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Oklahoma City Barons: General Manager Bill Scott is Barons' version of Sam Presti

Like the Thunder general manager, the Barons' GM also got his opportunity at a young age after paying his dues. Wearing black rimmed glasses, Scott even looks a little like Presti. And like Presti, Scott is the GM of a model, winning franchise.
by Michael Baldwin Published: May 25, 2013

Bill Scott is the Oklahoma City Barons' version of Sam Presti.

Like the Thunder general manager, the Barons' GM also got his opportunity at a young age after paying his dues. Wearing black rimmed glasses, Scott even looks a little like Presti.

And like Presti, Scott is the GM of a model, winning franchise.

The Barons are in the American Hockey League playoffs for the third consecutive season and opened the best-of-7 Western Conference finals Friday and Saturday at Grand Rapids. The series shifts to the Cox Convention Center for games Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

The Barons also reached the Western Conference finals last season.

But this season was a different type of challenge for Scott.

Last year, the Barons were the No. 1 seed. This season, the Barons dug a hole with a five-game losing streak in mid-January after young Oilers stars Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz returned to Edmonton after the NHL lockout ended.

The Barons tumbled to 11th place.

Four months later, the Barons are one of four teams left in a 30-team league vying for the Calder Cup.

The 32-year-old Scott was the point man in rebuilding the roster.

Starting in late January, Scott orchestrated free-agent contracts with former NHL veterans Jonathan Cheechoo, Brett Clark and Randy Jones. Two months later, the Barons traded for Garrett Stafford, a 33-year-old veteran with a decade of experience in the AHL.

“It shows this franchise wants to win,” said 35-year-old team captain Josh Green. “Sometimes you see other (AHL) franchises go with their young guys when times are tough. It's a different way of thinking here. They feel they can get young guys the best experience by winning and surrounding them with older guys.”

There is one huge difference between Presti's and Scott's jobs. Every move the Barons make must be endorsed by the Edmonton Oilers, the Barons' NHL parent team.

“Sam has full control of the Thunder and has done a terrific job,” Scott said. “The equivalent in this organization is (Edmonton general manager) Craig MacTavish. My role is a little bit different but there are a lot of similarities.

“We have to deal with a few more unique situations and circumstances — injury (rehabs) from the big club, recalling players to the big club, getting players from the ECHL (Double-A). We're developing young players. At the same time we want to improve our club.”

Oilers provide Scott resources

If the big club wants to stock its Triple-A roster with young prospects, sometimes in a cost-cutting move, it limits moves an AHL general manager can make. Scott is blessed the Oilers make winning a priority.

“It's a team effort,” said Oilers assistant general manager Ricky Olcyzyk. “We all work together. At the end of the day the Oilers make the final decision. But we certainly take into consideration what Bill and their coaches are telling us.”

An NHL proven free agent like Cheechoo, who led the NHL in goals seven years ago, can cost up to $300,000 a year on an AHL contract in a normal non-lockout season.

“They have a wish list,” Olcyzyk said. “They may want player X, Y or Z. For different reasons we may say we don't want player X or player Y but we'll negotiate with player Z.”

The Oilers pay the Barons' salaries.

On-the-rise players drafted by the organization make around $50,000 to $60,000 in the AHL. The AHL league minimum is $42,500.

Most AHL payrolls range between $2 and $3.5 million a year. Edmonton has a Triple-A budget but is willing to pay market price.

“Edmonton sees the big picture,” Scott said. “If they need to spend a little more money than they planned they've usually done that. They don't spend money frivolously. They're smart how they spend their money. There are contract negotiations but they give fair contracts.”

Just as important as investing dollars is the Oilers' willingness to allow a veteran to take ice time away from a younger player.

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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