EDMONTON, AB - Oilers Entertainment Group Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chair Bob Nicholson highlighted immediate changes to the hockey operations structure of the club during Wednesday's press conference announcing the relieving of Peter Chiarelli from his duties as president of hockey operations and general manager.
"Going forward today, Keith Gretzky will take on more of the general manager's duties, and I will oversee hockey operations," Nicholson said in his opening statement. "My main task will be looking for a general manager. We are not in a rush, but as soon as we find a general manager we feel is right for the culture of the Oilers, we'll name that person. When that will be, there's no deadline on that."
Video: RAW | Nicholson Press Conference
Gretzky has been in the assistant general manager role with the Oilers since July of 2016 after spending five years with the Boston Bruins - three as an Amateur Scout and the 2015-16 season as their Director of Amateur Scouting.
"Keith is going to be the key point person, but we're going to use all of our assets before we make any type of deal," Nicholson said. "Keith will lead that in conjunction with myself, but we'll be talking to all our pro scouts and amateur people before we make any type of deal."
Nicholson added that there's no timetable for the hiring of a new general manager.
"It's too early to define that right now," Nicholson said of when the replacement will be appointed. "We're going to really look for a person that can assess talent… and look for someone that can really help run all parts of hockey operations in a GM's role."
An extended search for a suitable candidate gives the organization ample opportunity to find the individual best suited for the position, with emphasis placed on a candidate that's suited for the modern NHL and organizational structure of OEG.
"That's why we're not going to be in a real rush to get a general manager; we have to get the right one even if that takes us some time because we have to look at all parts of this organization," Nicholson said. "I'm going to try to open up more doors in all aspects of this organization to find out those little things that just haven't been fixed over the last number of years for us not being in the playoffs."
The role of Head Coach Ken Hitchcock remains behind the bench for the Oilers, where there will be no changes.
"Ken's will not change. We made the statement that when Hitchcock was hired that he was the head coach until the end of the year," Nicholson said. "We're not talking to Ken on any other positions until the end of the year. Ken is the head coach and any time you have a head coach, he has to be the key guy responsible for what goes on in the room day-to-day. That will continue through the rest of the year."