fb-pixel Skip to main content

Oilers name Peter Chiarelli president/GM

Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson (left) didn’t let Peter Chiarelli wait long after his Bruins dismissal before naming him Oilers GM.jason franson/canadian Press

It was just a day or two after Peter Chiarelli was fired by the Bruins when his wife started to get nervous. As Chiarelli told it Friday afternoon, “My wife said, ‘Hey, you’re going to go crazy. Do something.’ And I think she’s right. This was literally two days — it was a day after.”

He tried to decompress, taking that weekend to think about things. But then the Edmonton Oilers came calling on Sunday, the day after they had won the draft lottery (i.e. the Connor McDavid sweepstakes), and Chiarelli decided he didn’t need any more time.

So just nine days after the Bruins fired Chiarelli, their general manager for the last nine years, he was announced as the Oilers’ new general manager and president of hockey operations at a press conference Friday in Edmonton.

Advertisement



“A week and a half ago, I got bad news, and today I got terrific news,” said Chiarelli, who signed his new contract Friday morning.

That bad news, it seems, still stings, despite the new position and new home and new challenge. (And it will be a challenge.) As Chiarelli mentioned multiple times in the press conference and in the conference call that followed, it was the first time he had been fired.

“This is a tough business, and I’ve never been fired before,” Chiarelli said. “I didn’t want to say anything right afterwards because I don’t want to say anything I would regret.”

So he remained silent, at least until Friday.

“I had nine real good years in Boston, and they’re really good people there and, you know, sometimes things have to be changed, and whether I agree with them or not, I respect the process and I respect both Cam [Neely] and Charlie [Jacobs] in making that decision,” Chiarelli said.

“I had a real good talk with Mr. [Jeremy] Jacobs this morning, and you know what, you just move on and you do what’s best for your family.

Advertisement



“There’s a lot of stuff that we built there in Boston and I’m proud of it and I wish them the best.”

It was widely speculated that Chiarelli would lose his job in Boston if the Bruins failed to make the playoffs, which they eventually did on the final day of the regular season. Neely, the team’s president, did not answer when asked in the press conference announcing the firing whether Chiarelli would have kept his job if the Bruins had advanced.

“The last stretch was tough, and I had expected to make the playoffs,” Chiarelli said Friday. “You have a lot of different things go through your head, and you just keep going through your day-to-day stuff, and that’s what I did. And then it came quickly.”

The answer, he meant. The decision to let him go, after nine seasons, seven consecutive playoff appearances, two trips to the Stanley Cup Final, and one Cup win.

In Edmonton, Chiarelli inherits a mess of an organization, one that has not made the postseason since 2005-06, when the Oilers made it to the Stanley Cup Final and lost. But there is hope, mostly in the form of that No. 1 pick in the draft and the right to select franchise center McDavid.

“That was a huge, huge cherry on top to have that, but the decision wouldn’t have been any different,” Chiarelli said.

Advertisement



This will be the fourth time in the last six years that the Oilers have selected first, both a boon to the talent in the organization and an indictment that they have not figured out how to win with it.

That will now be the job of Chiarelli, who likened the job in Edmonton more to what he found when he joined the front office in Ottawa than when he joined the Bruins in May 2006.

To make room for Chiarelli, Craig MacTavish will move from general manager to a job yet to be determined. And president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe will leave that area but remain vice chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group.

New Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson said the Bruins and Oilers are still in discussions about whether there will be draft pick compensation for Chiarelli.

“I’ve talked to the Bruins and Cam Neely and we’re in discussions on that topic there,” Nicholson said. “Something will be announced at a later date.”

According to a report on ESPN.com, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that teams can pursue draft pick compensation even for fired coaches, general managers, or presidents of hockey operations who remain under contract, as Chiarelli was. Teams can also decline to pursue the compensation, given that this is a way to get a fired executive or coach off their books.

It appears that the Bruins have chosen the former course of action regarding Chiarelli.

The new Oilers GM spent the past two days in Edmonton, bringing his son and his wife to check out their new home base. He wanted them to be part of the decision, “to see the sense and feel of the city,” he said.

Advertisement



And, with their blessing, he went for it.

“To work in the NHL is such a privilege,” Chiarelli said. “This opportunity came about with these people and I had to jump at it.”


Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.