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Oilers Still Rotten From The Top Down

April 14, 2018, 12:43 AM ET [479 Comments]
Matt Henderson
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Edmonton Oiler organization took the time this week to confirm what we all knew deep inside: They don’t know what they’re doing and the organizational rot is coming from the head down.

The Oiler season didn’t die a week ago when the year ended. It died in June 2017 when the Oilers committed to a plan of abandoning Eberle for Strome, signing Russell long term, and refusing to address the Sekera injury at all. It died when Chiarelli opted to pocket millions of cap dollars while McDavid was in the final year of his entry level contract. It died an unnecessary death that was brought on by sheer incompetence.

And the Oilers announced that they are happy with the source of that incompetence returning to run the club again.

Bob Nicholson held a press conference on Thursday to confirm that President of Hockey Operations, General Manager, and man who traded Hall for Larsson – Peter Chiarelli – would return to his same duties next season. Nicholson cited Chiarelli’s behind-the-scenes efforts to fix the scouting staff (the same one that approved Hall for Larsson and Eberle for Strome) as one of the main reasons he supports the beleaguered GM. The other reason was Chiarelli’s “Plan”.

What’s obvious, though, is that Chiarelli’s plan and execution have been terrible since joining the Oilers and if not for half of his club having career years offensively WHILE ALSO staying unprecedentedly healthy then the Oil wouldn’t have been near a playoff spot last year either. It cannot be understated how disconcerting it is – and ought to be – to hear the man whose job is to oversee Chiarelli give his full and unqualified support to a general manager that has actively hurt the club three seasons in a row.

The reality is that Bob Nicholson is an empty presence. He has very little hockey knowledge and has spent his entire career stealing the accolades from actual coaches and general managers who put together and operated Canadian National teams. He took the job in Edmonton with the expectation that he would get to do more of the same. The Oilers had done the difficult work building a stable of first overall picks and were on the verge of completing the construction of a new building that Nicholson had nothing to do with negotiating. It was supposed to be a gravy job.

Darryl Katz was an easy mark. The billionaire who just wanted to spend time with is famous friends from the 80’s was always going to be impressed by the accomplishments of others that Nicholson could pass off as his own. Before you knew it, Nicholson’s job was set. All he had to do was name a mediocre double cheeseburger with barbecue sauce after himself, charging $20 for the privilege of consuming it, and count down the days to his retirement.

Since Peter Chiarelli was his only real hire in a hockey ops position, this charade can really only continue if Chiarelli succeeds. It’s the only reason why he would take 15 minutes less than a week after a lost season to declare that Chiarelli was still the guy but EVERYBODY ELSE was under review…and that review would be done by Chiarelli. Nicholson has no intention of fixing or overseeing the franchise. There’s no stewardship. There’s no responsibility. It’s just a long grift to rob Katz of a little more scratch before he can go away and be remembered as a great hockey man.

The Oilers are rotten from the top down. And it gets worse. Mark Spector suggests that there is a war for control of the club happening between Chiarelli and the Boys on the Bus who have been integral to reliving Katz’ fantasies. On one side you have Chiarelli’s raging incompetence pulling the Oilers into a ditch. On the other you have largely unqualified wanna-be coaches and Oiler lifers who feel entitled to jobs they’ve never performed (well). It’s a Lose-Lose for the fans who just want Connor McDavid to win a Cup or two (or five) in Oiler Orange.

The current upper leadership core of this club has declared that they will do nothing to prevent further destruction of the roster. Edmonton, for now, seems committed to a man who cannot negotiate contracts, make trades, or manage his cap well. They are committed to a man who has badly lost his signature trades in each year of his tenure here and has shown no ability to retain quality players in his career as an NHL GM.

Only Darryl Katz can fix what’s actually wrong with this team. He’s the only one capable of cleansing the rot from the franchise. Does he have the courage to lead this team? Is that something he even wants to do? He may actually have to start treating the Oilers like a real business soon. I think it’s in him. I believe he can do it. We’ll only know after the grifters, idiots, and false idols are gone.

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