Editor: this story headline was updated to reflect Camillo’s specific title

For the first 49 years of their existence, the Philadelphia Flyers had an owner and chairman who was incredibly active, involved in their day-to-day operations, and who made winning and the fan experience top priorities.

Since Ed Snider’s death in April of 2016, there has been a real void in that role. Comcast Spectacor still owns the team, but there has been a real lack of public passion for the Flyers, and for very large chunks of time, even though Dave Scott was listed as the CEO of Comcast Spectacor, it seemed like nobody cared about what was going on with the organization – at least compared to what fans were used to seeing from Snider.

The Flyers were mired in mediocrity and the autonomous rule of former general manager Ron Hextall was so oppressive that it had a negative impact on the fan experience as well. The fan base started to show unprecedented apathy. There was no marketability. No pizazz. And the number-crunchers who were so used to seeing things monochromatically, were suddenly scared by this oncoming second red hue that was getting closer to their perennial black bottom line.

Something needed to change. It did. And it continues to do so.

That’s because Scott, who now has the title of Chairman, a title that until earlier this year was only reserved for Snider, even after his death, has decided to take a more active role and bring back a more Snider-like mentality to not only the hockey operations – like firing Hextall, assistant G.M. Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy and replacing them with a new GM in Chuck Fletcher and assistant coach Rick Wilson so far – but also on the business operations side of the organization as well.

Which is why a new position was created and a new big boss has been hired.

According to multiple sources, Comcast Spectacor will announce later today the hiring of a new President of Business Operations to oversee the Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center.

The new President is Valerie Camillo, and her responsibilities will be to manage all the key functions of the daily business for the club, which includes sales, marketing, finance, analytics (from the business side), technology and Human Resources, as well as optimizing business partnerships and relationships with the Philadelphia 76ers, NBC Sports Philadelphia, Xfinity Live! Philadelphia, Aramark and others.

Photo: YouTube

One source indicated that this new hierarchy of Scott and Camillo returns a structure that was last in place five years ago when Snider was Chairman and Peter Luukko was President. The only difference now is that Paul Holmgren is President of the Flyers and Camillo is President of Business Operations for the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center, whereas Luukko was President of both.

The distinction being Camillo will preside over the business side of things while Holmgren will preside over the hockey-side of things for the Flyers.

Otherwise, the new hierarchy is complete.

Sources say the announcement was made internally last Thursday afternoon, hours before the Flyers’ loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, a public announcement was held off until today.

Efforts to reach Scott for a comment on this matter were unsuccessful as he was travelling all weekend, but another source provided Crossing Broad with a copy of the internal memo, in which Scott said the following:

“As we transition the Wells Fargo Center into the most technologically-advanced arena in the country and the Flyers’ pipeline of young talent melds with our slate of proven stars, Valerie’s leadership will ensure that our business operations perform at peak levels and deliver a best-in-class fan experience.”

Camillo, 45, comes to the Flyers from the Washington Nationals where she spent the past five years in a similar role as their Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer.

Prior to that, Camillo was a senior vice president for the NBA in the league’s team marketing and business operations department where she acted as a liaison of sorts between teams and the league and consulted with organizations on all major business-side operations such as ticket sales, marketing, sales, sponsorships and the use of business analytics.

Before she broke into sports management, the University of Virginia grad was a financial consultant for IBM Global and Booz Allen Hamilton.

She will begin her new role with Comcast Spectacor in January.

“I’m looking very forward to joining the team at Comcast Spectacor and working to maximize all the potential and opportunities ahead of us,” Camillo said in a statement included in the internal memo. “The Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center are landmark entities entering exciting chapters in their respective histories, and I am thrilled to play a key role as these businesses advance.”

A lot of folks at the Flyers will now answer to Camillo directly, most notably the Flyers Chief Operating Officer, Shawn Tilger, who has a lot of similar responsibilities, albeit solely from the Flyers perspective, as Camillo.

And although a few Flyers sources indicated that this could be an effort to start squeezing Tilger out, two other sources suggested that isn’t the case and that this simply restores the structure that was in place before Luukko was removed as President back in 2013. The latter seems more likely, especially in the short-term.

In an interview I did with Snider back in 2011, he indicated that as President, Luukko was his hand-picked successor as Chairman. He told me at the time that he wouldn’t have made Luukko President if that wasn’t the expected line of succession.

However, two years later, after the Comcast-NBC merger, Luukko was forced to resign from his position following an internal audit. With Snider ill, no changes were made until Holmgren was promoted to President of the Flyers and Hextall was hired to replace him as GM.

The Presidency of Comcast Spectacor was never filled, and the position seemed to disappear after Snider’s death. Scott was put in charge as CEO, but the pecking order always seemed to be a bit off, even though Scott was obviously the commander-in-chief, as it were.

Sources indicate that Comcast Spectacor initially was going to hire for this position at the conclusion of the 2017-18 Flyers season, but after posting the position they immediately rescinded it and did not actively seek any candidates. Instead, Scott was promoted to the title of Chairman, which explains why he is more actively involved this season than in previous campaigns, and he decided to go ahead and fill this position with Camillo now after another disappointing start to a season for the Flyers.

Camillo now becomes the highest-ranking female executive in Flyers history and very likely is the highest-ranking executive in the history of Philadelphia professional sports, if you don’t count women who have had minority ownership interest in teams.

And although the landscape around the Flyers has recently changed to look and feel a lot more retro – with a return to operating with collaboration, respect, trust and a connection to the team’s rich history – this latest hire is as progressive as there has been in the history of the organization.

There’s no doubt, this is Scott’s team now.