Nicholson: Oilers to start GM interviews in next two weeks

Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson discusses their GM search progress, says they’ve had many good conversations with people in the game, and are focused on the team needs and the criteria for the position.

It’s been about six weeks since the Edmonton Oilers fired general manager and president of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli, marking yet another major shake-up in a rebuilding organization that can’t quite seem to establish the right formula for success.

At the time of the announcement, Bob Nicholson had some strong words about the culture within the organization — “There’s something in the water here in Edmonton that we don’t have right,” the CEO said back in January — and pledged patience ahead of his extensive search for the right candidate to lead the Oilers into (another) new era.

On Tuesday, Nicholson provided a brief update on where things stand, explaining that he’s been speaking with “a lot of people in the game” over the past three-and-a-half weeks. Of course, he didn’t tip his hand when it comes to possible candidates for the job — though we’ve wagered a few guesses of our own — but he did provide a timeline for the next phase of the process.

“It’s been a great opportunity for myself, the last couple of days to talk to some more people,” Nicholson told reporters during the annual GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. “We’ll start to interview people probably in the next two weeks or so.”

When asked, Nicholson said he has not yet requested permission to interview candidates currently on staff with any teams.

“I’m really trying to make sure I get all the information from as many sources as possible and then really looking at how I’ll move down that path, seeing if I can get permission, first of all, from the right people,” he said. “And if I can do that, then I’ll start to move on it.”

As Nicholson’s search continues, Keith Gretzky has temporarily assumed most of the GM duties in Edmonton.

When asked about the importance of the candidate having NHL experience, Nicholson had this to say:

“I think it’s always important, you know, you’re playing in the National Hockey League. There certainly are a lot of up-and-coming people that are assistant general managers that really know the league and know the players and I think really focusing on what is the Oilers’ need, what is our first no. 1 criteria for the position of general manager,” he said. “Getting closer to that, realizing what that’ll be, because of so many good discussions I’ve had.”

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