Like all of us, it hits Bob Nicholson from every side these days.
The chairman of the Edmonton Oilers is watching as the National Hockey League seeks a financial path that makes sense to begin play the 2020-21 season. The International Ice Hockey Federation, of which he is a vice-president, has cancelled most of its events and will soon enter the great unknown of a bubbled world juniors here in Edmonton, fingers crossed.
Personally, Nicholson got off a plane from Zurich, Switzerland and tested negative at the Calgary airport. But no sooner had he arrived home in Edmonton that the phone rang and an IIHF colleague had tested positive. To the clinic, he went, to be tested again.
There are, for all of us, a series of tests these days, both real and metaphorical. For Nicholson, they come in many forms in a business that sits latent, with millions of dollars going out and no revenues coming in.
“It’s really tough,” he admits. “All the various expenses, staffing… It’s really tough on people. We’ve really reduced our staff. That’s the toughest thing, because you’re affecting families.
“On the digital side. In sales. A lot in ticketing, and also a lot on the marketing side,” he said of layoffs at the Oilers Entertainment Group. “We haven’t had a lot of cuts in human resources and finance, but those people are just working so many hours. So the people who are working are working harder than they’ve ever worked — and they’re on rollback. Where’s that life balance that we always talk about?”
Balance. Remember balance?