It's starting to sound like the chickens may finally be coming home to roost.
The 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season has barely had any time to get under way but there are already some indications, strong indications in fact, that some of the NHL's most recognizable names may be on borrowed time. The Edmonton Oilers have only played two regular season games thus far but after a limited sample size there is now talk coming out of Edmonton that would suggest that both general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Todd McLellan may not keep their respective positions for much longer.
On Friday Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman was a guest on Sportsnet's 960 radio in Calgary when he was asked about some of the stories that are currently floating around the NHL. Friedman was quick to respond with an anecdote about the Edmonton Oilers and how there is suddenly tremendous pressure behind the scenes for those with decision making power in the organization.
“I honestly think guys - and they play tomorrow afternoon in New York - but I really do believe that one of the real tough places right now in the NHL is in Edmonton,” began Friedman as per Chris Nichols. “They’re 0-2. McDavid has looked great and done spectacular things in both games and they can’t sustain it.
“I just think the heat internally in that organization - I was just told this morning it’s a really tense place. I think everybody there is feeling it. I think that is clearly one of the - it’s going to be one of the hot areas in the league, and not in a good way. I think everybody there is really feeling the pressure.”
When you have Connor McDavid and you can't build a winning team behind him, some would argue the Oilers have done nothing but regress in form since acquiring McDavid, it's a damning condemnation of the state of your organization. For far too long fans in Edmonton have had to deal with failures at every level of the organization with seemingly no consequences for those making the decisions, but all that may finally be coming to a head. Friedman was asked about the future of McLellan specifically, there were rumors last season that MCLellan was already on the hot seat, but Friedman was quick to respond by suggesting that McLellan wasn't the only name he was hearing.
“I would just say this: I don’t there’s a person in that organization who feels secure,” noted Friedman. “Maybe Gretzky because, I mean, he’s Gretzky. But I don’t think there’s anybody in that organization who feels secure about what’s going on right now.
“So I wouldn’t say one guy, I would say it’s probably just about everybody.”
I personally have never believed in general manager Peter Chiarelli, I firmly believe he inherited the team that allowed him to capture a Stanley Cup ring with the Boston Bruins, and I have been amazed by his longevity as Oilers general manager. That isn't meant to be a defense of McLellan, although a head coach can only work with the tools that have been provided by the general manager. When you general manager trades away future Hart Trophy winners however it does become much more difficult to point the finger of blame at the coach and the coach alone.
An 0 - 2 start is not good news for the Oilers fan base, but it may be exactly what they need to get the changes that the fan base has so desperately wanted.