The Lightning recently made a hire that owner Oren Koules said is about centralizing the team's brand in its dealings with sponsors and suite and season-ticket holders. Even so, bringing on Angelina Lawton, wife of general manager Brian Lawton, as head of corporate communications seems awkward at first glance, especially at a time the company has laid off seven employees.
And especially when one of those cut was head of marketing Mark Gullett, responsible for last summer's successful "Seen Stamkos?" campaign, and whose dismissal grabbed national attention when his son, Ben, posted a video resume for him on YouTube.
But Koules said no one was laid off so Angelina Lawton could be hired. And by the way, he added, she is doing a terrific job.
"I am committed to having our brand become a brand," Koules said. "I needed someone to corral that brand, and talking to her and meeting her, I thought she was a great person to do it."
Angelina worked in a similar capacity for about 10 years at her father's Minneapolis investment firm. Koules said Angelina reports to him, not her husband, and she got kudos from the owner for designing a slick season-ticket renewal brochure and the light pole banners outside the St. Pete Times Forum.
"That was a little bit of a test run," Koules said of the brochure, "which convinced me she was the right person."
Koules said hiring Angelina is part of a larger strategy to bring all aspects of the team's corporate communications — concept, design and, eventually, printing — in-house. Doing so, he said, will shorten turnaround time, substantially cut costs and create efficiencies by eliminating outside vendors.
It is a model the Canadiens followed with success, team spokesman Donald Beauchamp said.
"It's kind of a brand manager to make sure everything that comes out of this building, all the communications is the same and everyone is on the same page," Koules said of Angelina's mandate.
So, was the timing awkward? Perhaps.
But bottom line, Koules said, hiring Angelina was smart business.