Six days after winning the Connor McDavid lottery, the Edmonton Oilers have a new hockey man in charge.
Peter Chiarelli has been appointed president of hockey operations and general manager of the Oilers, effective immediately.
“They play fast,” Chiarelli, fired April 15 by the Boston Bruins, said of his new players. “I’d like to see them play a little harder.”
Chiarelli will report to CEO Bob Nicholson and be responsible for all aspects of hockey operations — one man holding the twin posts previously held by Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish.
“We are delighted to bring a person of Peter’s considerable hockey knowledge and experience to the Edmonton Oilers. Peter has had success at all levels of the game and we look forward to his leadership,” said Nicholson.
“He’s going to lead this group. I know we’re going to get this organization headed in the right direction.”
Former general manager MacTavish will remain with the organization. Former president of hockey operations Lowe will no longer hold any hockey responsibilities. He remains vice chair of Oilers Entertainment Group.
Before he was demoted, MacTavish had vowed to keep the team’s core group of young forwards — Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov — together.
Chiarelli reminded fans at his introductory press conference Friday that he has a history of trading young players (see: Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk).
“I am honoured to join such a great organization with a long history of success. There is a strong, young core here with good complementary players,” said Chiarelli. “I hope to bring it to the next level with a measured approach. Daryl Katz and Bob Nicholson have a great vision here for the team and Rogers Place. I am very excited to be a part of it.”
The Oilers need to make a decision on a head coach. Currently, Edmonton is guided by Todd Nelson, but he has an interim tag. Chiarelli also pointed out the 28th-place Oilers’ need to improve in net and on defence.
A 50-year-old native of Nepean, Ont., Chiarelli left Boston with a record of 386-233-85. His teams surpassed the 100-point mark on four occasions and qualified for the playoffs seven straight years from 2008 through 2014, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 and returning to the final in 2013.
Chiarelli also served as an assistant general manager for Team Canada’s gold-medal-winning team at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, where he worked with Nicholson.
Chiarelli graduated from Harvard University with an economics degree in 1987. He began his career in hockey after graduating with a law degree from the University of Ottawa and was hired as the director of legal relations for the Ottawa Senators in 2000. In 2005, Chiarelli was promoted to assistant general manager of the Senators and he served in that role for one season, before being hired by the Bruins in 2006.
Patrick LaForge has also stepped down as the Oilers’ president and chief operating officer.
“I support Bob in the changes he has implemented and I am very excited about the bright future for the Edmonton Oilers, the City of Edmonton and Oilers fans everywhere,” said Lowe in a statement. “It has been an honour to represent the Oilers both on and off the ice, and I look forward to my new role in the organization.”