if Chiarelli was to join the Coyotes, I’m not sure it would be in a hockey operations capacity. John Chayka, the wunderkind who was named general manager at the age of 27 back in 2016 (and was named president of hockey operations in 2017), was given a contract extension back in November. Though this season was a disaster for the Coyotes, pulling the plug on Chayka this quickly after giving him an extension would be bizarre.
Who knows what’ll happen. I mean, I would be thrilled if the Coyotes put Chiarelli in charge of their operation. I would love to be on the other side of one of Pistol Pete’s swaps for once. The Oilers ending up with Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a one-sided deal would be poetic.