Oilers' Front Office Restructuring Sees Bob Nicholson Become Chair
The Oilers' decision to promote Bob Nicholson to Chair may not have made them a "better hockey club," but it did make them a "better business," according to Terry Jones of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Nicholson, who had been serving as CEO & Vice Chair, said that he is "all hockey side now." He plans to "divorce himself from the business side," which took a "bit of a hit at the end of last season with tickets available at well under original cost on the secondary market." The Oilers organization also "met heavy renewal resistance from the expiring three-year premium seating and regular season ticket customers." By his new job definition, Nicholson will "head up" all Oilers Entertainment Group sports properties, including the WHL Oil Kings and AHL Bakersfield Condors. In addition, he will "take the lead on an undefined global sports initiative." Nicholson yesterday introduced former Maple Leafs and Senators exec Tom Anselmi as President of Business Operations & COO, "responsible for all aspects" of OEG's day-to-day business operations and the new Ice District (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 6/11). Oilers GM & President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland will "report to Nicholson." Holland hired former NHL Seattle Senior Advisor Dave Tippett as head coach last month (AP, 6/10).
NOT ROCKET SCIENCE: The JOURNAL's Jones wrote Anselmi yesterday "definitely got off on the right foot" with the fan base, by "essentially speaking to them like he was talking over the fence with common sense." Anselmi said, "This business is pretty straightforward. It’s tickets. It’s sponsors. It’s broadcast rights. It’s merchandise. It’s food and beverage. And it’s making sure the experience of all those things is a great experience for your fan. When the team is not going that well, season ticket sales are tougher." He added, "We’re at 80-some per cent right now. ... We’re going to convince a lot more people that they want to be on board. This team has a very robust ticket business, especially for a population of a million people. We have to keep giving people a reason to renew every year" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 6/11).
CIVIC DUTY: SPORTSNET.ca's Mark Spector writes under the header, "Tom Anselmi Hire Opens Doors Beyond Hockey In Edmonton." Edmonton is "never going to be Toronto" when it comes to hosting pro sports team, but the city "has always had greater success than Toronto at hosting one-off events" like the World Track & Field Championships, World Figure Skating Championships and matches for Canada's national soccer teams. Nicholson said, "We want to look at what we can do in Edmonton, but make no mistake: We’re looking a lot bigger than Edmonton for where we might take that reach. We want to be a global leader in sports and entertainment." Spector noted while Edmonton has a metro population of just over 1 million, it has the "newest major arena in Canada, the best hockey player in Canada, Commonwealth Stadium, and an emerging Ice District with room to host an OEG version of Jurassic Park that is at least twice the size of the area outside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto" (SPORTSNET.ca, 6/10).