The Edmonton Oilers 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings was overshadowed by the club general manager Peter Chiarelli firing. Team CEO Bob Nicholson revealed on Wednesday during a press conference, that he informed Chiarelli he was being let go during the second intermission of the game, when the Wings were leading 2-0.
Nicholson is aware that a lot has to be done in Edmonton, and in the meantime, assistant GM Keith Gretzky, younger brother of Oilers vice chair Wayne Gretzky and Chiarelli’s cohort from the Boston Bruins, will assume part of Chiarelli’s duties on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is found.
“There’s something in the water here in Edmonton that we don’t have right,” Nicholson told reporters Wednesday.
While there will be interesting candidates to fill in for Chiarelli, the challenge will be monumental. However, that does not mean that the panic button will be pushed - enough of panic has taken over in Edmonton. Nicholson made it clear during the presser that the Oilers will not be shopping their first round pick for a quick fix. The CEO believes the Oilers just need to be more consistent to compete, and that the team won’t give up any other assets unless the return is great. He also denied the team was entering a rebuilding phase.
“I will tell you clearly: you look at the way this team played at times this year, we just have to get them consistent and playing that way. We know we have to bring in some other pieces.
“We will look to bolster the offense and the defense, but again we’re not trading away our first pick, when you look at some of our other top prospects, we are not giving them away unless it’s some real good pieces back.”
On track to miss the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons, a drastic change is needed in Edmonton. It seems like almost every bet Chiarelli made – starting with his first transaction with the Oilers in which he acquired Griffin Reinhart – turned out to be the wrong one.
It remains to be seen what plan will come to fruition closer to the trade deadline and moving forward. And if the team can get one RIGHT trade going. For now, Nicholson stresses that playoffs is still the primary goal.