Oren Koules

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Oren Koules (born January 31, 1961)[1] is an American entertainment industry and professional sports industry executive. He was president of Evolution Entertainment, producer of the Saw film series. He was also the owner of the Helena Bighorns ice hockey team, and is former part-owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning ice hockey team of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Personal life[edit]

Born in Chicago to Greek[2] immigrants, Koules is divorced but has remarried with one son, Miles, and one daughter, and lives in Los Angeles. He played soccer and starred in hockey at Lyons Township High School (alma mater of David Hasselhoff) in west suburban Chicago before leaving prior to graduation to pursue his dream of playing professional hockey. After his hockey career, he became a commodities trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he made the money to enter the entertainment business. He then moved into the entertainment industry in production.[3]

Sports career[edit]

He played for six Western Hockey League teams, including the Portland Winter Hawks, the Great Falls Americans, the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Brandon Wheat Kings. In Medicine Hat, he was a teammate of future NHL goaltender Kelly Hrudey. His best year was 1980–81; he scored 28 goals for the Spokane Flyers and was a teammate of future NHL defenseman Ken Daneyko. He also participated in the 1981 US Olympic Festival, which was part of evaluation process for the 1984 US Olympic Hockey Team.

As a member of the Hampton Roads Gulls, Koules played 18 games and scored 6 goals and 21 points[4] during the 1982–83 ACHL season. On the roster was a 24 year old John Tortorella, who would later coach the Tampa Bay Lightning while Koules was part-owner of the team.

Despite not ever being drafted by an NHL team, Koules participated in two training camps with the Chicago Blackhawks.[5]

NHL franchise ownership[edit]

On August 7, 2007, Absolute Hockey Enterprises, a group led by Doug MacLean that included Koules, announced it had signed a purchase agreement for the Tampa Bay Lightning from Palace Sports and Entertainment. The deal was terminated in mid-November after the group began to fight amongst itself, leading to lawsuits being filed. On February 13, 2008, it was announced that OK Hockey LLC, a group headed by Oren Koules that did not include MacLean, had agreed to buy the Lightning. On June 18, 2008 the NHL Board of Governors approved the sale, which depended on the closing of the financial deal of about $210 million (USD) to buy the team and lease the St. Pete Times Forum.

It was alleged that Lightning co-owners Koules and Len Barrie began to disagree on team management issues, that were believed to include NHL superstar Vincent Lecavalier being traded. This became such a problem that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman finally had to intervene and barter a truce between the two men in June 2009.[6][7][8] Each was given the opportunity to buy the other out. In the end neither exercised this option and the team was sold in February 2010 to Jeff Vinik's Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC. Vinik is also a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox. The NHL Board of Governors gave final approval to the sale, believed to be approximately $110 million (USD), in March 2010.[9]

In August 2011, while Koules was attending the NHL Research and Development Camp with his son, several news agencies reported that he was openly contemplating a return to NHL franchise ownership elsewhere and that he had discussed the matter with Commissioner Bettman among others.[10]

Entertainment career[edit]

Koules helped found Peak Productions in the mid 1990s. After two hit films, he became a Vice President of Production with Paramount Pictures. In 1999, he helped found the Evolution Entertainment film production company with Mark Burg. In 2004, the partnership formed Twisted Pictures to produce films.[3] He appeared in Saw as a murder victim and in a scene in Saw IV as the same character. In June 2011, after twelve years, Koules departed from Evolution Entertainment; Burg purchased his 50% of the company. Burg chose CAA agent-turned-producer Michael Menchel as the new president.[11]


Executive producer
Television executive producer


External links[edit]