The bloodlust of the angry mob in Edmonton has been satiated, at least for the moment, with the firing of Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli.
Bob McKenzie had a Wednesday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690.
“Let’s be honest: The way the team was trending, it was inevitable that there was going to be a change in managers, that Chiarelli was going to lose his job at some point,” said McKenzie. “There was just too deep a hole to try and dig out of. In the very short term - that is hour-to-hour, day-to-day - it just became so untenable in the marketplace. The way that they played in the last number of games on this seven-game homestand - I think they ended up 3-4 in that seven-game homestand - but so many of those losses were so dispiriting.
“With Detroit in town - Detroit, technically, I guess, going into the game last night, was tied for worst team in the National Hockey League in terms of point totals. Even though if you’re watching the Red Wings a lot of nights, they actually play competitive hockey against just about everybody. But nevertheless, they still come in with the tag of ‘worst team in hockey,’ and a rather feeble effort for the Edmonton Oilers. It just underscores the bigger long-term concerns about lack of depth up front and lack of marquee talent and depth on the blueline.
“The entire market is just so toxic right now that they had to make a move, like literally right after the game. That’s how responsive they felt they needed to be to the fans, to give some indication that things are going to be different.
“But there’s still a lot of variables here going forward.”
McKenzie was asked if the timing of the firing, with the Oilers still in a playoff race in the Western Conference, was a sort of ‘light a fire under them’ mentality to get the team going.
“I suppose, but I still think it’s probably a broader picture than that,” countered McKenzie. “And the broader picture is that the team is nowhere close to where it needs to be to contend. Even if they were to make the playoffs, does anybody feel like they’ve got the depth - the offensive depth - beyond their top three forwards to compete with any of the good teams in the Western Conference. And I think the answer most people would have is no.
“So as they look at these holes in their lineup, the architect of it is Peter Chiarelli, lock stock and barrel. He’s got to take ownership of that. And they’re like, ‘Okay, what reason is there to believe that we’re going to be any different here in the future here if we just go status quo.
“So the combination of the longer-term big picture of not liking where they’re at and then just the overall toxicity in the marketplace equals general manager getting called in after the game and fired.”