As Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli does a postmortem on his dismissal, he has no one other than himself to blame.
According to multiple reports, Chiarelli was fired last night after the Oilers lost 3-2 to a Detroit Red Wings team that had blown two third-period leads over the previous four days. The 45-point Red Wings are two points out of last place in the NHL.
Edmonton, which has a 23-24-3 record, has lost nine of its last 11 games. The Oilers are on pace to miss the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons. (They reached the playoffs in 2017 under Chiarelli, losing in the second round.)
In professional sports, people are dismissed because of bad luck as much as poor performance. This is a business in which one team must fail for another to succeed. But Chiarelli’s job was lost not because his team is under-performing, but because his time in Edmonton has been marked by poor decisions that have left this team in a mess.
Since 2015, Chiarelli has had the NHL’s most dynamic offensive star in Connor McDavid, a player who creates an offensive spark on every shift. And yet somehow Chiarelli has made so many managerial mistakes that the Oilers seem no better today than they did when he arrived.
Oilers ownership clearly didn’t trust Chiarelli to go through another trade deadline for good reason.
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His body of work:
► Griffin Reinhart deal: In 2015, even though there were already doubts about Reinhart’s ability to play in the NHL, Chiarelli gave up the No. 16 and No. 33 draft picks to the Islanders for Griffin. The Islanders used the No. 16 pick to draft Mathew Barzal, who is a young star. Today, Reinhart is with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League.
►Taylor Hall deal: In June 2016, Chiarelli traded Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson. Hall became the NHL’s 2018 Most Valuable Player and Larsson said earlier this week that he’s playing worse than he’s ever played in his life. Larsson can be a valuable player, but Chiarelli should have gotten more for Hall.
► Jordan Eberle trade: In June 2017, Chiarelli traded Eberle to the Islanders for Ryan Strome. When Strome, the No. 5 pick in 2011, didn’t work out, he traded Strome for Ryan Spooner, who was placed on waivers this week. In fairness to Chiarelli, Eberle seemed to need a change of scenery. But even at the time of the trade, the league consensus was that Chiarelli hadn’t received enough in return for a 20-plus goal scorer. Even though Eberle isn’t having the best of seasons, he will still probably net around 20 goals on an Islanders team that has the NHL’s fifth-best record.
► Milan Lucic signing: On July 1, 2016, Chiarelli signed Lucic to a seven-year, $42 million deal. But Lucic’s bruising style and poor skating aren’t a fit for today’s fast-paced NHL. Chiarelli desired Lucic’s toughness and grit, but didn’t foresee Lucic’s decline in offensive production. He has scored 15 goals over his past 132 games.
These are just some of the lowlights in a long list of missteps since Chiarelli took over as GM in 2015. Despite having McDavid and his speed, Chiarelli hasn’t been able to transform the Oilers into a skating team.
He hasn’t been able to fix the defense. The additions of Brandon Manning and Alex Petrovic did not address major holes.
And he ended his tenure by signing 30-year-old goalie Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $13.5 million deal on Monday. Koskinen has played 32 games in the NHL.
The Oilers hired Chiarelli because he had built a championship team in Boston. They wanted him to bring magic to the Oilers. Instead, he gave them Tobias Rieder and Kyle Brodziak. That’s why Chiarelli is out of work today.