Edmonton Oilers CEO and vice chair Bob Nicholson still has full confidence in general manager Peter Chiarelli. The same can’t exactly be said for head coach Todd McLellan and his staff.
Nicholson addressed reporters in Edmonton on Thursday and stated that he believes Chiarelli, also president of hockey operations, is still the right guy to lead the Oilers’ front office and isn’t going anywhere — despite Edmonton missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons under his guidance.
However, when asked about McLellan or his assistants returning for 2018-19, Nicholson would only say the organization still has some thinking to do heading into the off-season.
"We will have a plan coming out in the near future with how we are moving forward," said Nicholson. "I think we want to do an evaluation and make the decisions we think are right. We are going through the process with not just the coaches but everyone within hockey operations and (Oilers Entertainment Group) staff.
"It’s all being evaluated."
The Oilers entered the 2017-18 season with high expectations, but things quickly went downhill after they started the year 3-6-1 in the month of October and chased pack the rest of the way.
Despite another strong outing from superstar forward Connor McDavid — who earned his second straight league scoring title — the Oilers had a 25-point drop in the standings from the previous season, when they made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 with 105 points.
Edmonton finished 23rd this year with a 36-40-6 record. The Oilers were 25th in goals against, dead last on the power play and 25th on the penalty kill.
Nicholson plans to discuss coaches with Chiarelli, but says the GM will have the most input in any coaching changes.
"On the whole it was a challenge for our coaches this year," Chiarelli told reporters in Edmonton on Wednesday. "I think Todd is a very good coach but we’re in a period of evaluation right now with him and his staff. Certainly we didn’t perform the way we expected."
Nicholson hired Chiarelli in April of 2015 after he was let go by the Boston Bruins. Chiarelli brought in McLellan only a month later to be Edmonton’s sixth different coach since 2010. Despite regressing in numerous ways over the course of a year, Nicholson is optimistic in Chiarelli’s vision.
"Yes we had a down year but I really believe when I talk to Peter he has a plan to get us back in the playoffs next year," said Nicholson. "Our goal is to make the playoffs next year."
Nicholson mentioned that he’s met with season ticket holders that are frustrated with the organization. He also says team owner Daryl Katz is: "disappointed, angered and wants us to get it right."
McLellan is 114-109-23 in three seasons with Edmonton.
Nicholson won’t hint at when an announcement on the coaching staff will be made.
"From my own personal side of it I’m not a person that’s going to rush it, we’ll announce it when we are ready," said Nicholson. I’m not going to put a timeline on it."