Oilers to name Bob Nicholson chairman, Tom Anselmi President and COO

The Edmonton Oilers announced that they are changing up their management structure today as Bob Nicholson moves from being the company’s CEO to the role of chairman, while Tom Anselmi will now oversee business operations as President and COO.

According to a release from the team, Bob Nicholson’s new role will be as the senior leader of OEG’s hockey teams, including the Oilers, Bakersfield Condors, and Oil Kings. He will also work alongside Katz Group CEO, Jurgen Schreiber, on expanding the OEG’s global reach and spreading the Oilers brand around the world. On the hockey side, newly appointed GM Ken Holland will still report to Nicholson despite having full autonomy over all things Edmonton Oilers. (Yes, the Oilers included that Holland has full autonomy in their release)

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As President, Business Operations and COO, Tom Anselmi will be responsible for all aspects of OEG’s business operations, including facility management, operation of Rogers Place, sales and marketing, team finance and everything in between. Previously, Anselmi worked with the Canucks as a Vice President before spending more than 17 years with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, filling varying roles until his departure in July of 2013. Most recently, Anselmi spent a year with the Ottawa Senators as President and CEO before stepping down in January.

“With Bob leading our hockey clubs and Tom leading our business operations we have a powerhouse combination as we continue to build an elite organization in all aspects of what we do. This is an exciting time for our company and the city, and we are full of optimism about the Edmonton Oilers and ICE District hitting full stride in the very near future.” -Daryl Katz

While these managerial moves may or may not have all that much to do with what happens on the ice, one storyline that will be interesting to follow as the year plays out is what will happen to Bob Nicholson. Word on the street is that IIHF President Rene Fasel could be stepping down at the end of his contract, a post that could have Nicholson’s name on it if he wants the gig. Could this be the first step? We shall see. Either way, the summer of change continues in Edmonton.

    • 50 Flex

      I have been to a number of NHL rinks. The bathroom situation was terrible in all of them. No building is designed to have 10,000 people trying to take a leak at the same time.

      • NickL89

        Agreed. I was at game one of the Boston/Carolina series this year and was blown away at how bad the bathroom situation was! My girlfriend was able to do her business and get us some food within 10 minutes. I spent the whole intermission and first 3 minutes of the second period in line. It’s not bad here as people say lol

  • Spaceman Spiff

    It’s pretty hard to be critical of this. Even if he’s in charge of the “business” side of the operations, Anselmi is an outsider and that seems to be very much in-vogue in the organization right now. Kevin Lowe hasn’t been involved in the hockey side for years but there are many among us in the fandom who are convinced he’s pulling the strings. I have no idea how this affects Lowe’s job, but I have to believe it would. Even if it doesn’t, it’s hard to argue with the optics, never mind Anselmi’s credentials.

    I can’t claim to know corporate infrastructure well enough to know if a move from CEO to chairman is a promotion or a lateral move, but as Baggedmilk alludes, it does certainly suggest that Nicholson could have a clearer path out of the organization, or at the very least, more “focused” (read: less) responsibility in it.

    I guess we’ll find out from the presser how this all works.

    • Torgerson

      Can we stop with conspiracy theories about Kevin Lowe? He’s on the non-hockey side now. Chiarelli was more than fully capable of screwing up the team on his own – in fact one of his downfalls was that he insulated himself and made boneheaded decisions by acting alone without running ideas by anyone else.

      • Spaceman Spiff

        I agree with you re: Lowe. I’ve never been in the camp that believed that he had anything to do with the hockey moves that were made after he moved away from the hockey side. But my point is that there are those who believed that he did (or still believe that he does).

        • CMG30

          People are misinterpreting the animosity to Lowe et. al.

          Nobody thinks that KL and company were hiding behind the curtains in dark overcoats in the GM’s office and when the GM leaves for the day they sneak out and forge signatures on a bunch of stupid trades. The real problem folks had with the OBC is the kind of ‘soft power’ they exerted in shaping how the front office viewed the game and how a team should be built.

          When the consensus and water cooler talk is how analytics is stupid and the intimidation factor of players is what really matters so the rest of the NHL is stupid for valuing speed and skill, a self reinforcing echo chamber results. Folks don’t get hired unless they say the right things and staff who disagree either leave of their own accord or are forced out. When several of those front office folks have a direct line to the owner and his respect, it becomes even more difficult to be a dissenting voice, even as a GM. This leads to an organization that keeps doing the same stupid things time and time again. Sound familiar?

          I would say that PC isolating himself is actually an acknowledgement that there was something in the air that he needed to escape from. This is reinforced again and again with the few rumors that make it out. Like ‘red wine summits’ or when Bob fired Chirelli and kept talking about how they needed a new guy who ‘gets the Oilers culture’ What he’s really saying is that they wanted someone who views the game the way they all do so will run things the way the hive mind thinks it should be run.

          Kevin Lowe is a figurehead that gets held up as a stand in for the entire front office. He alone is/was not the problem but you cannot have a nuanced conversation without wasting a ton of time and effort with every post. If Holland was smart, he’d sweep clean the front office while his stock is at the highest.

  • CMG30

    Meh. For fans this doesn’t mean much. I wonder what the business communities take is on this. There have been rumblings in the past how the organization has been difficult to deal with in a business sense. I wonder how much truth there is to this and how these guys may change that?

  • Boba The Fett

    My biggest hope is this hire effects the in game presentation which has been horrible since the new building opened. Everything from the game intro to tv timeouts and the egregious sponsorship giveaways have made games unbearable. I really hope Tom can change these items to make games more enjoyable.

  • Derzie

    Chairman is a position that is further away from day to day. That’s a good thing. It can be influential when circumstances are right, but in general this takes Bob away from our TV screens and we are better for it.

  • SlovakOiler

    “With Bob leading our hockey clubs and Tom leading our business operations we have a powerhouse combination as we continue to build an elite organization in all aspects of what we do.”
    Yeah, except hockey…