NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defends Edmonton Oilers organization

SAN JOSE, Calif. — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has a simple message for Edmonton Oilers fans: don’t panic.

Bettman was asked about the struggling Oilers at his state of the league address on Friday as part of the NHL’s all-star game weekend. The question came four days after frustrated superstar Connor McDavid said his teammates should leave Edmonton if they didn’t believe in the Oilers and three days after general manager Peter Chiarelli was fired.

“In the final analysis I believe they’ll figure this out because Connor and his teammates are incredibly talented,” said Bettman, who had a media engagement with McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews on Thursday. “I have no doubt that he’s frustrated about the team not being as successful as they’d all like. Connor’s a great player and he understands that the team’s going to have to work its way out of it.”

Edmonton (23-24-3) enters the NHL all-star break on a three-game losing skid.

Despite having several first overall draft picks — including McDavid — over the past decade, the Oilers have missed the playoffs 11 of the past 12 seasons. Edmonton has won just one playoff series since reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2006. In the past 10 years, the Oilers have had eight head coaches and three GMs.

“To suggest that the Edmonton Oilers are in disarray or in trouble, I think is a gross overstatement,” said Bettman. “That franchise is well owned, well run, but they have some issues to deal with.”

The Oilers fired head coach Todd McLellan in November and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock, whose team has lost 12 of its past 17 games after some initial success.

Chiarelli was originally hired to rebuild the Oilers around superstar McDavid in April of 2015, but struggled to find the right pieces to play alongside the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner.

Bettman said that despite the on-ice struggles and front-office turmoil, Oilers owner Daryl Katz and team CEO Bob Nicholson will be able to right the ship.

“This is an incredibly competitive league and everybody wants to win,” Bettman said. “I know Daryl Katz and Bob Nicholson are committed to winning. The team is being provided with all the resources, but it’s tough to win.”

Just Posted

Petroleum producers speak to Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers brings recommendations

Science fair is around the corner

Central Alberta Rotary Science Fair happens March 29 and 30.

Country star Gord Bamford and The Reklaws perform free Games concert Friday

Show starts at 6:30 p.m. in heated dome off Celebration Plaza in downtown Red Deer

U.S. franchisee files suit against Tim Hortons, alleging price gouging

Weeks after achieving a breakthrough in two class-action lawsuits with restive Canadian… Continue reading

Ponoka host to Bayer Crop Science seed innovations trade show

The company held a trade show with seed crop science industry partners at the ag event centre

Gaudreau snaps goal drought to help Flames double up Islanders 4-2

CALGARY — The drought is over for Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau’s first goal… Continue reading

Federal government set to develop code of conduct for sport in Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government is developing a code of conduct for… Continue reading

Jay Baruchel has trained the dragon, now he’s letting go with ‘The Hidden World’

TORONTO — The first time actor Jay Baruchel stepped into a recording… Continue reading

Hockey ref says AC/DC support is giving him motivation in Alzheimer’s fundraiser

Enthusiastic AC/DC fan Steve McNeil says he’s feeling inspired to push even… Continue reading

Gardening: What are you planting in 2019?

What’s new in plants for 2019? Checking catalogues, greenhouses and stores will… Continue reading

Opinion: I spy another energy hypocrite

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The mittens provided to… Continue reading

Canada’s bobsleigh team races World Cup on Calgary home track facing closure

CALGARY — Canada’s skeleton and bobsled teams will race a World Cup… Continue reading

Most Read