UWindsor alumnus Blake Blondeel (MHK 2018) has one of the most enviable jobs in Canadian sports.
The former Lancer men’s hockey captain manages ticket sales for the Edmonton Oilers, who play their regular-season opener against the Vancouver Canucks tonight. In his role, Blondeel gets to use National Hockey League greats Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as secret weapons.
“We can say we have two of the best players in the world,” Blondeel said of how his marketing team approaches ticket sales.
“If we win the Cup, my job gets easier,” he says with a chuckle.
Blondeel joined the Oilers Entertainment Group in April, with just one game remaining in the regular season. The franchise’s playoff berth was secure and expectations were at a fever pitch. McDavid has again been named the most valuable player in the NHL with his third consecutive Hart Memorial Trophy win, and excitement for the coming season is high.
Blondeel also manages ticket sales for the Western Hockey League’s Oil Kings, which won the league championship in 2022.
“Part of my job is creating FOMO,” said Blondeel, using the acronym for fear of missing out. “It’s about creating a customer journey to drive ticket sales.”
His own journey into his dream career was one of determination and grit.
After graduating in 2018, Blondeel was working as a supervisor at an aluminum extrusion manufacturer in Chatham. He was thankful to have found the factory job through a former hockey coach, but he knew he was wasting his education in sport management and leadership.
Blondeel had noticed as he looked for work in his field that many of the openings were out in Alberta. He would apply, but not get offers.
“I thought maybe it was because I wasn’t there in person, so I took a leap of faith. I packed my bags and moved out west.”
His first interview was with the Calgary Flames. As impressed with his gumption as his credentials, the team hired him as a ticket sales executive.
“I worked at a mall for three weeks before I landed a job with the Flames.”
The transition into a ticket sales management job with the Oilers was natural. With the Flames organization, he was selling season tickets, group packages, and premium experiences. With the Oilers and Oil Kings, he comes up with campaigns and sales strategies for the ticket sales team, and coaches them on sales tactics.
Blondeel looks back at his time at the University of Windsor with great affection. While here, he was president of the Lancer Student-Athlete Committee and performed lots of volunteer work both on and off campus.
As part of his internship program, he worked with the Canadian Olympic Committee. He built the organization’s blog page for One Team, which promotes LGBTQ+ inclusion and respect in schools and in sport across the country. His master’s research was on such social inclusion initiatives in sport.
“My time in Windsor allowed me to grow as a person, as a leader, and as an academic. I have a lot of people to thank for that.”
His passion has always been hockey.
“I always figured if I can’t play in the NHL, I want to be involved in some way… I’m very grateful for what the sport provided me and the relationships I’ve been able to build.”
Growing up in Tilbury, he started his junior hockey career with the Dresden Kings. He played for the Chatham Maroons before joining the Lancers where he captained the team for three of his five seasons and was an Academic All-Canadian and received the captain’s trophy in his final season.
“I really did enjoy my time in Windsor,” he said. But, he added, he’s loving his life out west, too.
“I still play hockey, but I’ve taken on other activities.” He’s an avid runner who also likes camping and hiking. With his trusty Australian shepherd Ollie at his side, he runs up hills and mountains in anticipation for one day competing in an IronMan Triathlon.
“Life is good and I still have so much more I want to achieve.”