Chiarelli Suggests He’s a Victim of Early Oilers Success

Former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli sat down for an interview with Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun and talked about his new job in St. Louis, his time in Edmonton with the Oilers, what went wrong and what he’s learned.

Chiarelli hasn’t spoken out his termination from the Oilers in over 14 months. With that in mind, I’m not sure what he said when he finally did speak will put Oilers fans at ease.

Chiarelli On His Time in Edmonton

When talking about his new gig compared to his old one, Chiarelli claimed he’s learned a lot. Being able to look at things from the outside, he’s got a new perspective on what might have gone wrong.

General manager Peter Chiarelli
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 23: General manager Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers speaks onstage during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Chiarelli said:

“I’m exposed to a different way of doing things and secondly you’re not driving the bus so it gives you a way to expand the breadth of your hockey curve. Then, you can look back, at what I did in Edmonton, and when you come out of the job and you’re fired, especially in a Canadian market, it’s a difficult exercise as I’ve found out. I really wasn’t exposed to that in Boston.

source – ‘GARRIOCH: Former Oilers’ exec Peter Chiarelli refreshed after taking a step back’ – Bruce Garrioch – Ottawa Sun – 03/11/2020

Chiarelli noted the bad press that has come his way after being let go from the Oilers. He’s right. The fan base there widely regards him as one of the worst GM’s to ever come through the system.

This is a GM who had a history of trading star players and key pieces out of the Bruins organization, then came to Edmonton and sent Taylor Hall out the door, among others. “There’s a negative narrative out there and you can’t really rebut on why you did things,” he said. He added, “The break has given me time to reflect on what I did in Edmonton: The good things, the bad things and the things I would do differently.”

Chiarelli’s Six-Year Plan

Among the things he said he’d have changed was deviating from his original plan. Apparently, he was hired, in part, because of a six-year plan he put together to help the Oilers win a Stanley Cup. Chiarelli says that after the team did so well, and so quickly, he strayed from that plan and tried to speed up the process of getting better quickly.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Chiarelli explained:

“You go in with a longer look and in this day and age it’s easy to stray from that longer look especially when you make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years and you win a round… I knew it was coming and I should have been more forceful in my position on where we were in the plan but it’s hard because you’ve got paying customers, an owner and people around you that feel you should take the next step.

Essentially, Chiarelli is blaming the owner, the fans and everyone else for being impatient. He’s suggesting that he wanted to do one thing, but the pressure to speed up the winning process was too strong and forced him to do things outside of his plan.


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What About the Taylor Hall Trade?

To make matters worse, Chiarelli really stuck his foot in it with comments about the Hall deal, contradicting earlier comments he made when the trade was completed.

Taylor Hall
Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall (4) during the NHL game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena.

At that time, he said, “That’s the price you pay”, defending his stance to land defenseman Adam Larsson. This time around, he said, “[Hall for Larsson] was a difficult one because we felt we wanted to give breathing room to Connor McDavid and with where the salaries would go that’s a long look.”

His response to the trade suggested that he didn’t search the NHL for multiple offers to see what other GM’s would give and that everyone was offering similar returns. No, in fact, he said, “I had one offer.” He added, “In hindsight I should have waited but the development of Connor was very important and we felt that we had to clear some room for him — both salary room and room in the (dressing) room.”

So, he took the only offer he got to make room for McDavid’s future salary, then he went out and overpaid Milan Lucic? Oh, and did he just say that the dressing room wasn’t large enough for both McDavid and Hall? Is that because of Hall? Or, is that because of McDavid?

Chiarelli Didn’t Do Himself Any Favors Here

In talking about his time in Edmonton, it’s not clear what Chiarelli was trying to accomplish. One would have to assume he wanted to explain some of his decisions, perhaps taking the heat off himself.

Unfortunately, he probably should have waited another 14 months before trying to talk about a lesson he clearly hasn’t learned.

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