Edmonton fired Peter Chiarelli on Wednesday in an indictment of his roster moves in three-plus years as general manager, with the Oilers in striking distance of a playoff spot during another losing season. The team announced Chiarelli’s abrupt dismissal in the aftermath of its third consecutive loss. Edmonton has lost 12 of its past 16 games. The Oilers are 14-14-2 since firing coach Todd McLellan and replacing him with Ken Hitchcock.
CEO Bob Nicholson will oversee hockey operations and the search for Chiarelli’s replacement. Nicholson said at a news conference in Edmonton that Keith Gretzky will assume GM responsibilities for the time being, including the point role ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
Nicholson said the Oilers, 3 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, still believe they can make the playoffs. Chiarellli was told of his dismissal at the second intermission of a loss Tuesday night to Detroit so he could quietly leave the arena.
Nothing else about Chiarelli’s tenure in Edmonton was quiet. He was hired in 2015 after the Oilers won the draft lottery and selected star Connor McDavid. He was heralded as the right executive to get the Oilers back to respectability.
They've made the playoffs once in McDavid’s three seasons despite him putting up 329 points in 258 games, leading the league in scoring twice and winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP.
‘‘There’s something in the water here in Edmonton that we don’t have right,’’ Nicholson said at the news conference. ‘‘And we got to get that figured out.’’
Twenty-three years after Fox’s glowing puck made its debut, the NHL’s next big technological advancement will be on display this weekend during All-Star festivities. The NHL's upcoming puck and player tracking will get its first on-air television testing at All-Star Weekend. NBC will showcase the tracking technology during the skills competition and then feature it as part of a digital-only broadcast during the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament.