The firing of Peter Chiarelli

A weekly sports column from the 100 Mile Free Press

The biggest news in the NHL right now is the firing of Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers. Keith Gretzky is the interim general manager of the franchise and everyone will be focusing on him as he makes an attempt to fix the culture of losing that has been bred in the franchise for a long time now.

A further look shows that since 2007, the Oilers have had 13 coaches behind the bench, some of them being interim positions. They also had four general managers in that time in Kevin Lowe (fired in 2008), Steve Tambellini (2008-13), Craig MacTavish (2013-15) and the outgoing Chiarelli.

Of course, all four general managers had their fair share of blunders but it is probably the Chiarelli, who drafted McDavid, who will be remembered the most because of them.

In the same day that he drafted McDavid, who also bears the nickname McJesus, he sent a second first round pick (#16) as well as an early second draft pick to the New York Islanders for defenceman Griffin Reinhart. The Islanders drafted Matthew Barzal with the 16th overall pick.

As of Jan. 23, Barzal has scored 130 points in 133 games in the NHL. Reinhart has only played 37 games in the NHL and plays with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League, an affiliate of the Las Vegas Golden Knights who picked up Reinhart in their expansion draft. Chiarelli effectively wasted those two picks for nothing. In the same draft, he also dealt three more picks to the New York Rangers for Cam Talbot and Ziyat Paigin.

Talbot will be gone by the end of this season, despite leading the franchise to its first playoffs appearance in 10 years with 42 regular season wins during the 2016-17 season. Paigin has only played 12 games in North America, all for the Bakersfield Condors, Edmonton’s affiliate. But, he wasn’t done with just those trades. In 2016, he traded Taylor Hall, the Oilers’ first overall pick in 2010, to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson.

The latter has struggled heavily in Edmonton, while Hall has flourished.

In 2017, Chiarelli traded Jordan Eberle to the Islanders for Ryan Strome after the formers poor performance during the 2016-17 playoffs (the first he had ever played in the NHL). Strome was then in turn, traded to the New York Rangers for Ryan Spooner in 2018. Spooner is now dressing up for the Condors after being sent to waivers on Jan. 21. So Edmonton basically gave a 60-point guy in Eberle for nothing.

I am not even going to mention Chiarelli’s struggles with cap spaces and given high contracts to obsolete players way past their prime or to unproven goalies.

Gretzky will have his hands full fixing the mess that is the Oilers, and in all honesty, he probably won’t by the time a full-time general manager will be hired to replace his former boss.

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