21st February 2024

The Vancouver Canucks, the team with the most wins this year in the National Hockey League, have hired Catherine Chow as their new chief legal officer.

Chow joined the first-place team in the NHL’s Pacific Division within the past month, having previously been a longtime vice president of legal and general counsel for Keg Restaurants Ltd., a popular Canadian steakhouse and bar chain.

She didn’t respond to a request for comment about her new role with the Canucks, which is listed on Chow’s LinkedIn profile, the club’s website, and her registration with the Law Society of British Columbia. Nor did media contacts for the Canucks or the Keg, which like the hockey team is based in Vancouver.

At the Keg, which she joined in 2006, Chow immersed herself in the real estate and commercial law aspects of the company’s business, according to a 2013 profile. Chow, trained as a commercial litigator, oversaw a broad portfolio that included contracts, insurance, leasing, litigation, and trademarks. She also helped the Keg, which has 100 locations throughout Canada and four US states, respond to changing laws, particularly those stemming from the pandemic.

During her time at the Keg, Chow guided the company through several ownership changes, including its 2018 sale to a Canadian restaurant conglomerate now called Recipe Unlimited Corp. Chow’s also been an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s law school.

Chow’s new role will see her work for Canucks Sports & Entertainment, an entity chaired by Canadian businessman Francesco Aquilini that owns e-sports teams, the Canucks, and Rogers Arena, where the team plays its home games, as well as the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks and the National Lacrosse League’s Vancouver Warriors. Chow will also handle legal duties for Toptable, a group of high-end restaurants owned by Aquilini’s investment firm.

TurnkeyZRG, an executive search and recruitment firm focused on the sports and entertainment industries, handled Chow’s placement with the Canucks. Her hire comes a few months after the Canucks brought on Michelle O’Connor as a senior legal director and associate general counsel.

Chow moves into a top legal role vacated last year by Canucks general counsel Christopher Beardsmore, who has since reunited with several other former team executives—including ex-assistant general manager and club legal chief Christopher Gear—at Blackfin Sports Group. The Vancouver-based consultancy was formed last year to advise on sports and entertainment matters.

Across the Ice

While a new professional women’s hockey league was busy hiring lawyers ahead of its debut season that began in January, several NHL clubs have also made changes to their legal staffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning: James “Jim” Shimberg Jr., a former Holland & Knight partner who spent the past decade as general counsel for the team’s ownership, the Vinik Sports Group, left in January to open a Tampa office for the Miami-based Shubin Law Group, which specializes in real estate and land use law.

Shimberg has also become a partner at Shubin’s urban planning and development consulting arm, the Euclid Group. The Lightning, who have also made additions to their in-house legal team in recent years, saw its ownership finalize the sale last year of a stake in a $2 billion real estate joint venture in downtown Tampa to billionaire Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment Trust LLC.

Anaheim Ducks: OC Sports and Entertainment, the operating entity for the Ducks, their home ice at Anaheim’s Honda Center, and the club’s AHL affiliate the San Diego Gulls, hired Reed Smith associate Natalie “Nat” Ochoa and Freedom Forever LLC associate counsel for corporate transactions Jessica Park as associate counsel in January. That same month the Ducks also elevated assistant general counsel Francis Lam and Lauren Fitzpatrick to deputy general counsel. The moves come after Anaheim and Ducks ownership broke ground last year on a $4 billion development around the Honda Center.

Minnesota Wild: The team hired Jon Olson, an associate general counsel for litigation at Thomson Reuters Corp. in Eagan, Minn., as a director of legal affairs in November. Olson joined the Wild after the club welcomed aboard former USA Triathlon risk and compliance coordinator Amber Cratsenberg as a manager of insurance, risk, and legal compliance.

Cratsenberg was hired to replace former Wild director of legal and business affairs Joshua Siskin, who left the team last September to become a hockey-focused general manager for FloSports Inc., an Austin, Texas-based startup sports broadcasting and streaming service.

Dallas Stars: Another first-place team in the NHL’s Central Division, the Stars saw former legal counsel Rachael Lopez leave the team in October to become an associate counsel for the National Football League’s Las Vegas Raiders, whose home field just hosted the Super Bowl. Lopez exited a year after the Stars parted ways with their former general counsel, Alana Matthews, who started her own custom women’s luxury clothing line called Alautus.