An offseason of actual change has arrived for fans of the Edmonton Oilers. After yet another disappointing season spent in the NHL's basement, it appears that Oilers owner Daryl Katz has decided that he has had enough and has given the green light to make changes.
On April 21 Assistant GM Rick Olzyck left the organization after he being offered reassignment rather than be brought back as the club's AGM. As the team's supposed capologist and CBA expert, Olzyck oversaw a number of gaffes involving the salary cap and player movement. The most embarrassing of these incidents was in the 2009-10 season where the Oilers publicly stumbled over the question of Gilbert Brule's waiver eligibility status. The Oilers quickly promoted Oklahoma City Barons GM Bill Scott as his replacement. Scott has overseen four successful seasons for the Barons where the team has made 4 playoff appearances, won one divisional title, and has made two Western Conference finals appearances.
Next up came the coaching staff. Since Head Coach Dallas Eakins was hired last offseason, questions came up about how much control he had over who his Assistant Coaches were. This is because, while the Oilers had hired Keith Acton as the Associate, long time Assistants Steve Smith, Frederic Chabot, and Teflon Bucky were kept on staff. This changed this week when Buchberger was transferred into an advisory role within the organization, and was replaced by the experienced Craig Ramsay. Now it appears that Chabot and Smith may see a similar fate.
And now we are at the most significant change of this offseason. At 10:00 AM today Rexall Sports held a press conference to announce a reorganization of the Oilers organization. The most significant of these is the hiring of former Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson as Vice Chairman of the new Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG). OEG essentially replaces Rexall Sports within the Katz Group of Companies and will manage the various Katz-owned sports properties as well as Rogers Place; an Edmonton version of MLSE. Adding Nicholson is a solid hire, and should add decades of hockey executive experience to the organization, including the many connections that he has made through Hockey Canada over the years.
Now where does this leave President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe? Well he has been named to the other Vice Chair position and will still "play a leadership role" within hockey operations, much to the chagrin of those that wanted to see him transitioned into another capacity within the organization. Essentially his title changed but the job description has remained the same.
As the summer continues, expect to see more changes to come. Maybe even a reorgaization of the pro and amateur scouting departments.