POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.21.2015 / 11:01 AM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers ECHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals named Eric Veilleux as head coach for the upcoming season. From the Admirals press release:

The Norfolk Admirals, the Oilers ECHL affiliate, announce today that the team has named Eric Veilleux head coach for the upcoming season. The Admirals have also named Ben Boudreau as assistant coach to serve alongside Veilleux.
Eric Veilleux coached the Shawinigan Cataractes to the 2012 Memorial Cup (Getty Images)
Edmonton Oilers Assistant General Manager Bill Scott says, "We are thrilled to announce Eric Veilleux will join our organization as Head Coach of our ECHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. Eric has an outstanding coaching history as a Head Coach in the QMJHL, where he not only had successful teams, but he developed individual players and prepared them for professional hockey."

Veilleux, 43, makes his professional head coaching debut after nine seasons at the helm in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and one as assistant coach of the Admirals in 2014-15. Veilleux led the Shawinigan Cataractes to a Memorial Cup championship as the host in 2012 before moving on to Norfolk in 2014 following two seasons as bench boss of Baie-Comeau Drakkar. The Quebec City native compiled a 347-208-45 record and led his teams to the postseason in all nine campaigns during his QMJHL tenure.
A 5-foot-7, 148-pound forward in his playing days, Veilleux skated in 601 career games in three leagues and three different countries. He made 517 combined appearances in the AHL with the Cornwall Aces, Hershey Bears, Kentucky Thoroughblades, and Lowell Lock Monsters.
He skated in nine games in the Finnish SM-Liiga during the 1998-99 season, but returned to the United States for the 1999-2000 campaign in which he played 73 contests for the Manitoba Moose of the International Hockey League (IHL). Veilleux concluded his professional career in 2001, retiring with 106 goals, 174 assists, 280 points, and 850 penalty minutes.    
Boudreau, 30, comes to Hampton Roads for his second season as a coach in professional hockey. The St. Catharine's, Ontario local was an assistant coach for the Bakersfield Condors in 2014-15 after a two-year playing career.   
The Norfolk Admirals open the 2015-16 regular season at home versus the Wheeling Nailers on October 16 at 7:30 p.m. Admirals' 10-pack tickets for the 2015-16 season are on sale and start at $125. Visit the Admirals Administrative Office at Scope or click on the 'Tickets' tab at to purchase. Season tickets are available for purchase as well and begin at $400. Call 757-640-1212 for more information.
POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.21.2015 / 10:01 AM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

The Bakersfield Condors have named Gerry Fleming as the head coach of their squad as it enters its first season in the AHL. From the official Condors press release:

J-F Houle and Tony Borgford to serve as assistant coaches; staff announced
The Bakersfield Condors, of the American Hockey League (AHL) and owned by the Edmonton Oilers, announced today that Gerry Fleming has been named the team's head coach. In addition, Jean-François (J-F) Houle and Tony Borgford have been named assistant coaches. Oilers Assistant General Manager Bill Scott will serve as the Condors general manager.

Other members of the hockey operations staff announced were Head Athletic Trainer Josh Bennett, Head Equipment Manager Al Oman, and Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Patrick Love.
"We are thrilled to announce our hockey operations staff, led by Head Coach Gerry Fleming, who will be a tremendous leader in Bakersfield. Gerry's attention to detail and ability to develop our young players made him a natural fit to return as head coach, By adding JF Houle as assistant coach and with the return of Assistant Coach Tony Borgford, we believe we have a tremendous coaching staff ready to take the Condors to the next level."

GERRY FLEMING (48 years old, from Montreal, Quebec)
    Head Coach Gerry Fleming (right) and Assistant Tony Borgford (left) will be joined by J-F Houle on the Bakersfield Condors coaching staff in 2015-16 (photo by Steven Christy/OKC Barons)
  • Replaced Todd Nelson as head coach in Oklahoma City (AHL) last season on December15, 2014 and posted a 26-21-3-1 (.549) record, leading the Barons to their fifth straight postseason appearance.
  • Took the Barons to the second round after sweeping San Antonio in the Calder Cup Playoffs before falling in Game 7 to the eventual Western Conference Champions, Utica Comets.
  • Served as an assistant coach for the Oilers AHL team since 2008-09, both in Springfield (2008-10) and Oklahoma City (2010-2014), prior to taking over as head coach last season.
  • Spent eight seasons as a head coach in the ECHL from 2000-2008, with Tallahassee and most notably with the Florida Everblades from 2001-2008.
  • Posted an overall record of 282-162-60 (.619) with Florida including back-to-back Kelly Cup Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005.
  • Began his coaching career as an assistant coach in the AHL with Fredericton (1998-99) and Quebec (1999-2000) under current Montreal Canadiens Head Coach Michel Therrien.
  • As a player, played seven seasons in the AHL with Fredericton and earned a call-up to Montreal on two occasions which totaled 11 games in the NHL.

J-F HOULE (40 years old, from Charlesbourg, Quebec)
  • Head coach of the 2014-15 ECHL Bakersfield Condors
  • Compiled four consecutive 40-win seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with Lewiston and Blainville-Boisbriand
  • Previously an assistant coach at his alma mater, Clarkson (NY) University, from 2003-2010.
  • As a player, he played under Fleming twice. Once, in Fredericton in 1998-99 where Fleming was an assistant coach. Second, in 2000-01, where he captained Fleming's team in Tallahassee.

TONY BORGFORD (40 years old, from Regina, Saskatchewan)
  • Joined the Oilers organization last season as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Barons.
  • Worked three seasons with the NHL's Winnipeg Jets as a video coordinator/coach from 2011-2014.
  • Was a video coordinator with the Atlanta Thrashers for eight seasons, from 1999 until the team relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.
  • Played four seasons at Mercyhurst (Penn.) College from 1995-1999
  • Al Oman (Head Equipment Manager) enters his 4th season with the Oilers organization. Josh Bennett, ATC (Head Athletic Trainer) enters his 3rd season and Patrick Love (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) enters his 2nd campaign.
  • Oman, originally from Florida, becomes the head equipment manager after serving as an assistant with the Barons.
  • Bennett, from Maine, holds a Master's degree in Physical Education from Winthrop University.
  • Love holds a Master's degree in Wellness Management - Exercise Science from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Fleming, Houle, and Borgford will be formally introduced to the public and media next week. Details on the event will follow.
Join the Condors on their historic move to the American Hockey League in 2015-16. Become a ticket member and enjoy all of the great benefits by contacting the Condors at 324-PUCK (7825) or click here for more information.
POSTED ON Monday, 07.20.2015 / 3:26 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

His smirk is legendary. Former Oilers Head Coach and General Manager Glen Sather always had a confidence about him. That just so happened to be what the Hall of Famer passed on to his teams as well. The Oilers of the 80’s are a perfect example.

“He really instilled a belief in us,” said former Oilers defenceman Kevin Lowe. “A concept to believe that you’re good, to believe that you can be the best. I think back to the early days playing the likes of the Montreal Canadiens, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Boston Bruins, the New York Islanders, and he really emphasized that, ‘you guys can be every bit as good as these guys. You can be as good as the great, legendary Canadiens, and you will be.’

“It’s one thing to say that you can, but he always had a great deal of swagger and confidence and when he said, ‘you will be,’ we believed it.”

POSTED ON Monday, 07.20.2015 / 3:24 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

It was only a matter of time before Glen Sather saw his name raised into the rafters in Edmonton. The long-time player, coach and general manager will see his banner raised in Rexall Place at a game against the Rangers on December 11.

The wait was due to Sather’s tenure in New York as GM. He stepped down from that post on July 1.

“Never in doubt,” said Vice Chair of Oilers Entertainment Group Kevin Lowe. “There was a question of timing, but we’re certainly glad we waited this long because we think it’s that much more fitting. The last year of Rexall and the last year of the Oilers and Oil Kings in this building. I certainly don’t want to say last but not least, but… none of this would have happened without Glen Sather. It’s very fitting that he’ll be the final great moment of Rexall Place.”

The Oilers will be moving into their new downtown home at Rogers Place following this season. Sather will be the final banner raised at Rexall.

Lowe spoke with Sather before the club announced the decision.

“(He was) humble as you would expect and very honoured. Rightfully so. It’s been a long time, and for no other reason than we’ve had a bit of a mandate in terms of people doing their jobs,” said Lowe. “Now he’s not a general manager anymore, we can honour all the great things that he did.”

POSTED ON Monday, 07.20.2015 / 3:23 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

Kevin Lowe was playing for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL when he first met Glen Sather. Little did he know that the two would be seeing a lot more of each other over the coming years.

“For me personally, it was the year before I was drafted by the Oilers,” said Lowe. “I was being recruited by some of the WHA teams and I had a chance to meet with him in Quebec City on the bench during a practice. He had read in the paper I was thinking of signing with the Birmingham Bulls or the Quebec Nordiques and he said, ‘why would you want to sign with those teams, why wouldn’t you want to come out to Edmonton?’ And that was the first time I spoke with him.”

Lowe was taken 21st overall in 1979, joining the Oilers that rookie season. In the following years, Sather made an impact on the young defenceman that has stuck with him until today.

“Everything, for me personally,” Lowe said of what Sather meant to his career. “The support he gave me as a player and the encouragement he gave me in my later stages as a player to keep my eye on the long-term objectives, in terms of coaching and managing. When he brought me back from the Rangers, he brought me back with a contract that allowed me to play for another year and then to get into coaching afterwards. I don’t know if anybody else has ever signed a contract like that. Then when the EIG took over, Glen went to New York and they asked me to be manager. I asked his advice and he said, ‘there are three jobs in hockey. There’s playing, there’s coaching and there’s managing. Playing is the best and coaching is the second best and managing is the third best.’”

Sather will see his name raised into the rafters on December 11, as the Oilers honour the long-time player, coach and general manager. Sather becomes the ninth Oiler to have a banner raised by the team, joining Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Anderson, Kurri, Hamilton, Fuhr and longtime radio broadcaster Rod Phillips.

POSTED ON Thursday, 07.16.2015 / 4:33 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

On Thursday, the Oilers agreed to terms with 23-year-old Brandon Davidson on a one-year contract. After 12 games with the club last season, the defenceman's natural progression and development suggest he’s ready for more in 2015-16.

“Things were pretty smooth sailing I think,” Davidson told Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now. “With my situation and how things went last year, I think that this was reasonable and I’m glad that I’m able to stay on with the organization. I know I’ve had a taste there now and I feel like I’m ready more than ever. I’m real excited and can’t wait for the challenge ahead of me.”

His road to the NHL is lined with obstacles. The organization made it a point of emphasis to bolster their depth on the blueline this off-season. The competition is much stronger than a year ago. Edmonton traded for both Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba at the draft. General Manager Peter Chiarelli has said he expects both to be in Edmonton this season. There is also the competition with 2013 seventh-overall pick Darnell Nurse for a spot. And of course, you have the incumbent defencemen from last season as well as free agent signing Andrej Sekera.

It will be a tough task for a young defenceman like Davidson to unseat some of that competition. But he’s faced adversity before and the 2010 sixth-round pick won’t go down without a fight.

“I feel like I’ve done everything that I’ve been asked and I keep proving over and over again that I belong and that I can do this,” said Davidson. “For me, I know there’s a big challenge ahead of me, especially with what happened at the draft and Darnell Nurse might be ready as well. I know there’s a huge challenge ahead of me but I’ve been facing challenges my whole life and this is just another one. Hopefully I can break this one down too.”

Davidson has gotten bigger and stronger the last few years and last season he was a very important piece of the Oklahoma City Barons defence. Davidson was reliable enough that the coaches put him on the ice for big minutes and big responsibilities. He became more physical this past season, and it showed in his one-on-one battles with opposing players. Davidson says he would like to get a little quicker heading into the upcoming season.

If Davidson is to make the Oilers roster out of training camp, beginning the year as the seventh defenceman may be his best bet.

“That’s very fair,” said Davidson. “That’s my goal right now, to get my foot in that door and if that’s that seventh spot then I’m going to relish that and run with that. Any chance I can be there and stay there, I’m going to take it, make the best of it and work my way to through the ranks kind of thing.”

After signing on with the Oilers for another year, Davidson couldn’t be more happy to at least have that opportunity.

“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get started this season. I want to start and finish with the Oilers and that’s the goal.”

POSTED ON Thursday, 07.16.2015 / 3:32 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

Today, the Oilers agreed to terms with two players on one-year contracts.

The two players were defenceman Brandon Davidson and winger Tyler Pitlick.

POSTED ON Wednesday, 07.15.2015 / 3:09 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

Justin Schultz has the potential to be a high-end offensive weapon on the blueline for the Oilers.

He flashed that potential playing in the American Hockey League during the 2012-13 season when he had 48 points (18-30-48) in 34 games. He then put up 27 points in 48 games during his lockout-shortened NHL rookie season.

But after three seasons in the professional ranks, one area of Schultz’s game he wants to work on is his strength to help with his battles and defensive game.

“It’s something that’s what I’ve always had to do in the off-season: get stronger and more explosive,” Schultz said on Oilers Now. “Definitely one of the things (the Oilers) communicated to me was getting more powerful in that aspect of my game. I think I’ve been working on that pretty good right now. I’ve still got a couple months here left but it’s been going well and I’m excited to get back to Edmonton and get going.”

Schultz has been hitting the gym in Kelowna this off-season and says he feels more powerful and more explosive. He also says he’s noticed more muscle when he steps on the scale.

The Oilers blueliner told Bob Stauffer that he wants to play with an edge like Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. That pushback starts this season, according to Schultz.

“It’s something I’m always trying to improve on and there’s no better time than this year to start showing that,” said Schultz. “I need to play with an edge. It helps to be a better player and helps with every part of your game so it’s something I’m going to try to do this year.”

Adding strength, playing with more of an edge and developing more consistency in his game are on Schultz’s wish list for the 2015-16 season. Schultz and the Oilers agreed to terms on a one-year contract on Wednesday. The 25-year-old has played 203 NHL games in his career, scoring 25 goals and adding 66 assists.

POSTED ON Wednesday, 07.15.2015 / 2:51 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers agreed to terms with defenceman Justin Schultz on a one-year deal on Wednesday. The length of the contract gives Schultz the 2015-16 season to prove he can be the player he was expected to be coming out of college at the University of Wisconsin.

“I think the one-year deal makes sense,” Schultz said on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer. “It gives me another year to prove what I’ve got. If I have a good year then hopefully I can get a longer term deal and be in Edmonton for a long time. I know exciting things are coming here and it’s just the start of it. Hopefully it’s a big year here.”

Consistency is something Schultz wants to have more of heading into his fourth pro season.

“Obviously, I can play better,” said Schultz. “I was very inconsistent last year and even the year before. It’s about bringing my best game every night and playing like the player I’ve played like in the past, that I know I can play like. It’s going to be a big year for me. I’m excited.”

POSTED ON Wednesday, 07.15.2015 / 2:49 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

Justin Schultz and the Oilers agreed to terms on a one-year contract on Wednesday. For Schultz, the 2015-16 season will be his fourth in the professional ranks. He has yet to play in the playoffs as a pro.

“It’s been a long couple years,” Schultz told Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now. “It’s not fun losing, that’s for sure.”

This off-season has a much different feel to it, considering the volume of changes to the organization. It started with Bob Nicholson taking over as CEO and the Oilers winning the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery. Peter Chiarelli was named President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, then he hired Todd McLellan as Head Coach. The Oilers used that lottery pick to take Connor McDavid and the changes continued.

“We all want to get better, we all want to win and I think it’s close here with these changes. It’s going to be good for us,” said Schultz.

A new coaching staff, new players brought in via draft, trade and free agency and a new leader as GM all have Schultz ready to hit the ice for the upcoming season.

“It’s exciting to say the least,” said Schultz. “It kind of gives guys like me a fresh start and a clean slate to show what I’ve got, to show these guys. I’m looking forward to working with Todd and obviously getting Connor is unbelievable. A lot of excitement around Edmonton right now. It’s good times to be there.”