The clamor around the Edmonton Oilers has largely died down likely due both in part to the fact that acceptance of another wasted season with superstar forward Connor McDavid has settled in as well as due to the fact that just about everyone has already been fired. It was former general manager Peter Chiarelli who kicked off the firings when he relieved head coach Todd McLellan of his duties, although many at the time felt Chiarelli deserved the bulk of the blame for the Oilers failures. Chiarelli himself would quickly follow McLellan out the door eventually being fired himself for what can only be described as his gross incompetence in the GM chair.
The reality however is that the Oilers have been a poorly run team for the better part of two decades now and there has been a sense among the fan base that the "Old Boys Club" (OBC) who run the day to day operations of the Oilers have run the team into the ground and will continue to do so unless much more drastic changes are made. Unfortunately for fans in Edmonton though it is starting to look like there may be more of the same coming down the pipeline, although fortunately not everyone is in agreement.
As fans in Edmonton will already know the team is currently being operated with Keith Gretzky as the interim general manager following the firing of Chiarelli from his position. Gretzky is of course best known for being the brother of National Hockey League legend Wayne Gretzky and as you would expect accusations of nepotism have quickly followed behind. What makes this even more of a concern however is that Keith is reportedly now being seriously considered for the permanent gig as Oilers general manager thanks in part to the stellar if unimpressive job he has done since taking over for Chiarelli.
Some have fully supported this change in direction including veteran Oilers reporter Jim Matheson who had this to say:
To my followers: Keith Gretzky is not part of the Old Boys Club. He has the Gretzky name but he came from Boston Bruins in 2016. He's worked his way up for close to 20 years, first as a scout. So quit with the remarks of the same old, same old from unhappy Oiler fans.
That's all well and good of course but many have been quick to point out that at every rung of the ladder that Keith has climbed disaster has followed closely behind. Former Coyotes beat writer Aaron Wood, who is now employed directly by the league, replied directly to Matheson's comments while he recalled Keith's time in Arizona, where he got his start at the NHL level, and his comments were not flattering to say the least.
"No but he was part of the inept front office that drove the Phoenix Coyotes into the ground," wrote Wood. "Many of the trades were of the ‘trading a cow for magic beans’ variety. No one that was part of the Coyotes then deserve to be GM now."
That is a concern but it's just one stop on Gretzky's resume right? Well when he became the head of amateur scouting for the Boston Bruins it led to one of the biggest draft failures in recent memory. Jonathan Willis of The Athletic Edmonton was quick to point this out, although he did add that it was unclear whether or not Gretzky had final say on that infamous day in 2015.
Boston's infamous 2015 first-round is an early question in any Gretzky job interview. I'm not at all sure he had autonomy on those selections, but you'd want to find out for sure.
TSN's Dustin Nilson also made reference to his infamous failure at the 2015 draft:
Keith Gretzky has done a decent job building a pipeline here in Edmonton but he still passed on Matt Barzal .......three times. I’d pump the brakes a little.
What's more is that Gretzky is by all accounts a Chiarelli guy at this stage. Chiarelli was general manager in Boston during Gretzky's time there and it was Chiarelli who also brought Gretzky in to Edmonton. Gretzky was in the room when Chiarelli and his staff made the infamous decision to trade Tyler Seguin and presumably he was around to advise Chiarelli for all of the terrible trades and signings he made during his time as the general manager of the Oilers.
I have no ill will towards Keith Gretzky, but to suggest that there are not some very major red flags in his history would be a dishonest statement at best. The fact that he could become the next general manager of the Oilers on a moire permanent basis has to be a scary thought for fans in Edmonton.
Update: Jonathan Willis just shared another interesting tidbit., first citing a quote form a source:
"I am made to understand that zero appetite exists in the Edmonton organization for past Canucks GM Mike Gillis."
Willis clearly feels this is another damning condemnation of the Oilers management group:
I believe this is likely, but if it is correct that speaks to problems within the organization more than problems with Gillis as a candidate. If you're Bob Nicholson and not looking at the most successful GM in Vancouver history, a guy with a unique understanding of - and solutions to address - the difficulties or running a team with Western Canadian travel and market, that's on you.
Gillis has a career .626 points percentage as a GM. People should compare that to the guy who came before (Nonis, reportedly a candidate) and after (Benning, part of that famous BOS management group).
Not looking good in Edmonton right now.