O’Neil Leaves HBSE

Just a few days after doing an interview with the “Speak of the Devils” podcast where he encouraged GM Tom Fitzgerald to “go for it” and make the Devils competitive again, and after eight years with the company, HBSE CEO Scott O’Neil has stepped down. A press release put out by the Devils says that he will “pursue new opportunities.”

As the press release mentioned, “O’Neil has over two decades of leadership experience within the sports and entertainment industry, including his most recent tenure with HBSE.”

O’Neil thanked Josh Harris and David Blitzer in the press release, noting that they allowed him “to bring together the most talented executive team in sports and entertainment.

He also noted that “Josh and David are extraordinary leaders, partners and friends. Their commitment ot our teams, brands, employees – and most importantly – their commitment to serving the City of Philadelphia, Newark and Camden – made our success together possible. To be trusted with the opportunity to steward epic brands – as well as buy, build, integrate, acquire, and grow complimentary businesses to create HBSE as it is today – has been the ride of a lifetime, one for which I am humbled and grateful.”

O’Neil praised HBSE as “the best organization I have ever been a part of, with the highest degree of difficulty I have ever encountered, and the most fun I have ever had, because every day brought a new opportunity to learn and develop.”

He also alluded to “a next platform” that he is “excited to build, grow, and drive.”

He mentioned in the aforementioned podcast appearance, that he wanted to take some time to balance business and his personal life. Perhaps he has found that and this is the reason he is leaving the company?

David Blitzer said of O’Neil that “[w]e are immensely grateful to Scott for his partnership over these past eight years of unprecedented growth. His ambition, strategic outlook, and innovative mindset have been and will continue to be instrumental to the long-term success of our business. On behalf of everyone at HBSE, we thank Scott for his transformational leadership, drive and passion, and we look forward to celebrating his future successes.

O’Neil’s accomplishments in HBSE are numerous and include: paving the way for the 76ers to become the first North American “Big Four” sports team with a jersey sponsorship; overseeing “construction on the largest and most technically advanced training complex in professional sports, the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex” in Camden, New Jersey; he helped establish the Innovation Lab; and, made the Sixers the first US pro “sports franchise to acquire a world-renowned esports team.”

In addition, the presser states that “he became acting Co-Managing partner for Elevate Sports Ventures, a sports and entertainment agency he helped to create a partnership between HBSE, Live Nation Entertainment | Ticketmaster, the San Francisco 49ers and Oak View Group.” Moreover, “[h]e also helped create HBSE Venture Fund and HBSE Real Estate to round out the portfolio.”

His accolades include: “creating an innovative and best-in-class workplace and workforce, with the Sixers being named one of the ‘Top 50 Cultures’ in the nation by Entrepreneur (2017)”; Philadelphia Magazine calling him one of the “Most Innovative Leaders” in the city; SportTechie naming him the “Most Innovative Executive” of 2017; and helping the Sixers win five Clios – winning one for “Team of the Year” this year.

While I was hard on his ability to manage and build a hockey team this past week, there is no denying that Scott O’Neil is a majorly talented executive. He may not be taking Tom Fitzgerald’s job anytime soon, but that’s fine. There are only 32 people in the world right now who are NHL general managers. The point is, he knows how to do his job well and that is what counts. HBSE will be missing a key spoke in their wheel moving forward.

Good luck to him in whatever his next venture might entail.

Smith Named to Postseason All-Rookie Team

According to Chris Wescott of the Devils’ official site, defenseman Ty Smith has been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team today.

Tom Gulitti shared on Twitter that Smith finished seventh in Calder Trophy voting as rookie of the year. He received one third place vote, three fourth place votes and 11 fifth place votes, edging just ahead of the Ottawa Senators’ Tim Stutzle. Yegor Sharangovich finished one place below Stutzle with one second place vote, once fourth place vote and seven fifth place votes. The Calder Trophy was ultimately won by Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild.

Smith was named to the team by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the same men and women who vote for the Calder Trophy winner.

Smith led all NHL rookie defensemen with 21 assists and 23 points. Wescott also mentioned that he also led in power play assists with six and power play points with seven.

Wescott mentions in his article that Smith “averaged 20:07 of ice time in 48 games.” He also “became just the sixth defenseman in League history to begin his career with a point streak of at least five games.”

Smith was picked 17th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. He made the Devils this year after being a late-camp cut in 2019 – when he was sent back to the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He followed up his final junior season by making the New Jersey club and posting the numbers that got him a spot on the 2020-21 All-Rookie Team.

Joining him on the 2020-21 NHL All-Rookie Team are: goalie Alex Nedeljkovic of the Carolina Hurricanes, fellow blueliner K’Andre Miller of the Rangers, forward Kaprizov, forward Josh Norris of the Senators and forward Jason Roberson of the Dallas Stars.