Bob Nicholson, CEO and vice-chair of the Oilers Entertainment Group, told reporters Wednesday morning that the decision to fire Chiarelli was made before Tuesday’s loss. Nicholson gave the news to Chiarelli after the second period.
“It was really felt with the way the team was trending that we had to make this change,” he said.
“We have a lot of work to do here in the organization over break. We have some good time to do that. And we’ve got to find out answers about how we can make this team better to make the playoffs.”
Chiarelli issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“I would like to thank the Edmonton Oilers organization, owner Daryl Katz and his family, Bob Nicholson and the OEG executive group for the opportunity to be GM for the Edmonton Oilers. I wish the Oilers and the players good luck for the remainder of the season and in the future.”
The decision came just one day after goaltender Mikko Koskinen was given a three-year deal that had many fans scratching their heads. Nicholson said Chiarelli didn’t come to the Koskinen decision on his own.
“This deal really started when we got together with our pro-scouts in Palm Springs in our meetings,” he said. “We looked at the depths of the goalies that would be available next year.
“We really believe in Mikko. We had to make a decision between Mikko and Cam , we made the decision to go with Mikko and signed him to a three-year deal.”
WATCH BELOW: Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson said former GM Peter Chiarelli did not make the decision to sign goaltender Mikko Koskinen on his own.
Chiarelli joined the organization in April 2015. He put together the team that ended the Oilers 10-year playoff drought in the spring of 2017. But since then, the Oilers have faltered.
They missed the playoffs last year and are currently sitting at 23-24-3 with just five wins in their last 17 games.
WATCH BELOW: The Edmonton Oilers have fired president of hockey operations and general manager Peter Chiarelli. Online reporter Slav Kornik has reaction.
Chiarelli made several high profile moves. In June 2016, he traded forward Taylor Hall to New Jersey for defenceman Adam Larsson.
A year later, he traded Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome. In November, Strome was traded to the New York Rangers for seldom-used forward Ryan Spooner.
His free agent signings included defenceman Andrej Sekera in 2015 and Milan Lucic in 2016. Sekera has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons.
Earlier this month, Lucic endured a drought where he scored just twice in 88 games.
Chiarelli has been criticized for not bringing enough skill to the roster.
WATCH BELOW: Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson addresses the media after firing Chiarelli. He touched on the search for a new GM and how management will move forward to get the team in playoff position.
Much of their offence this season has revolved around Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Players which Chiarelli counted on to provide secondary scoring have, for the most part, failed to do so.
On Nov. 20, Chiarelli fired head coach Todd McLellan with the Oilers sitting at 9-10-1.
Chiarelli said he believed the team was capable of playing better. However, the same problems have plagued the Oilers under new head coach Ken Hitchcock, whose record is 14-14-2.
Nicholson said nothing about Hitchcock’s role would change after Chiarelli’s firing.
WATCH BELOW: Todd McLellan is out as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers and Ken Hitchcock is in. Kevin Karius has more on the move and what it means for the team moving forward.
Nicholson said Chiarelli was disappointed when he heard the news, but ultimately wasn’t surprised because of the “chatter” that had been happening around the city.
Oilers fans have been calling for Chiarelli to be fired for several weeks now, with #firechiarelli trending on Twitter multiple times.
Many fans seemed relieved online after the news broke late Tuesday night.
Nicholson said Keith Gretzky would be named interim GM, while Nicholson will look over operations. The search is on for a new GM, Nicholson said, but there is no timeline for how long that may take.
“Not in a rush, but as soon as we find a general manager we feel is right for the culture of the Oilers, we’ll name that person.”
LISTEN BELOW: Bob Stauffer speaks one-on-one with Bob Nicholson
The team will be looking for someone who can assess talent and help run all parts of the hockey operations.
As the trade deadline approaches, Nicholson promised the team would make moves if it benefited them, but they wouldn’t “give away the future” for a quick fix.
“I want to clearly give the message – I know there’s people out there who believe this team can’t make the playoffs. We believe in the organization, we believe in the dressing room that we can.”
The Oilers have 10 days off between games with the All-Star break and their bye week. They will be back in action Feb. 2 as they head to Philadelphia to face the Flyers.
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