This was inspired by a thread on another forum and the research done by another poster, but I think it merits some discussion.
It doesn’t make sense that in the 11 years since Lowe was “fired” from the Oilers, three GM's have come through the door and almost all the moves look and feel indistinguishable from the GM before them.
Some Bruins fans rip on Chai, but at a time he was an undisputed brilliant executive. But becoming....this? It doesn't make sense. After doing some research into how OEG is structured, I think there's a case to be made that Kevin Lowe and his regime are still running the Oilers and using Chiarelli as the fall guy.
The organizational structure of Oilers Entertainment Group goes as such
1) Daryl Katz - Owner and Governor
2) Bob Nicholson- CEO & Vice Chair
3) Peter Chiarelli- President of Hockey Ops and GM
4) Wayne Gretzky- Vice Chair
5) Kevin Lowe- Vice Chair, Alternate Governor
6) Craig MacTavish- Vice President of Hockey Ops
For a quick refersh, Lowe was the GM of the Oilers from 2000-2008. Lowe imploded the Oilers after their SCF run in 06 and instead of getting fired, was promoted to President of Hockey Ops. He hired Steve Tambellini who fired long time coach Craig MacTavish in 2009. MacTavish was rehired by Lowe in 2012 to be the Senior VP of Hockey Op's while Tambellini was still GM, and then fired Tambellini and appointed MacTavish as GM. The Lowe/MacTavish tandem performance caused such an outrage that MacT was canned from the seat in less than two years and Lowe was removed from Hockey Ops as Bob Nicholson was brought in to become CEO of the Oilers.
2015 rolls around and for a guy like Chiarelli, it sounds like a good gig to become both GM and President of Hockey Ops of the Oilers. That's a big role and only an exclusive club of executives have ever held both those titles simultaneously. This 100% should be a promotion from his role in Boston. Plus he's walking in on the ground floor of Connor McDavid.
Bob Nicholson is introduced as the direct report to Chairelli's role, as the CEO and Vice-Chair. This shouldn't be the same situation Chia faced in Boston with Neely. Neely and Chairelli clashed in the years after 2011, as Neely asserted his power as President of the Bruins. Nicholsons role with the Oilers is focused on actual business management and not team management. So in theory, Chairelli should be free to manage the team any way he pleases. Right?
But then there's other executives with the vague job title "Vice-Chair". The first, to no surprise, is Kevin Lowe. Lowe has the role of Vice-Chair and Alternate Governor, in theory that makes him the second most powerful position in the organization. He's good friends with Nicholson and Katz, he's the former GM and President of hockey Ops and his job description reads as "working closely with the CEO". So is he Chiarelli's boss as well? Or only the boss when the Chair is incapacitated?
Then there's also Gretzky, the other Vice-Chair. Wayne is also buddies with the Nicholson and Lowe, plus he's the greatest player whose ever lived. His job description says he works close with hockey operations and is a 'sounding board' for the GM. Is he also Chai's boss? Does Peter need to listen to what Gretzky says? What exactly is the structure here? Could one of the Vice-Chairs be his boss and not the other? They're always in the owners box anyway, so they might as well be the bosses.
Then there's Craig MacTavish. The VP of Hockey Ops. Who also happens to be the former GM (that's a little awkward). He is also really good buddies with all Vice-Chairs and the owner. Does Chairelli even want him here? Is he in control of his job description? Could he even fire him if he wanted to?
So Chiarelli has effectively gotten a promotion in name only, has more bosses than before, has a subordinate who he likely can't fire or even change the job description of, and the only person of his own it seems he was able to bring in was Keith Gretzky.
I honestly don't even blame Chiarelli after understanding this mess of an organization. Scotty Bowman would probably be out of a job in two years as well.