Since he took over in 1999, Hockey Canada president and chief executive officer Bob Nicholson has become the face of the organization, overseeing massive growth and annual budgets that have risen to $80-million from $5-million.
Yet until Friday, when Hockey Canada announced a restructuring at its executive level, Nicholson was responsible for signing off on all decisions, in all facets of organization, and it was becoming an untenable burden for one person. Hockey Canada will now rely more heavily on four new vice-presidents, freeing Nicholson to focus on "upper-level hiring and partnerships," while expanding the organization's visibility across the country.
"We need more people who are visible on a day-to-day basis and are recognized by the general public," Nicholson said. "Those four [vice-presidents]have to really be recognized as leaders in our country."
All four vice-presidents previously worked for Hockey Canada, but will have their duties and responsibilities expanded. Additionally, chief operating officer Scott Smith will oversee day-to-day operations, taking over from Nicholson.
Brad Pascall, the new VP of hockey operations and national teams, will surely see an increased profile because he will be in charge of Canada's entries into international tournaments, and will have to answer to the rabid hockey public should those clubs produce anything short of gold medals. Paul Carson (hockey development), Scott Farley (marketing services and events) and Glen McCurdie (membership services) are the other vice-presidents and will be given more latitude on decision-making.
"They will be key to get me out of the day-to-day operations," said Nicholson, adding that the new structure will be re-evaluated in six months. "We've been trying to get to this point."
Nicholson explained that the restructuring reflects shifting priorities, and that Hockey Canada will focus more on membership services and development.
While most Canadians see Hockey Canada as the body responsible for picking Olympic and world junior championship teams, Nicholson said its chief role is to oversee amateur hockey across the country. He added that "development" and "high performance" were too closely married under the old structure, and believes that Pascall and Carson will now oversee separate fiefdoms, and give those areas more attention that they were previously receiving. McCurdie, meanwhile, will continue to lead the Ottawa office and preside over Hockey Canada's safety and insurance programs.