Jackson: “Best in Class”

Robin Brownlee
10 months ago
Jeff Jackson has been the Edmonton Oilers’ CEO of hockey operations for just over a month, but he’s already made three substantial moves since leaving his player agency days behind Aug. 3 and taking over as GM Ken Holland’s boss. Simply put, Connor McDavid’s former rep isn’t tip-toeing around.
After taking a couple of weeks to get settled, Jackson brought in Rick Pracey from the Philadelphia Flyers Aug. 22 to take over from Tyler Wright as his chief amateur scout. Pracey, 52, worked 13 years with the Colorado Avalanche, including six seasons as director of amateur scouting before joining Philly in 2014.
Tuesday, the Oilers announced the promotion of Noah Segall to video coach as a replacement for Jeremy Coupal, with whom he worked last season as video co-ordinator. Coupal and the Oilers parted ways in July. In addition, the Oilers announced the hiring of Mike Fanelli as video and coaching analytics co-ordinator.
Fanelli worked four seasons, 2017-2021, in analytics with the Tampa Bay Lighting and was part of two Stanley Cup winners with the Bolts. His hiring — ambiguous job title aside – suggests that Jackson wants to build out and establish his team’s analytics department, which has been light compared to many teams. It hasn’t been a priority in past regimes.


Photo: NHL.com
We already know Jackson, who started Wasserman Hockey in 2010, is a sharp guy. And it’s not like his understanding of what’s happening here started when the Oilers hired him. It goes back to before the Oilers selected McDavid in the 2015 Entry Draft – aside from having the captain as a client, Jackson has watched every one of Edmonton’s games since then. Jackson talked about the moves he’s made with Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer on Tuesday.
“Anytime you take one of these jobs you have to feel super-comfortable with the relationship,” Jackson said. “I didn’t really know Tyler at all. I know he has a long history with Ken both in Detroit and then here. Rick Pracey is a guy that I’ve known for a long time. I know his work in Colorado. I know his work in Philadelphia . . . 
“The thing I like about Rick is he’s very organized. He’s very professional. He’s a very good communicator, collaborative, and progressive. Those are the things that are important to me to have as a culture in the organization.
“So, I just felt with Rick being available, which is fortunate on our part given the circumstances in Philadelphia with the changing of GMs, he would have probably been their chief amateur scout or in the upper-echelon of their scouting staff if it has not been for those managerial changes. The opportunity was there, and I was going to take it.”


As for the hiring of Fanelli, increasing the team’s focus on analytics and how that might play out with the Oilers in win-now mode, a couple comments caught my ear. 
“There’s a list of things to look at very carefully,” Jackson said. “Looking at how the team uses analytics, building that department into something a little bit more substantial, but again, I did say, I want the Oilers to be best in class in everything we do.
“We have two of the best players in the world. We have a lot of really great leaders in that room. It’s incumbent on management to do everything well so that we have a long run here. It might be win-now, but I think we want to be in a position to compete now every single year. In order to do that, you have to have all the other areas being strong foundational pieces.”

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