In an announcement that came late Tuesday night, the Edmonton Oilers have fired general manager Peter Chiarelli. In a Twitter post from TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, it was reported and confirmed by TSN that the Oilers have released Chiarelli after a third consecutive loss, this time to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday evening.
Peter Chiarelli has been fired by the Oilers. Done deal
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) January 23, 2019
The firing brings an end to the question of whether or not the Oilers would let the recent trend of losing continue. In the face of another season out of the playoffs and after repeatedly questionable moves, the team sat with a 23-24-3 record after 50 games, are currently three points back of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference and see three teams in front of them.
Most categorize this move as the franchise finally pulling the bandaid off, letting Chiarelli go, and ushering in what the organization hopes will be a different voice leading the team back to a postseason run.
No replacement has been announced by the team, nor has an official statement from the organization been released but TSN is covering the story and there should be more news to follow as details are released.
Why Chiarelli Was Let Go
In Edmonton, the consensus that Chiarelli was on the way out was not a matter of “if”, but “when”. After joining the Oilers in April of 2015, he did what managers often do and began to imprint his mark on the team. With a mandate to improve the team’s lackluster defense, he traded Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and others in the hopes things would improve from the blueline forward. Unfortunately, Hall went on to become the NHL MVP for the New Jersey Devils two seasons later and the Oilers wound up with one playoff run and very little show for the lost assets in return.
The Oilers not only missed the playoffs the following season but took a nosedive toward the bottom of the standings. The team has now missed the playoffs in 12 of their last 13 seasons.
His reputation will be as a manager who signed Milan Lucic to an over-inflated, seven-year contract worth $6 million per season, lost one-for-one trades more often than he won them and most recently, extended goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a three-year extension worth $4.5 million per season and after only 27 NHL games to his credit.
While the drafting was considered improved under his watch and the AHL affiliate team stronger as a result, recent media and fans had been grading Chiarelli’s work as an “F” and clearly, the Oilers weren’t comfortable allowing him to navigate the team through their rough waters and the NHL Trade Deadline that is quickly approaching.
What’s Next for Edmonton?
With no replacement named, one can only assume someone like Keith Gretzky will take the interim role, with potential assistance from names like Craig MacTavish and/or Kevin Lowe. Bob Nicholson may get involved and Ken Hitchcock will certainly have some say in the direction of the team while the Oilers may choose to finish this season as a management team by committee.
Social media was abuzz in the early Wednesday morning hours and the city of Edmonton will surely be chatting all day about what’s next for a team that has little depth, bloated contracts and is now firmly outside the Western Conference playoff picture.
Will the Oilers try and find a new GM? Will they be sellers at the deadline? Are they making this move now with the idea that someone can turn this organization around in a matter of weeks? These are all questions that will have to be answered over the next 24-48 hours.
The question now is, has the damage been done? Many believe the traces of what Chiarelli has left behind could take years to repair.
Listen to a Snippet of Our Upcoming Podcast About Chiarelli
— NHL Trade Talk (@nhl_tradetalk) January 23, 2019
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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