A former member of the Ottawa Senators’ executive team is coming back to the organization where she starred for nearly two decades.
Erin Crowe, who spent 18 years with the NHL club and eventually became its executive vice-president and chief financial officer before leaving in 2015, told OBJ Wednesday she’ll be returning to those roles with the Senators in February.
“I’m going back to my roots,” said Crowe, 50, who has been CFO of Kanata software firm Martello Technologies since 2018.
While acknowledging that it was a “really tough decision” to exit one of the city’s fastest-growing tech companies, the Ottawa native said she couldn’t resist the chance to re-enter her favourite business arena – pro sports.
“I’ve always had an affinity for the Senators,” she said. “I kind of grew up there in my career, and it’s an organization that is really an important part of the city. It’s part of our DNA.”
"I kind of grew up there in my career, and it’s an organization that is really an important part of the city. It’s part of our DNA."
After working in a variety of industries – including stints as CFO of real estate firm Regional Group and waterslide manufacturer ProSlide Technology – since leaving her hometown hockey team, Crowe said she’s a more seasoned, well-rounded executive today than she was in her first go-round with the Sens.
“Working with different people, doing some different things, seeing different ways of doing things, you hope that some of those things you can bring back and sort of add to the pot,” she explained.
“I hope I can bring some of the things I’ve learned in that time back to bear there and just have a positive influence.”
At Martello, Crowe was a key leader of an executive team that took the fledgling company public three years ago and embarked on an ambitious growth campaign that saw the firm acquire a pair of European companies and raise tens of millions of dollars through public share offerings.
“Erin was instrumental in leading Martello's most critical transactions, including our public listing on the TSXV, and in building a strong finance team,” CEO John Proctor said in a statement. “We wish her every success in the future.”
Now, the Queen’s University commerce grad faces a whole new set of challenges.
Crowe is returning to an organization that’s had more than its share of upheaval in the executive suite over the past few years.
Since 2017, the Senators have parted ways with two CEOs, Jim Little and Tom Anselmi, as well as a number of other top C-suite leaders such as former president and team co-founder Cyril Leeder, chief operating officer Nicolas Ruszkowski and chief marketing officer Aimee Deziel.
Meanwhile, the team has struggled on the ice and at the gate. The Senators currently sit dead last in the NHL standings and are second-last in overall attendance, drawing an average of just 11,352 fans per game – or less than 60 per cent of capacity – to the Canadian Tire Centre.
Still, Crowe seems unfazed.
She said president of business operations Anthony LeBlanc, who joined the club in early 2020, has brought stability to the organization and has it heading in the right direction despite a rocky stretch that also saw potential plans for a new arena at LeBreton Flats fall through amid legal wrangling between team owner Eugene Melnyk and former business partner John Ruddy.
LeBlanc recently told an Ottawa business gathering the team is looking to enhance the in-game experience with plans for live networking spaces and more local food vendors in a bid to lure back disenchanted fans.
He also stressed that the club is strictly following all public health protocols and offering touchless transactions in an effort to ease the minds of fans who are still uncertain about attending mass gatherings in the wake of COVID-19.
Crowe said she’s looking forward to returning to her old stomping grounds under LeBlanc’s leadership.
“It feels to me like it’s a good time to go back and hopefully be part of a strong team going forward,” she said. “I think they’re making the right decisions now, and I think there’s a bright future there. The building blocks are well in place.”
It’s unclear whether current chief financial officer Gregg Olson, who was hired last December, will remain with the organization. The Senators did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Wednesday.