Bob Nicholson is almost 70 by now so he’s probably right on the cusp of retiring in the next couple of years. As such – and I just learned this today – the Oilers have done some front-office shuffling as a transition plan to make for Nicholson’s smooth departure from the Oilers once his retirement day comes.
From 2019 until this past June Nicholson was the Chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, overseeing the hockey operations of all of owner Daryl Katz’s hockey clubs – the Oilers, Condors, Oil Kings, and Fort Wayne Komets. He was the top man in hockey operations and everyone reported to him, while he was accountable only to owner Daryl Katz.
Well since June Nicholson has stepped away from that role and has now stepped into what I assume is a lower responsibility role as special advisor and alternate governor, of hockey operations.
Nicholson may be most famous to Oilers fans as the man who headed Hockey Canada for the longest time and did testify in the sexual assault scandal, although it was worth noting he’d left to work for the Oilers by the time that news came out.
He also took point on hiring the last two GMs for the Oilers – Peter Chiarelli, which had mixed results, and current GM Ken Holland, who has turned the Oilers into the Cup-contending franchise they are now. He also moved the outgoing GM of the day in 2015 – Craig Mactavish – into the number two GM man, a position he later left to go back to being a head coach in the KHL.
After Chiarelli was fired assistant GM Keith Gretzky took over as interim GM until Ken Holland was hired.
It was also confirmed that Ken Holland will remain as GM of the club. There were persistent rumours that Holland would retire from his position, stay with the club as an advisor, and the Oilers would promote an internal option to GM, either Steve Staios or Keith Gretzky if rumours were true. However, this will not be an issue at least for this offseason.
Anyway, taking Nicholson’s old position will be former player agent Jeff Jackson, who will assume Nicholson’s old post under a different title – CEO, hockey operations and alternate governor. There will be an introductory press conference later on today that will no doubt be made available on Oilers+ for those of you who subscribe like me where Jackson will lay out his vision on where he wants to steer the Oilers. Somehow I doubt he’ll make major changes to the team considering how well it’s been doing the last couple of seasons.
Jackson might be most well known as Connor Mcdavid’s former player agent, which he held until he assumed this post – some random VP from the same agency will be taking over as Mcdavid’s agent, and that guy also apparently represents Auston Matthews.
This will be Jackson’s second stint as an NHL executive – he was previously assistant GM and director of hockey operations for the Maple Laffs from 2006-2010 when he left to form the aforementioned player agency. During his time with the Leafs he was also the GM of the Leaf’s farm team, the Toronto Marlies.
When I took a look at the coaches and management section of the Oilers website, I was also surprised to see that as of 2022 Paul Coffey had ascended to the post of Special Advisor to Owner and Chairman.
He had previously been a skills and coaching advisor to the team a few years back.
Considering the allegations of nepotism that had dogged the Oilers during the decade of darkness, I’m not surprised they kept the hiring of Coffey or his promotion under wraps. He’s working closely with owner Daryl Katz and the rest of the Oilers executives on the strategic direction of the hockey team.