Bob Nicholson is a gifted administrator with a long record of success who should be welcomed into the fold as the just-unveiled vice-chairman of the newly formed Oilers Entertainment Group.

Nicholson is somebody I first met 30 years ago under the most difficult of circumstances – the death of a player named Jeffrey Butler from a skate cut to the neck while playing for the Abbotsford Falcons – and there’s been a lot of water pass under the bridge since then, most notably his long tenure with Hockey Canada.

With owner Daryl Katz looking to expand the reach of what we’re now calling the OEG beyond interests in the Oilers, WHL Oil Kings, AHL OKC Barons the ECHL Bakersfield Condors and the dormant Edmonton Capitals, Nicholson is a first-rate hire. He’ll lean far more heavily to the business side of the operation than the hockey-ops end, where pal Kevin Lowe and GM Craig MacTavish run the show. Makes sense. Adding a skilled manager always does.

All the above, of course, is drawing a collective shrug in some corners of the fan base for obvious reasons – Lowe still has his POHO title and while the Oilers look better on paper in the front office and coaching staff, there hasn’t been anything done, nada, player personnel wise – save for the signing of Steve Pinizzotto. Besides, how can anybody who has sat through the, ahem, music played at Rexall Place have great faith a new entertainment group is worth getting excited about?



I get fan indifference toward today’s addition of Nicholson. What about adding some real NHL defensemen (first pairing guys, please)? What does MacTavish have on the go with the free agent season approaching? Will Derek Laxdal be promoted from head coach of the Oil Kings to the fourth assistant under Dallas Eakins? What about Todd Nelson?

Who does Stu MacGregor and his scouting staff have pegged for the third pick in the Entry Draft? How, pray tell, is the team going to be anything other than also-ran fodder yet again if MacTavish doesn’t get a move-on and make a half-dozen roster changes? All legit questions, most of which have let to be answered. The OEG addresses none of those.

Save for the hiring of assistant Craig Ramsay, the Oilers have given fans precious little meat to chew on. Today’s announcement was big picture stuff, It’s about running and booking more dates at the new arena. It’s about adding business IQ and management skills as Katz expands his empire under the OEG umbrella. I’m all for it.

I won’t be the least bit surprised if the OEG pursues the acquisition of another junior team, perhaps in the OHL or QMJHL, maybe both. Will the OEG look to purchase the Edmonton Rush? Might we get pro baseball out of mothballs? What about the Edmonton Eskimos? There’s a lot of stuff on the go here, and adding Nicholson to oversee the operation works for me.



I’d like to think that if the Oilers and the OEG continue weeding out the weaklings and adding people with proven resumes in their field of expertise, like Ramsay and Nicholson, insistence on raising the bar will eventually filter down to the product that matters most – the Oilers.

Patience is a tough sell in a town that hasn’t seen the NHL playoffs in eight seasons, but every move like the additions of Ramsay and Nicholson and every deletion of those not getting it done makes the overall organization stronger. Assembling the best possible management group is an absolute must as part of the business plan with that big, new rink on the way.

While Lowe remains and we’ve yet to see the playlist for the next game at the rink while we wait for MacTavish to get busy and make the HOCKEY TEAM better, the Oilers are a stronger organization today than they were yesterday. I have no doubt about that.

You’ve got to walk before you can run.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Dan 1919

    I listened to the OEG press conference on CFRN Thursday night.

    What I came away with was how the OEG would have the world beating a path to our door. Really? Did Pittsburgh change the world when their state of the art arena was built? Did Winnipeg all of a sudden become a “world class” city when they re-claimed an NHL team? Hardly.

    The OEG press conference was a lesson in marketing and circle jerking.

    The number of times Nicholson praised Kevin Lowe and mentioned Daryl Katz vision was a perfect example of ass kissing. There I said it. Sychophants and nepotism. The OEG and Oilers are full of it.

    Until the on ice product changes and the cronyism is gone from the Oilers they will be anything but world class. They remain a plaything for a guy with too much money and not enough brains to use it wisely.


  • Quicksilver ballet

    Why does it always have to be about the depressing Oilers. Why wouldn’t they call it the Edmonton Entertainment Group since it’s the taxpayers who supplied the funding for this place?

    What a Gong Show. They need a couple centers along with a couple top pairing blue liners, and they bring in another administrator….wtf. Major announcement my arse.

  • Serious Gord

    I would assume that OEG, has much many more ambitions than Oilers or even hockey over all for that matter.

    They will be operating a $600 mil. complex that needs to have the lights on 300 + days a year!. They will probably have their own concert/events promotion/production company within OEG,and could promote events in other arenas around America.

    There is a good reason why ” entertainment ” is in their namesake. Owning other teams/franchise, and buldings could be part of the plan as well.

    If you can be a half billion dollar company , why not one or two billion .

    This is big picture stuff.

    PS. Don’t think that Katz would not want to drive Northlands out of the Ent. business.

  • Dan 1919

    While the hierarchy of the organization doesn’t bother me one way or the other, the thing that DOES bother me is how many more millions of dollars are going to be spent on fat salaries while we pay the perhaps highest price for game tickets in the NHL. A beer was $9.25 last season, a can of pop $5. We are being ripped off by the concessions, who in turn are probably being charged a fortune for the pleasure of serving us a pretty pathetic selection of food, and ripped off with the price of tickets. Perhaps Mr. New Top-Dog can explain this to someone who can barely afford a hot-dog at Rexall.

  • If anyone posts under someone else’s name? Since when are user names on an anonymous blog comment section copywrited? Thanks again for keeping my original comment up via your reply Robin.
    It’s funny how you’re the only blogger with this power struggle.

  • Serious Gord

    From wiki:

    “A conspiracy theory is an explanatory proposition that accuses two or more persons, a group, or an organization of having caused or covered up, through secret planning…”

    What conspiracy theory? Friends rarely fire friends. Nicholson’s hire clearly wasn’t one done to initiate a management house-cleaning – quite the opposite. And that was in full view today – nothing secret about it.

  • This is why a lot of comments get removed — people posing as other posters, commenting under multiple names etc. Most often it’s donkeys with nothing better to do, not people who post here on an ongoing basis.

    We don’t insist that people use their real names when posting (I’d like to see that change, at least for signing up) and we don’t have a lot of rules, but if somebody dicks around with the few we do have, their comments get pulled and often they get blocked.

    If anybody posts under your name or anybody else’s let us know.