Prior to his current role of Game Presentation Manager with the Edmonton Oilers in the National Hockey League (NHL), Lindsey Gullett got his start in MJHL with the Virden Oil Capitals.
For two seasons, Gullett wore several different hats under his title of Sales & Marketing Manager, where he was able to earn valuable experience which helped launch his career into the sports & entertainment business.
“Looking back at it, the timing for me was great. Virden was a new organization and were one of the first teams to take the approach of hiring a Sales and Marketing Manager to handle sponsorships and help with the business side of the team,” Gullett shared.
“I was able to do everything. Being able to jump into a position where you’re able to be so hands on with the team in terms of working with season ticket holders, sponsorship’s, social media, website and game day experience, at the time I didn’t realize how valuable it was and how great of an experience it was. I really took a lot away from those two years.”
The return of the Manitoba Moose in 2015 sparked a new opportunity for Gullett to take his career to the professional ranks in his home province. After earning an interview with the club, Gullett would go on to accept the role of Game Producer.
Shortly after working his final event with the Oil Caps’ during the MJHL’s Draft in June, the product of Wawanesa, Manitoba, would officially make the jump to the American Hockey League (AHL).
“It was a big eye opener for me going from the Junior A level to the Moose where you’re dealing with a bigger arena, you have more tools and resources at your disposal. My very first game in my role was a sold out lower bowl for the return of the Moose. That might be one of the most important games I worked.”
“I had gone through a couple seasons with the Moose and an opportunity came up in Edmonton with the Oilers. The opportunity to work in the new arena (Rogers Place) with the structure of their Game Presentation team was something I couldn’t pass up for the growth of my career.”
Like many children who grew up in Canada with dreams of playing in the NHL, it was no different for Gullett who had similar aspirations.
Little did he know that his dream of making it to the NHL would come in business operations which he quickly credited his time in Virden for.
“Virden was such a good foot in the door and at the time, it was people like Dale Lewis and Troy Leslie, having their trust took me into the business side of things. I never really thought it would lead to where I am now. But being fortunate to meet the right people at the right time and just being curious. I’ve always tried to ask questions about how people do things and how things work, I’ve learnt so much along the way.”
“It’s definitely surreal to think about,” Gullett said of the opportunity to work with the Oilers. “If I wasn’t doing this I don’t know what I would be doing. It’s a treat to work in the building, getting to watch the players and working with the staff.”
When the NHL shut down near the beginning of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was plenty of uncertainty surrounding the season moving forward. Gullett had just completed his third season with the Oilers and was in the same boat like many others, sitting and waiting to learn his fate.
As discussions started to heat up regarding the NHL’s Hub City model and return to hockey, the thought of Edmonton being selected as one of two hub cities quickly started to become a reality.
“When they started talking about the Hub City model in Edmonton, there were still 10 cities on the list, so I knew a lot of things needed to fall in place for it to happen. I had been on weekly Game Presentation calls with the all the teams from league discussing content and what the NHL would need for neutral site games leading up to the announcement. Then all of a sudden we were named the one of the hub cities and things started to happen very quickly. Credit to our OEG (Oilers Entertainment Group) executive team for the tremendous work that went on behind the scenes to bring this event to Rogers Place.”
With over 60 Western Conference playoff games in the books, there’s no question that Gullett and the rest of the NHL’s staff have been hard at work bringing the games to life without fans in attendance.
“The biggest honour is getting to wear a bunch of my league counterpart hats. When you’re doing three games in a day, you have an hour and twenty minutes between games to shift your focus. Kudos to our teams and the staff at the NHL for having everything organized so well.”
“The thing I’m the most proud of is serving the fan bases of each of these teams and the staff who work with these teams on a regular basis. We’re trying to replicate their home experiences and traditions as best as we can. We received a bunch of notes and watched video on how teams execute their goal calls and entrances on the ice. We took a lot of pride in trying to replicate the feel for not only the fans but have some audible familiarity for the players.”
“If you’re waiting in the tunnel to come out for the game, these players are use to hearing the same songs at the same times, so just considering the timing and how that would go we tried to do our best. I know we’re not perfect but we’re pretty close.”
Gullett also shared some key advice for anyone looking to make a career in not only the sports industry but for someone looking to advance their career in any professional work setting.
“One thing I would say is be open minded and be willing to make sacrifices. Sports jobs are highly sought after, some days it feels like work some days it doesn’t. If its something you want bad enough you have to be willing to make sacrifices.”
“For me, I’ve been fortunate to have the support of my family to be willing to come along for the ride. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I didn’t have that. Always be curious and continue to network and ask questions. You never know who’s watching or who you’re going to meet. Be respectful and humble, work hard and you’ll never know what will come of it,” Gullet concluded.