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Can Bob Nicholson Hire The Right GM?

He’s committed to making it work, and that’s good. There’s no margin for error in the next hire.

Team Canada Announces the 2010 Olympic Men’s Hockey Coaching Staff
Gonna get it right this time.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It was my decision to hire Peter Chiarelli with Todd McLellan and I had thefoot to get Connor.


That’s Edmonton Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson on hiring Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan in 2015. Neither are currently employed by the team.

Bob Nicholson would like to have you believe that he’s going to hire the right person to be the next General Manager of the Oilers. I’ve got a nagging doubt that he’s going to.

Peter Chiarelli was dismissed last week during the second intermission of Edmonton’s 3-2 home loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Bob Nicholson held a media availability in Edmonton to discuss Peter Chiarelli’s time in Edmonton, as well as what to expect in the upcoming search for a new GM.

Like fans, it’s clear that Bob Nicholson is disappointed with the way things have turned recently. The Oilers sit three points out of a playoff spot at the time of this sentence. They’ve got the greatest player in the world playing in his fourth professional season, and they’re on the fence when it comes to simply making the playoffs at all. It’s fairly hard to believe that the club is in the shape it’s in right now, especially after the way the forwards were taking shape in 2015.

As much fun as we’re not having revisiting the recent past, the club’s got to play the cards that they’ve currently got. There are a handful of anchor contracts on this club (Lucic, Russell). There’s not enough talent on the wings. Oscar Klefbom comes back soon (thankfully), but the defence is in disarray without him. The next GM is going to have quite a lot on their plate.


As much as Bob Nicholson wants to see the club succeed (we’re all here for the same reason), I’m not sure he’s able to see just how far down the well the Oilers are right now. Nicholson mentioned several times in his presser last week about “character” among his players. I wrote last week that character is an important part of a successful locker room, but “character” shouldn’t be the top worry in the locker room.

To put it mildly, the Oilers are short on talent as described above. Nicholson ought to see this, and the Oilers ought to be looking for a general manager that knows that they’ve got to move towards speed and skill to win in today’s NHL.

Character? How can Nicholson not see that the club is devoid of talent in several key areas? He was president of Hockey Canada! You’d think he could see it a mile away.

I think that there’s some chance of a blind spot here. The absolute best Canadian athletes play for Team Canada. The Oilers...well, they’ve got a lot of great guys in the room. I’ve no doubt that Nicholson could assemble a powerhouse club if he only could select from the absolute best of the best. It’s just that..well, the Oilers have a lot of holes in the roster right now.

Nicholson has said that it’s not going to be an overnight process to select the next GM. That’s good, I’m glad he’s taking his time before jumping into a hire.

He can’t afford to be wrong again.