The media push is well underway for Keith Gretzky. The current interim GM of the Edmonton Oilers is getting the full support of people like Jim Matheson for the full-time job, with PR and damage control seemingly already being done. We’ll get to all of that in moment, and how incorrect all those points are.
But first, would Oiler fans be okay with “The Average One”, as he was dubbed by Boston media when with the Bruins, taking over Hockey Operations? Sure, Gretzky didn’t puke on himself when he dealt Cam Talbot for Anthony Stolarz and Ryan Spooner for Sam Gagner, but failing to sell at the deadline isn’t a good look. Just because he didn’t completely soil his pants like Peter Chiarelli did time after time shouldn’t immediately make him the man in charge.
Guilty By Association:
To my followers: Keith Gretzky is not part of the Old Boys Club. He has the Gretzky name but he came from Boston Bruins in 2016. He’s worked his way up for close to 20 years, first as a scout. So quit with the remarks of the same old, same old from unhappy Oiler fans
That was a tweet sent out by Jim Matheson yesterday, he of the Edmonton Journal. I respect Jim’s work quite a bit, and his career speaks for itself. The reason I use him as an example here is because, quite frankly, I’m shocked to see him join the chorus of people praising Gretzky for some pretty mediocre work.
As I said above, Gretzky didn’t puke on himself quite like Chiarelli did, and he did a really good job by getting a useful player in Gagner back for Spooner. The trade of Cam Talbot for Anthony Stolarz was what it was, a salary dump deal by a desperate team.
Gretzky’s inability to sell at the deadline is a huge red flag, however. Yes, the Oilers have been playing much better lately and finding ways to win, but overall they’ve only gained a single point in the standings since deadline day. The odds they will make the playoffs continue to shrink.
Could it happen? Yes, it could. Am I happy the Oilers are working hard, competing their tails off and making things interesting? Absolutely, it is a lot more fun this way. That being said, the smart play would have been to sell off assets and potentially even dump some salary. They failed to do that.
Although Gretzky isn’t part of the 1980’s ‘Old Boys Club’, let’s not pretend that he’s carved out his own path and had no help along the way. I don’t think it is coincidence that his first NHL job came with the Phoenix Coyotes under the ownership of his brother Wayne. He got a job in hockey because of his last name, and worked for his brother early in his career.
In two of his three jobs, Gretzky was employed by teams either owned or advised by Wayne. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve a job in the sport or that he’s a terrible person to have around, but let’s not pretend he was interning and getting coffee for everyone, fighting to get noticed. That’s simply not how it went.
In a way, hiring Gretzky absolutely is the same old, same old when it comes to the Oilers. Hiring a candidate from within who, for all intents and purposes, was part of the last regime just makes no sense to me.
Gretzky was the right-hand man of Chiarelli while he demolished the Oil. He was right there for the Jordan Eberle trade, the Kris Russell extension, the decision (twice!) to not replace Andrej Sekera, the Strome-for-Spooner deal, Brandon Manning, Alex Petrovic (remember him?), the Brodziak signing and the decision to actively keep the same group together after a terrible 2017-18 season.
Gretzky was right there with Chiarelli, and in my mind is 110% guilty by association. He was right there while Chiarelli destroyed the Boston Bruins as well, and was one of the people right there pushing for the trade of Tyler Seguin. He’s guilty in all of this, and was guilty of it all in Boston as well.
Hiring him is just more of the same. It’s a different face to the plan. If you think Gretzky had nothing to do with the consistently poor decisions of his boss, then I’m not sure what to tell you. Gretzky may have learned his lesson and may be ready to take the lead job, but I’m not willing to take that chance.
I don’t really care about a guy’s last name. The optics might be bad regarding the hiring of a guy named Gretzky, but if the credentials are there and he can do that job then it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t see any evidence that suggests Keith Gretzky is the right fit to be the next GM of the Edmonton Oilers.
Just because he made two moves that weren’t losses doesn’t make him a qualified candidate. Are our standards so low from the Chiarelli debacle that we will now settle for “doesn’t soil own pants under pressure”? When did that become acceptable in Edmonton? How can a businessman like Katz approve that?
Gretzky was Chiarelli’s right-hand man in Boston, along with Don Sweeney and Cam Neely. He followed his former boss to Edmonton and was right there as he dismantled another highly skilled team. Now you are going to ask the man that stood by, and even assisted, in the downfall of your organization to fix it?
Keith Gretzky might not be part of the Oilers’ ‘Old Boys Club’, but he’s part of hockey’s ‘Old Boys Club’ and played a part in the demise of the Edmonton Oilers. Hiring him because he’s already on the payroll or because he knows the team is exactly the kind of mistake that got us here in the first place.
Hiring Keith Gretzky as GM should be out of the question. It shouldn’t even be a consideration. Naturally, I’ve accepted the fact that it is his job to lose, and that Keith Gretzky will be the next GM of the Edmonton Oilers.
Once again, this organization is doing the exact thing that many fans don’t want to happen. Same as it ever was in Northern Alberta.