Mentored by Ed Snider, Dave Scott is making his mark with the Flyers
The president and CEO of Comcast Spectacor is spending a lot of time on hockey matters these days.
First of three parts.
Dave Scott will never be a hands-on guy, like the late Ed Snider. Or have the big personality of Snider, the Flyers co-founder and a man who thoroughly enjoyed the spotlight.
But as he gets more comfortable in his role of overseeing decisions made by the Flyers' brass, Scott is becoming more involved, asking more questions, and taking on more duties with the team.
"It's coming," Scott, president and CEO of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast Spectacor, said last week about his overall involvement on the hockey side of the team. He also oversees Spectra - the successful venue management, food service, and ticketing division of Comcast Spectacor - and the growth of the Wells Fargo Center complex.
Scott was named CEO in the summer of 2015, which is when he began delegating some of his Spectra duties.
"It started to change there, and as Ed became more ill, I started to get more involved with the Flyers," the soft-spoken Scott said in his first one-on-one interview since Snider's death on April 11, 2016.
Scott said he feels invigorated. After years in the cable industry, he is now spending the bulk of his time on matters surrounding the hockey team.
"He's like a kid in a candy store," said Paul Holmgren, the Flyers' president. "His enthusiasm and newness to being involved to the hockey side is really refreshing, and in my mind, contagious. . . . He's brought a fresh outlook on looking at things and a real stability in growing the team not only from a hockey standpoint but from a business standpoint."
After Snider's passing, Scott became the team's Governor, making him responsible for attending several NHL meetings. More importantly, he became the man who has final say on decisions made by the Flyers' front-office staff, including approvals on trades or free-agent signings.
Love for hockey
Scott, a private but friendly man who likes working in anonymity, was hand-picked for his job by Snider and Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp.
"I've watched a lot of games with Ed and learned a lot from him," Scott said after munching on a salad at Xfinity Live! last week. "He always kept that phone in his suite, but in the 21/2 years we were together, there were a lot of games I didn't see him pick up the phone" to complain about something to Holmgren.
Scott looks much younger than his 64 years, and, like Snider, he credits a personal trainer and yoga sessions with keeping him fit. He said Snider was a "great listener" and "very candid and would tell you what he thought. I appreciated his candor. We clicked from the get-go and got very close in a short period of time. I think in many ways we shared similar things. He was all about hiring great people to run the companies, and I was always that way, too."
They were both entrepreneurs who were risk-takers and men who had backgrounds in accounting.
"We used to joke that it's a lot more fun running companies than keeping score," Scott said with a smile. "Accountants keep score."
Snider and Scott had another thing in common: A deep love for hockey. That love - and the chance to help run the Flyers - is what caused Scott to end a 90-day retirement in 2013.
"It was an exciting piece for me," he said. "It was very intriguing."
Scott, who used to build a makeshift skating pond in the backyard of his Ohio home as a youngster, leans heavily on Holmgren and general manager Ron Hextall on decisions that affect the Flyers.
"My job is to make sure we're going for the Cup and we're going for the win," he said. "Make sure that everybody has the resources that are needed to succeed."
Scott has a formal meeting with Hextall and Holmgren each month and is on the phone "almost daily" with them.
"Part of my job, too, is to challenge those guys," he said. "They work for me. When we meet in a closed session, I have opinions, and I'll tell them what I think, and they'll tell me what they think. But at the end of the day, it's really Ron. He's really running the team. I really like to give my guys the wide side of the field."
Scott said it was a no-brainer to approve the late-season deal Hextall brought to him: The Flyers acquired center Valtteri Filppula from Tampa Bay, along with fourth- and seventh-round draft picks this June, for defenseman Mark Streit.
"That was an easy one," Scott said. "I was more focused on how great is this that we can get another [quality] center? . . . And then we had Jordan Weal coming up at the same time, so for the first time in a long time, we had depth on three lines.
"In terms of financial [effects] and the business decision, with Mark leaving, it really wasn't a financial thing," he added.
Streit's contract, however, was only until the end of 2016-17. Filppula's contract, which carries a $5 million cap hit, ends after the 2017-18 season.
That, Scott said, isn't a burden.
"If you look at our strategy and our pipeline, many of these things are just bridges to the next two or three years," he said. "It ended up working out great."
Ending the drought
Scott says the team is not a "bottom-line" commodity for Comcast, which took over 100 percent of the Flyers after buying out the remaining 24 percent from Snider's estate last September. He said making a slew of money - Forbes estimates the Flyers' value at $720 million - isn't as important as ending the franchise's Stanley Cup drought. The Flyers last won the Cup in 1975, back when gas was 44 cents a gallon, leisure suits were the rage, and Jaws became a blockbuster movie.
Like Snider, Scott said he will do everything in his power to have a parade down Broad Street.
"I'm a Flyers fan at heart, too," he said.
Scott, who is headed to the IIHF World Championships in Germany on Tuesday, has a hectic schedule that would wear down people half his age. When he gets free time, boating, jet-skiing, fishing, and hiking are at the top of his to-do list.
"But hockey has moved front and center for me and the family," said Scott, who has five children ranging from ages 19 to 35. "We all did the family bracket again where you pick all four playoff rounds. I had Washington beating Chicago [in the Finals]. Everybody in my family is watching a lot of hockey these days."
Next: Scott's childhood in Lyndhurst, Ohio, was filled with neighborhood baseball and football games.