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Bill Scott Goes From Tending the Farm to Assistant GM

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

Bill Scott has always had the goal of reaching the NHL.

That dream came to fruition on Monday morning as the Edmonton Oilers announced that Scott would become the team’s new Assistant General Manager, replacing Ricky Olczyk.

"I would like to welcome Bill and his family to Edmonton,” Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said in a press release following the announcement. “Bill has done an exceptional job managing all facets of the Barons day-to-day operations and has played a large part in their success over the past four years."

Scott started as a student manager with the Spartans hockey team at Michigan State University, where he graduated with a degree in Business Management. He interned under Predators Executive Vice President and General Manager David Poile in Nashville and then moved on to work in the ECHL, then served as Director of Hockey Operations for the American Hockey League. He has since spent the past four seasons as the general manager of the Oilers’ farm team in the AHL, the Oklahoma City Barons.

Photo by Steven Christy/OKC Barons

“Obviously, I’m very excited,” Scott said. “I’m very humbled about the opportunity that Craig has given me here with the Oilers, a wonderful organization. I’ve just really enjoyed the last four years here in Oklahoma City, the support that we’ve been given from up top and now for the opportunity to join the Oilers in Edmonton and to get to work closer with our hockey management team there, it’s just really an exciting time for our family and looking forward to the next step in my personal career.”

It has been a long and yet quick journey to the Oilers front office for Scott. At just 33 years-old, Scott makes the jump from the AHL to the NHL in a prominent position with an organization that knows him well. Scott says he’s been the beneficiary of some well-placed and well-timed career moves and opportunities thus far in his career, all along the path that has led to Edmonton.

“You certainly can never predict these things and timing seems to be everything in this business,” Scott said. “It’s one of those things where you’re just blessed with the right opportunities by good people. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some great people at Michigan State, being able to do an internship with the Nashville Predators right out of college, David Poile was good to me there. I’ve had good bosses both with the ECHL and the American Hockey League and then with the Oilers in Oklahoma City. Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time and try and put your head down and do good work and hope to get noticed that way and be loyal to the people that you’re working for and sometimes things have a way of working out. I’ve been really fortunate on that side of things to get opportunities like that as they are few and far between. I feel very blessed that those opportunities have come my way and I’ve been able to take advantage of them.”

The Unionville, Ontario native now returns to his home country to further his career, an exciting time for the man who has spent the past four years tending the farm for the Oilers.

“It’s always been a goal of mine certainly for a number of years that I wanted to work in management for an NHL team. For this opportunity to come up to work for the Edmonton Oilers, a Canadian team being a Canadian myself, it obviously means a little bit more that way and certainly with the history of the Oilers organization and the bright future that we have ahead. I just think the timing is wonderful and I’m really looking forward to what we have to come here. I think we’re just about to turn the tide here and head in the right direction and we’ve got a lot of good players coming, we’ve seen them here in Oklahoma City over the last few years and we’re really excited about the future.”

Photo provided by Rob Ferguson

Scott replaces Olczyk, whom the Oilers say was offered a position within the organization but has ‘respectfully declined the offer at this time’. In Scott, the Oilers get someone who has familiarity with the organization and has worked closely with the management staff over the last few years.

“Certainly over the last four years, we’ve been doing a lot of work together,” Scott said. “We’ve been doing a lot of work together here. On a daily basis, we’re talking to management in Edmonton to give an update on our prospects, looking at lineups, players we see across the league, players in the ECHL so there is a very close relationship with the management team in Edmonton and I just expect that to continue. We’ll dive into different things, certainly my job description is going to change but to be working in the same office, having a little closer relationship, we work very well together, I’ve been really happy with how everything has gone this year too under the new management team with Craig and Scott involved now as well, we’ve had a great relationship. I think that hopefully this move will help the Oilers and in some way bring more success to the team and hopefully I can be a small part in that.”

By adding Scott to the mix, MacTavish is also gaining someone with a similar vision for the direction of the organization. Scott says he and MacTavish hit it off right away and see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues surrounding the club.

“We hit it off right away,” Scott said. “I had a little bit of a relationship prior to Craig coming back on board last season with them. We meshed very well. I think we see things the same way, we’re both very positive people, we believe that the future is bright and I really appreciate that he’s a man of action. We’ve obviously seen that over the year with the number of trades and roster moves he’s made trying to improve the team. I think that’s terrific, that’s what we need to be doing right now and he’s done a great job with that. He’s been very supportive of everything we’ve done here. I think player-wise, we have very similar views on what we need in Edmonton, very similar assessments in the sense of what we can get out of our players here in Oklahoma City and what they can do to be of value in the future. He’s an open-minded guy and that’s a good thing. He’s willing to take on different opinions and different thoughts and think outside the box. He’s one of those guys who’s going to exhaust all avenues just to try and find a way to make the team better and I think that’s terrific and you can’t ask for anything more than that if you’re going to work for him or play for him as a player. He’s been very supportive of what we’ve done here, of our staff. He’s a terrific person, a man of integrity and he’s just been great to us so we’ve been very happy with the relationship.”

Scott’s main duties in Oklahoma City revolved around maintaining contact with MacTavish and the rest of the Oilers decision makers. He provided updates on prospects, their performance, development, health and talent on a daily basis. He provided assessment and information on who might be the best fit for call ups and he mined the ECHL for talent while assessing other team’s players in the AHL as well.

Photo by Steven Christy/OKC Barons

With Edmonton, Scott’s responsibilities will include contract negotiations for players and staff, scheduling, salary arbitration, salary cap management and other administrative duties. These responsibilities are all too familiar to Scott from his time in Oklahoma City.

“We’re managing staff as well, managing players, there’s some contract negotiations as well at this level, not as much as the NHL level but we certainly do have our AHL contracts here as well and then there’s a lot of logistics things as well. It’s a great job to have. There’s been some good AHL general managers that have gone on to great success in NHL jobs and it’s a great place to kind of learn the business a little bit, learn how to manage people and players and then hopefully move up in your career.”

Scott will also serve as the Oilers’ liaison to the NHL for matters pertaining to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

During Scott’s time with the Barons, the team has made the playoffs for four straight seasons, there have been developmental successes in players like Martin Marincin and the organization did well with an ECHL acquisition of Mark Arcobello. Scott says there have been positives and successes but it’s not on the general manager alone to take the credit. He also says the atmosphere created in Oklahoma City, in resurrecting a development program for the Oilers, was the biggest success to date for the Barons.

“I don’t think you can ever talent one player or any scenario like that as a win for yourself. There’s so many people that watch these players, the coaches, your training staff, everybody invests heavily into our players right from scouting them the first time. I don’t think there’s really any individual wins that way but certainly I think we’re very proud, as a staff here in Oklahoma City, of making the playoffs four years in a row and really coming from behind the last two years to do that. Our coaching staff has done a great job, our players have done a great job to come together as a group. I think being a part of the atmosphere down here that we’ve been able to create with our head coach and our staff, that’s probably the biggest win. For it to be a great place for players to play, for them to be excited to come to work every day and to come to the rink even though they know they’re going to get worked hard, that they enjoy being here and they want to win, they want to win for each other and for the staff and it’s just one family atmosphere down here and I think that’s really the biggest thing that’s what has bred our success over time.”

That atmosphere created in Oklahoma City is something Scott says reflects his own management style. He hopes to bring those qualities along with hard work and success to the big club.

“I like to think that my management style is one where we help create a family atmosphere, bring people together and show people you really care for them and you have their best interests in mind. That’s one thing I’ll certainly do. I’m a hard-working guy, I want to make the organization better every day and that’s got to be our goal every day, that we’re coming to work and in this business it’s obviously a year-round deal. We’re going to put our heads down and go to work and get the Oilers better each and every day. That’s the goal that we’re going to set out to do and that’s something that I’m going to bring. There’s a lot of great people out there in the business and I think we all have our own individual nuances to bring positive things to each organization. We’re just going to work hard and keep going, keep going in the right direction for this team. I think we’ve got a lot of assets here in Oklahoma City, I’ve got a lot of knowledge of the American League and the ECHL as well, which now we have our team in Bakersfield too. Through and through the organization I’m going to be able to help, certainly on depth and players coming around the American League that could be good targets for the future.”

Scott will remain with the Barons throughout their playoff run before making the move to Edmonton. The goal is still to win a Calder Cup as a general manager at that level. However, Scott will begin work right away to transition to his new post as the off-season will begin to heat up very quickly.

“I would like to get up to Edmonton as quickly as possible (after the season),” he said. “We’re going to start digging into things right away, even while I’m doing the Barons job here and start to get to work. We’ve got amateur meetings in a couple of weeks, scouting meetings, then we’ll have some pro scouting meetings and things like that. I’m going to have my hands involved in both things at this time and get my feet wet with more of the Oilers day-to-day operations as we go into the draft, free agency, contract negotiations and things like that. There’s certainly going to be a little transition period while we’re in the playoffs here but it’ll be full speed ahead.”

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