Would the Edmonton Oilers hiring Steve Staios as their next General Manager be an Old Boys Club move?

By Woz
10 months ago
With Steve Staios’s name seemingly being circled as the next general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, are we seeing the franchise go back to the Old Boys Club? Not necessarily.
While it’s easy to be worried about the Oilers hiring a former player based on how that’s gone for them in the past. Staios is different, because he’s not being brought on board for being a former player. He’s being brought on because of merit.
Staios has been honing his craft as a team executive as soon as he retired as a player back in 2012. He first joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as a Player Development Advisor in the 2012-2013 season. He then spent a little bit of time behind the bench for the team in 2014-2015 before taking on the massive role as President and GM of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL in 2015-2016. There he was responsible for negotiating contracts, hiring coaches, and ultimately building a competitive hockey club.
Winning the OHL Championship twice in seven years and being named OHL General Manager of the Year in 2022 isn’t an achievement to scoff at. It requires patience, hard work, and of course, a smart hockey mind to make that happen. His front-office successes and experience were good enough that the Oilers took notice and brought him on as a Special Advisor to the GM this past season.
Identity is a big part of Staios’s philosophy as GM. In a recent interview with Tom Gazzola and Shawn Belle on TSN 1260 he went over his mindset sitting in the chair.
“The team that we acquired to come from Belleville, and we had a good team but they didn’t have an identity so we really started digging in on the actual person, you know the athlete, the character, and also with our staff as well.”
“We looked at from a hockey perspective, Beller, we were character and then we were hockey sense. We wanted smart hockey players and started to really build up and then start looking at some of the other attributes down the line from a skills set perspective. But overall it was about the people, the environment.”
Steve also mentions you can’t get complacent about the culture. Emphasizing the importance of communication within the culture. Making sure everyone in the organization is heard and valued. His standards are high and evidently, it worked during his time in Hamilton.
Now, Steady Steve is taking the opportunity to learn from one of the most successful general managers in NHL history, Ken Holland. In his season-end availability, Holland did mention how Staios should do more as if he was an assistant GM.
By the sounds of it Steve’s role will include going to games and being a scout.
“Assistant Managers go to games, they go to pro games, they go to NHL games, they go to American League games and he’s the right-hand man in the decision-making process or one of the right-hand men.”
Holland clearly values Staios’s experience, and knowledge and possibly wants him to be his successor. Now that’s tough to determine as Keith Gretzky, Bill Scott, and Brad Holland are the current Assistant General Managers. One of these three and Staios will likely be General Manager when Ken decides his time is up. For him, that’s a decision he’d prefer not to focus on for another 12 months as he believes he has unfinished business with the Oilers.
Putting Steve Staios in the “Old Boys Club” just doesn’t make much sense. He was away from the organization for nearly a decade and in that time he’s gained a wealth of experience as an executive and continued to learn in each position he’s earned and that’s exactly what’s happening. If he becomes the future Oilers GM he earned it, not gifted it. In my opinion, that’s not the definition of the Old Boys Club. Being gifted a role just because you were close to the organization or you were part of a dynasty so you clearly know how to win.
Hiring former players isn’t just an Oilers move. We see it all around the league and one good example is Joe Sakic. He made the jump to the NHL instantly in the executive world by becoming a Senior Advisor for the Colorado Avalanche in 2011-2012. Then became Executive VP of Hockey Operations in 13-14 and eventually GM the following year.
He didn’t spend seven years managing a junior team before taking an NHL job. What form of experience did he have before taking on that role? None compared to someone like Staios. Eventually, Sakic would build a Stanley Cup Champion and is a shining example of how success with former players does exist.
Time will only tell if Steve Staios can translate all that he’s done to the NHL level. However, there’s proof he knows hows to build a winner. And in junior, it’s rather impressive considering you don’t have the same resources as a team in the National Hockey League would have. One thing’s for certain, if the Edmonton Oilers ever want to promote him as General Manager, he’ll be more than ready.

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