Edmonton fans woke up to some long-overdue but welcomed news on Wednesday morning with the announcement of the firing of GM Peter Chiarelli, who was canned during the second intermission of Tuesday's loss to the Red Wings—a third straight defeat on home ice for the free-falling Oilers.
A high-ranking, front office executive getting axed during a game may seem quite unusual because, well, it is. Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson held a press conference to explain the move, saying the decision to fire Chiarelli was made this week and that the now-former GM was told in the middle of the game so he could quietly leave the arena without media attention.
That's a good cover up story, for sure, but it's hard not to assume that the real reason Chiarelli was booted during intermission was because he was in the middle of trading the team's 2019 first-rounder and Jesse Puljujarvi for nine third-pairing defenseman or some shit like that.
Honestly this is probably a tough time for Chiarelli and his family, but there is a group far more impacted by his departure, a bunch of dudes that will suffer immensely because of this.
I'm of course talking about the league's other 30 general managers.
These poor Hockey Men and Computer Boys have just lost their most reliable trading partner, a guy they could always count on for a good fleecing when they needed to shake up their roster. Chia was always there when they needed him, and his loyalty and commitment to improving every team around the NHL but his own will undoubtedly be sorely missed by his former colleagues.
Need to add a Hart Trophy winner to your forward group and get rid of a second-pairing blueliner? Chia always had you covered. Looking to shed some salary? Chiarelli would happily and unselfishly take on that burden at the expense of his own team's cap management. While the rest of the league's GMs went after players with skill, speed, youth and versatility, Chiarelli was selflessly giving slow, impactful (AKA the opposite of impactful) "shutdown" guys a spot on his squad while bailing his fellow GM brethren out of their own poor personnel decisions.
This man was a true team player, I mean just look at all these moves he made to help other teams get better:
- Draft picks to the Islanders for a Griffin Reinhart, who has played 37 total NHL games. The Isles ended up drafting Mathew Barzal with the first-rounder. So nice of Chia to bless the Islanders with a franchise centreman!
-Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson? He was just making sure the notoriously offensively-challenged Devils got a little help in the goal-scoring department. All class! A giving spirit.
-Moving Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome who turned into Ryan Spooner, who... just cleared waivers? Just wanted to make sure his buddies on Long Island were set up front for the foreseeable future. A real good-guy move.
And it's not just with the Oilers, Chiarelli has always been a very giving guy. Remember when he was with the Bruins and essentially gifted the Dallas Stars top forward Tyler Seguin?
NHL general managers surely aren't the only ones sad to see him go, as mediocre players looking to be egregiously overpaid will miss Chiarelli's extremely charitable donations, too!
Who else is going to toss absurd money, term and no-trade clauses at guys like Milan Lucic and Kris Russell? Who will overpay No. 3 of 4 defenceman as much as him? Where would a mediocre, aging platoon goaltender like Mikko Koskinen be able to lock up a three-year, $4.5-million deal with the Bank of Chiarelli closing its doors?
This is a sad day for general managers and overvalued players everywhere. Chiarelli was their saint, their provider of life, their reliable negotiating partner who never hesitated to put the needs of other franchises way ahead of his own.
As far as front-office team players go, the hockey world lost a good one today.