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TALKING POINTS: Nicholson speaks

Oilers Chief Executive Officer & Vice Chair Bob Nicholson discussed a number of topics on Thursday, including the organization's plans moving forward and the current period of evaluation taking place

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers Chief Executive Officer & Vice Chair Bob Nicholson spoke to the media following the 2017-18 season on Thursday.

See Nicholson's comments on a range of topics below.

Video: RAW | Nicholson Press Conference

On the Humboldt bus tragedy:

"I just want to again take us back to the tragedy in Humboldt. In my old career with Hockey Canada dealing with junior hockey players and minor hockey across the country, the outcry and support in Canada has been unbelievable but also across the world. It is in our DNA as Canadians. When you look at the families that have been affected here, their young boys were part of hockey. The bus rides are what the game is all about. Our thoughts and prayers are with them from OEG. From all our players and staff. We will be holding a service here on Tuesday at 1:00 pm. We invite all of the public here to go to this service. To all the families, our thoughts and prayers are with you."

On the Oilers season:

"In regards to the Oilers, I know there has been a lot of different comments made. We are in an evaluation process. I'm here today to tell you that the President (of Hockey Operations) and General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, Peter Chiarelli, will be the general manager next year. We are going through the process with not just the coaches but with everyone within the hockey operations and OEG staff. Peter, when I look at that, I really believe in his plan. Over the last number of months, we've been meeting with a lot of our season ticket holders. There's anger and disappointment of where we ended up. We certainly understand where they are. We will have a plan coming out here in the near future of how we're going forward."

On Paul Coffey returning next season:

"That's part of the evaluation that we're looking at right now. All those pieces. All the coaching staff, all of that is under review. We'll have something in the near future.

We really thought it was important. Paul is a great resource. We knew we wouldn't be able to use it a lot because he was coaching his son. I think Paul contributed and we'll evaluate where that will go going forward."

On Chiarelli's return and the plan going forward:

"Yes. Both President and General Manager.
We want to do an evaluation and make the decisions that we feel are right. We're going to make sure we take the appropriate time to make those decisions and that's what we're doing right now.

On his confidence in Chiarelli:

"Once I came in here three years ago as CEO and hired Peter Chiarelli, I've seen his plans and what he's done. A lot of it you don't see what he's done with the scouting component of this organization. Yes, we had a down year but I really believe that when I talk to Peter, he has a plan to get us back in the playoffs next year. We'll unveil that plan once we go through this evaluation."

On the sentiment expressed by Daryl Katz after the disappointing 2017-18 season:

"It's probably no different than everyone in this room and the fans. There's big disappointment. Last year was pretty exciting for the first time under his ownership that we made the playoffs. He's disappointed, angered and wants us to get it right. Certainly, in my discussions, he's waiting to hear the recommendations that I'll make after discussions with Peter."

On the part Nicholson plays in decision-making regarding coaches:

"You always want to make sure you look into the past but our focus is on the future and where we want to go. We all know what's happened over the last few years here. I'm certainly going to listen to Peter. My job is to listen to that and then take that to the ownership and Daryl Katz."

On the difficulty in making the playoffs in a competitive NHL:

"Gary Bettman loves the League the way it is today because it's so competitive. But this League and this organization is evaluated on wins and losses, and our job is to get back into the playoffs. Yes, it's tough. You heard Peter the other day talking about our roster and players that underachieved. We have to really evaluate that. We have very, very good pieces. We just have to make sure we evaluate all those pieces and put the right pieces in place to get to playoffs, which is very difficult. But we have one goal and that's to make sure we're back in there."

Video: RAW | Chiarelli News Conference

On the amount of Chiarelli's control in making decisions:

"Peter leads the Hockey Operations side. We talk about that all the time and I do the majority of the communication to ownership. We have other people around us that give us input but it's Peter Chiarelli's job to do that."

On working relationship with Todd McLellan and his performance:

"I think Todd McLellan's past speaks for itself. He was up for Coach of the Year. Todd is a person that really uses all his assets. He uses his assistant coaches. And in the competitive environment that we're in in the National Hockey League, I think you have to make sure that you use all those resources. We're certainly going to evaluate those, have those discussions on all the resources that are there and how do you put that all together to go forward in a positive manner."

On the organization's handling of the salary cap:

"We know what Connor McDavid's salary is going to be next year. Anything that we do, we look at a one, two and a three-year plan. So, that's why the cap was where it was this year for our organization.

We haven't gone into great depth on that (McDavid's contract kicking in and changing cap) but we feel when we've looked at that, we will be a cap team. We're very close to being a cap team and we're going to make some moves to strengthen this team."

On Chiarelli's plan moving forward:

"I really believe that Peter thinks through everything he does. I believe he understands where our gaps were this year. Making those changes aren't easy, as you all know in this room. We have to make sure we have a number of different situations to move forward. Peter Chiarelli has got a very good relationship with other general managers in this League to make those trades or exchanges easier than someone who doesn't have those great relationships."

On the evaluation period timeline:

"From my own personal side of it, I'm not a person that's going to rush it. We'll announce it when we're ready and do all our homework. I'm not going to put a timeline on that."

On enhancing the fan experience at Oilers games:

"We talk about it all the time. I think the fans in Edmonton are different than in Vegas. Although when you talk about the Vegas experience, we had six or seven thousand fans down there. When you look at a Canadian fan compared to a U.S. fan, they're different. You saw what happened in Winnipeg last night, you saw what happened when we were in the playoffs last year. But that's something we talk about within the organization. We're looking at different ways to make sure they get up and cheer."

On how to evaluate a general manager:

"It starts with wins and losses but it also starts with what you're doing with your scouting group. How you're handling the scouts and how you're handling the development. In all of that, Peter's done a very good job of how he's organized that. I feel the information that we're getting going into this year's draft and what we're doing on the development side is very good. It starts with wins and losses but those other pieces are very important. A general manager's job is to make the organization strong longer-term. The coaches job is to make that team successful shorter term."

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