You can say that the announcement Kelly McCrimmon being promoted to the position of general manager with the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday is not a negative reflection on the Edmonton Oilers. You’d be wrong.
This is not because the Oilers job was going to be a better job than being GM in Vegas and McCrimmon chose the lesser position to stay away from Edmonton. In fact, for McCrimmon, staying in Vegas makes a lot of sense. He started there, he had a big hand in building that team and a man of his integrity would probably want to see it through, working with the many people he brought in to work with him. The money is likely close to being the same and the team will likely be more successful.
Yes, there are many reasons McCrimmon would stay put.
That said, this news and the combination of what will likely come next in Edmonton makes this a hard pill to swallow.
The Oilers are once again on the outside looking in, going to have to go with what appears to be their second choice and the team will probably rush a decision like they’ve done so many times in the past. This is the Oilers way.
No Interview for McCrimmon
The Oilers had McCrimmon high on their list of GM candidates. By most reports, he was probably the leading candidate. But, the team didn’t even get to interview him because Vegas wasn’t interested in letting their man go.
I’m asking, had they interviewed McCrimmon, would it have mattered?
Earlier this week, Elliotte Friedman in his 31 thoughts report said that McCrimmon would want full autonomy, wherever he landed. It was then reported by TSN Insider Bob McKenzie that McCrimmon was out of the mix for the Oilers. There hasn’t been an official report as to which came first, the promotion for McCrimmon or the exit from the Oilers plans, but based on the past of this Oilers organization, it’s not hard to connect the dots.
The Oilers have a history of overstepping. While Bob Nicholson has publicly stated former GM Peter Chiarelli was in full control of every move the organization made under his watch, it’s a hard statement to believe. Look no further than the signing of Mikko Koskinen and how quickly Chiarelli was let go after that signing was announced. Look at the trade for Griffin Reinhart. Look at the eagerness to draft Nail Yakupov or the many other questionable moves that had the backing of people not named Chiarelli.
This is a franchise, that for years, has been laughed at because the former Oilers of the glory days can’t stay out of their own way. This is a team that has a President who admitted he didn’t even interview the prior GM. This is a team that rushes almost every decision it ever makes.
Why would McCrimmon sign himself up for such a punishment?
Calling Mark Hunter
Reports and rumors now suggest Mark Hunter will get the gig. After all, he’s the name most expect to be a disruption to the current way the organization operates. Sadly, that may be the main reason he gets hired.
It’s not that the Oilers don’t need to change their thinking. They do. And, I for one hope, if Hunter is hired, he’s the right guy and can turn things around for the Oilers. That said, disruption should not be the sole reason a GM from outside the Oilers Rolodex is hired.
Can the Oilers look past the frustrated fans, the threat of season-seat losses and franchise perception and still make the right decision? They’ve not been able to do so in the past.
As per reports, it might actually be a combination of Mark Hunter, Sean Burke, and Keith Gretzky who run things — shades of when the Oilers hired Tom Renney and Pat Quinn to pull double-duty as coaches. Maybe this works out, but if true, why go this route?
Is this more of an indication that the Oilers can’t decide who the right man is? That they’re hiring a committee and one who won’t have full control given to one person? It’s easy to put two and two together.
For McCrimmon, staying in Vegas made sense. Outside of the positives that come with such a decision, that he said no to the Oilers might have been Kelly’s best decision of the day.
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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