The Edmonton Oilers fired embattled general manager Peter Chiarelli late Tuesday night after the team lost at home to the Detroit Red Wings, who had the fewest standings points in the NHL heading into the game.
A replacement for Chiarelli wasn't immediately announced by the team. Edmonton has a trio of former NHL general managers in upper management: Kevin Lowe, the team's alternate governor; Craig MacTavish, the senior vice president of hockey operations; and Scott Howson, vice president of player development. Lowe and MacTavish were previous Oilers GMs, and Howson served as GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Chiarelli was hired as GM and president of hockey operations in April 2015, following a run of nine seasons as general manager of the Boston Bruins, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2011. But his tenure in Edmonton was filled with controversial transactions, a failure to surround star Connor McDavid with sufficient talent and a lack of success on the ice, as the Oilers advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2017 but otherwise failed to make the postseason in each of Chiarelli's seasons at the helm.
In April 2018, Chiarelli received a vote of confidence from Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson at a postseason news conference following Edmonton's 12th-place finish in the Western Conference. "We had a down year, but I talked to Peter, and he has a plan to get us back in the playoffs next season," he said.
Whatever the plan was, it didn't work.
Edmonton began the season 9-10-1, resulting in Chiarelli firing coach Todd McLellan, whom he hired in 2015, and hiring veteran coach Ken Hitchcock in an attempt to salvage the season and his job.
"I think [the roster] is good enough. But none of us can absolve ourselves in this situation, including the players. I think they can be better," Chiarelli said when Hitchcock was hired.
Hitchcock has gone 14-13-2, leading to a 23-23-3 record overall. While the Oilers are just three points out of the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference, they've lost three games in a row and are 4-6-0 in their past 10 games. With the NHL All-Star break having arrived, the Oilers decided to use the time off as a chance to regroup, minus their general manager.
Chiarelli's legacy with the Oilers will be one of bold moves that backfired:
• He acquired defenseman Griffin Reinhart from the New York Islanders in June 2015; Reinhart played 29 games for the Oilers and is now in the Vegas Golden Knights' minor league system. The first-round pick sent to the Islanders by Edmonton in the trade was used to draft Mathew Barzal, the 2017-18 NHL rookie of the year.
• He signed hulking winger Milan Lucic, who played for Chiarelli in Boston, to a seven-year contract in July 2016. Slow and lumbering at a time when the NHL treasures speed, he has just 15 goals in his past 131 games, while his contract was rich with bonus money and trade protection.
• In one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory, Chiarelli sent star winger Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson in a one-for-one trade in June 2016. Hall won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP last season.
• He traded scoring winger Jordan Eberle to the Islanders for forward Ryan Strome in a cost-saving move in June 2017. Strome scored 14 goals in 100 games for the Oilers, before he was traded to the New York Rangers in November 2018 for center Ryan Spooner. Spooner was placed on waivers by Chiarelli this week after he notched just three points in 24 games.
Chiarelli made another controversial move roughly 24 hours before his firing, signing goalie Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $13.5 million contract extension with trade protection. Koskinen was the goalie of record in the Oilers' loss to the Red Wings on Wednesday night.
Chiarelli's firing comes roughly a month before the NHL trade deadline.