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Put the Shovel Down

Some excellent advice from noted life expert Pinball Clemons

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So, as I basically say in all my posts now here at CnB, which are ever fewer and farther between, I don’t write that much these days. When I do, it’s because I’ve got something I feel I need to say. Such is the place we find ourselves in today, so here I am.

I’ve got a bunch of potential posts bubbling under the surface, including some that our fearless leader here Jeff Chapman has been begging me to write because he knows it will upset just about everyone.

But what’s brought me to the point where I need to write this today?

  • Is it the re-igniting of the media/blogger battle?
  • The comments from Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall on the Edmonton media?
  • The poor performance of the Oilers on the ice and the potential for a wasted season?

These or any number of other hawt taeks circling around the interweb and social media would be perfectly reasonable catalysts to draw me back here, but no, the piece that has forced me back is a recent offering from none-other than noted internet hooligan Lowetide.

Those of you who have been around long enough will know the immense esteem with which I hold Mr. Mitchell. He’s never shown himself to be anything other than a good and decent human being in all of his interactions with me.

In the story linked to above, Lowetide includes the following within the context of cautioning against reactionary moves for those upset about the current lot in which the Oilers find themselves:

The hammer of rage is raining down on Peter Chiarelli currently, but let’s remember the massive number of holes he needed to fill upon arrival. Regier’s words ring so true to me. A new general manager brought in today would form the team in his own image and that probably takes at least a year, maybe 18 months. A new coach might jump start this season, but Todd McLellan didn’t take a dose of stupid overnight. I know you’re looking for someone to blame but the idea of another reset makes me want to vomit. Seriously.

To say that I take umbrage with this opinion is an understatement. I take loads of umbrage.

For starters, I don’t think a new GM needs 18 months to re-make a team in their own image. Any GM worth their salt should be able to find ways to optimize the team they have WHILE they search for opportunities to further the advancement of the team using their preferred strategy. It does not, or at least should not require a 12-18 month set-back.

I could add a thousand more words here (as I am known to do) on why I disagree with LT’s admittedly reasoned and rational stance here but as I noted on twitter recently:

The article I am jealous of Dom writing was done for The Athletic (subscription required but recommended). It detailed just how much of a skill drain has taken place within the Oilers organization during the Chiarelli era. He does it better than I could ever hope to, so go read his article.

To connect how does Dom’s article relates to my disagreement with Lowetide’s piece, I need to share with you some good advice I once received from an odd place. I was once privileged enough to attend a conference that included a speaking engagement from former CFL great Michael “Pinball” Clemons. He was an engaging speaker and I remember being impressed at the time, but I’d be lying if I said I could tell you most of what he shared that day...except for one thing that has stayed with me for years since then.

“As soon as you realize you’re digging your own grave, put the shovel down.”

That sums up my stance on why having patience with Peter Chiarelli is a bad idea better than anything else I could say. The Oilers brought in Chiarelli hoping to take them to where they needed to go once they were blessed with the second-greatest gift in franchise history...Connor McDavid. Some good things have happened. Talbot’s acquisition, Sekera, Maroon...Klefbom’s contract, finding guys like Caggiula and Benning. But the bad has begun to far outweigh the good in both quantity and more importantly...magnitude.

I’ll call it an opinion because I guess it’s disputable (though I don’t know how) but Peter Chiarelli has lost every single trade as Oiler GM that involved significant assets being moved out of Edmonton. He does not appear capable of getting full value in return for impactful players. This trend also extends to his days in Boston (see: Seguin, Tyler and Wheeler, Blake)

Given that the Oilers are faced with the potential scenario of making more changes as their season slips away, including rumours of offers for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and a potential need to part with a defenceman if they intend to sign Darnell Nurse long-term, there appear to be myriad opportunities ahead for the franchise to be further set-back by a General Manager who isn’t up to the challenge he is faced with.

The Oilers would be well-served by heeding the words I shared with you above...when it comes to allowing Peter Chiarelli to retain the ability to make trades involving players of high value:

You’re digging your own grave. Put the shovel down.

...before it’s too late.