Sens beef up C-suite with new hires, sign business boss to long-term deal

Anthony LeBlanc
The Senators have signed president of business operations Anthony LeBlanc to a long-term contract. File photo

The Ottawa Senators’ front-office makeover continues as the NHL club said Tuesday it’s officially brought three more former members of the Arizona Coyotes’ C-suite into its fold.

Gregg Olson, who previously spent nearly six years in the desert as the Coyotes’ chief financial officer and chief administrative officer, has been named the Senators’ new CFO, the team said in a news release.

He’s joined in Ottawa by Olson’s former Arizona colleague Tom Hoof. Hoof takes on the position of vice-president of marketing with the Senators after spending the past three years in a similar role with the Coyotes. 

Meanwhile, the Senators also announced that another former member of the Phoenix-based franchise’s front office, Jeff Morander, has officially been named the team’s executive vice-president of ticket sales and service. Morander previously served nearly seven years as Arizona’s executive VP of ticket sales and strategy.

According to their LinkedIn profiles, Hoof and Morander have been serving in their new roles since July, although the team just announced their hirings on Tuesday.

Business boss's deal extended

It was a busy day for the Senators, who also announced that president of business operations Anthony LeBlanc, who joined the club in late April, has inked a long-term contract extension.

LeBlanc spent nearly four years as chief executive of the Coyotes from 2013-17 and most recently was CEO of Schooners Sports and Entertainment, a group that’s trying to land a Canadian Football League expansion franchise for the Halifax area. He’ll also be Ottawa’s alternate governor on the NHL’s board of directors.

“I am excited to be adding three very experienced sports executives to our front office team along with having Anthony in place to lead our business operations for the long-term,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in a statement. 

“We had a very productive off-season building our club on the ice. At the same time, we strengthened our management team to ensure our plans for success off the ice and in our community are realized.”

The new hires bring decades of pro sports experience to the Senators’ executive team. 

Before moving to Arizona, Olson spent nearly a decade as executive vice-president and CFO of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. He previously worked for more than eight years in similar roles in the San Jose Sharks organization and began his pro sports career as VP of finance with Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians in 1985.

Hoof, meanwhile, served in various marketing roles with the University of South Florida and MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays before spending eight years as a partner in a Tampa-area marketing firm.

Morander has also worked in multiple major leagues, beginning with a brief stint with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings in 2006-07. He later joined the NHL’s front office as a VP of ticketing strategy before becoming the league’s VP of events.

Years of upheaval

The shakeup follows several years of upheaval in the Senators’ front office.

In January, CEO Jim Little was hired to help turn the struggling franchise around, but Little’s tenure lasted less than two months before he was fired in early March for what the Senators called conduct “inconsistent” with the core values of the team. LeBlanc was brought in April to replace him.

But the door to the Sens’ C-suite actually began revolving well before this year.

Since 2017, the franchise has parted ways with CEOs Little and Tom Anselmi, president Cyril Leeder, chief operating officer Nicolas Ruszkowski and chief marketing officer Aimee Deziel.

The turnover in the organization’s executive ranks comes during a stretch when the Senators have struggled on and off the ice.

Ottawa ranked last in the 31-team NHL in attendance last season before play was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis. The club was averaging just 12,618 fans per game, less than 66 per cent of capacity at the Canadian Tire Centre.

The Sens have asked fans for “patience” as the team rebuilds and said they have been focusing on “customized” experiences to help sell ticket packages to the business crowd and other loyal supporters.

– With files from the Canadian Press