TULSA, Okla. – The Tulsa Oilers are under new ownership. Oilers Broadcaster/Media Relations Director Rob Loeber made the announcement during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the BOK Center.
Long-time owner, Jeff Lund, recently sold the team to Steven Brothers Sports Management, LLC, headed by Wichita entrepreneur, Rodney Steven II, and his brothers Brandon and Johnny Steven. The trio is the same group that purchased the Wichita Thunder franchise in 2011.
Late last week Steven was named as the Interim Chairman of Central Partners, LLC, a group of team owners that purchased the CHL on June 20. According to Steven, he and his brothers will now hold two shares of league ownership since their purchase of the Oilers. He confirmed that each individual team owner will hold an equal share of the league.
Lund had been with the Oilers franchise since the team was reborn in 1992, and assumed ownership in 1999 after previously serving as General Manager. During his tenure, the team won the inaugural league championship and reached the post-season ten times in their 21-year history. However, the team has taken a few steps back since reaching the second round of the 2011 playoffs.
“It’s very evident through the commitment and the passion that the Steven brothers have, that they are going to allocate as many resources as possible to put a winning product on the ice,” Loeber said. “This is an extremely exciting time for our staff and our fans. We have very loyal fans throughout this community, they love their hockey, they have stuck with this team – some of them for decades, and they’ve seen some highs but they’ve seen too many lows recently.”
“The main people who are really going to benefit from this are our fans,” Oilers General Manager, and player on the 1993 championship squad, Taylor Hall said. “I can’t tell you how excited everyone is within our organization and the fans need to be extremely excited because the commitment level from the top, all the way down to the bottom is going to be to win hockey games and to bring that excitement back to the BOK Center.”
The Steven brothers own 12 health clubs and five car lots in Kansas. Rodney Steven looks forward to making the Oilers a winner once again, adding that he and his brothers do not do anything “half way.”
“My job in Tulsa I feel is going to be easy, you guys have a good fan base here, they’re dying to win again – it’s been a while,” Steven said.
“Your coach and staff just need some support from an ownership group that is one-hundred percent behind them and I’m here to tell you that we’re one-hundred percent behind this team and we’re going to do what it takes to get them successful and build this into one of the best cities in hockey. I think this will be one of the most premier double-a hockey teams, not just in the CHL, but in the country,” he added.
With the ownership question answered, the next step is to recruit a team. With Head Coach Bruce Ramsay’s contract having expired at the end of the 2012-13 season, Hall said that Ramsay will be back for another season behind the bench.
“We’re confident in his abilities as a coach and we expect to be playing in the championship next year, we have all the confidence in Coach Ramsay moving forward into the season,” Hall said.
“This all happened really fast,” said Ramsay. “Over the last week I got confirmation that I’m going to be back, so I’ve been recruiting really heavily because I got started a little late, but I think I’ve come close to catching up already,” he said.
When asked about the new ownership group, Ramsay points to the Wichita Thunder’s rise from the bottom of the CHL in the last few seasons as proof positive that the Steven brothers mean business.
He added that he looks forward to improving from last season’s disappointing 22-39-3 campaign. “There are a lot of reasons, and I’m not going to get into specifics, of where we ended up. I know if given the opportunity and resources, that I can put a great team on the ice – I’ve done it in the past and I’m ready to do it again,” he said.
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