Manna from Heaven

There was a time in Edmonton when it seemed anything was possible. Sky’s the limit. I remember my Dad saying the early 80s Oilers were so much better than the rest of the league it would take years for anyone to catch up.

It’s important to remember that those young men my Dad was talking about delivered on their promise and then some. The problems of that great Oiler team had to do with money, and in fact it’s been a theme since the beginning.

By the time Paul Coffey had his contract troubles cracks were beginning to form and a long run filled with Stanleys became a one decade ride for the ages.

I’m not complaining. It was the best hockey I’ve ever seen in my life. However, the one thing Oilers fans have never had is the luxury of having just one of their stars hang around for the twilight of their career. Hell, I’d be happy if we got the entire heart of one career!

Think about that. That is an incredible statement. ONE freaking career in 30 freaking years. The Oilers sent them all away, from Coffey to Gretzky to Kurri to Messier and on it went, and in very few cases they came back for a brief appearance at the end of the line.

Daryl Katz may not be a politician, but it appears he knows which way the wind blows. Driving around today and listening to the Team 1260 (Bob Stauffer, and then Bryn Griffiths and Jason Gregor) talk about the Katz press release it struck me that the timing for this announcement could not be better, and the brevity of the release is its own strength. Consider:

  1. The Oilers are not at this time near the cap and are unlikely to be any time soon
  2. The EIG have been angling for a sweetheart arena deal for many moons

Katz’ quotes in his press release:

  1. “I would play to the salary cap every year”
  2. “I am also prepared to make a significant additional investment of time and money towards the development of a new downtown arena facility for the team and the city if that’s what the people of Edmonton want”

He had just a few other items (mostly sugar coating the EIG) and that was it. I’m here, I want to win, I will spend the money and I will make a significant investment of money in a new arena. In another town this might not seem like a big thing, but in Edmonton resonates like a hammer on a drum.

We can’t bring Paul Coffey back, Wayne Gretzky is long gone. But the emergence of Daryl Katz at least allows us to talk about a time when we too can have a Joe Sakic for his entire career, we can enjoy Mike Modano every season of his career. For a fanbase that suffered through Peter Pocklington and Michael Largue and threats and promises and all of our heroes leaving in their prime, Daryl Katz is like manna from heaven.

Who could resist this?

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19 Responses to "Manna from Heaven"

  1. Art Vandelay says:

    His point No. 2 doesn’t exactly say he’d be paying for a new arena.
    It could be spun this way: “As long as the taxpaying suckers of Edmonton are willing to forego pothole repairs, snow removal, and new schools and instead build my millionaire employees a half-billion-dollar rink, I think I could make room in the budget to spend the extra $5-$10 million a year in player salaries.”
    Billionaires do not become so by spending their own money.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Art: It would be pretty hard to back away from today’s statement. He didn’t say “I’ll pay for the whole damn thing” but he did say he’s willing to contribute a significant amount of money to same.

    Has the EIG said they would commit a significant amount of money?

  3. IceDragoon says:

    Good evening, Lain.

    LOL… interesting

    Is this his complete statement?

    http://tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=214488&hubname=nhl

    … sorry … I’m old and would need patient guidance to attempt anything like a link.

    ………

    Funny you mention a hammer… ;-D

    Katz swings a mean velvet hammer & lays bare his silk screws in one seductive statement. – As an Oilers fan, I dare you to tell me your knees didn’t get a little wobbly reading his intentions.

    Looks like a tender takeover to me.

    L8r
    Louise

  4. Art Vandelay says:

    Has the EIG said they would commit a significant amount of money?
    Fair enough.
    I guess I’m cynical when it comes to team owners. Most of them are good at capitalism and a lot better at rent-seeking.
    I have to hand it to Katz for growing rich in an unregulated free market (unless you consider the minimum fee for filling a prescription a significant regulation, which I wouldn’t). So kudos to him.
    But even a dollar of taxpayers’ money put into a new arena is a dollar unjustifiably removed from someone who earned it (or on a municipal level, someone who owns property or indirectly pays property tax through rent) and put into the pocket of someone who didn’t.
    When Katz commits to paying for the entire arena himself (or foregoing the project entirely, it makes no difference to me), then I’ll be impressed.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Art: I agree completely that the ideal is an owner who does it without help from any level of government.

  6. Pat says:

    Art (love your name, by the way):

    I think your point re: the new arena is a good one. If Katz is any sort of a good businessman, he’ll try to put some of it on the taxpayers. We should really expect nothing less from him. But LT’s point is good too – has the EIG said anything about forking over any of their own money? I see Katz as a far more financially generous owner than the EIG ever was, or is even capable of being.

    I think that a successful Katz bid can begin the process of healing our reputation as an organization – and make no mistake, it does need healing.

  7. oilerdiehard says:

    I was on the fence with Katz because I had no idea what his intentions were.

    Today he cleared all of that up for me and said everything I wanted to hear and more.

  8. jon says:

    The new arena will be built regardless of the occurrences of the Oilers. Mayor Mandel has made it extremely clear to anyone in the know that the new arena complex will be his legacy as mayor of Edmonton. If anything, we should be pushing for the EIG and Katz to fight it out so that we as taxpayers contribute less proportionally because it eventually is going to be built and all that might change is how much we pay.

  9. raider says:

    Watching Hemsky until he is 35 sounds great, so does a new building. So now we should be able to keep our favorite players around. But another problem around here has been attracting UFA. As some people have posted, members of the EIG have been a little to vocal when it comes to discussing players. (Pronger,Smyth) Along with comments from George Laroque in the paper( that players do not want to play here because of the drama with management) I think that a change in ownership may help change the way many players view the oilers moving forward. If the oil can make those negitives into positives, maybe we will start to attract players in their prime.

  10. NBOilerFan says:

    You nailed it LT when you said that this public statement came at the right time. We all know how well the Oilers are doing financially since the lockout and we are still talking about self imposed team caps. Yes, I understand the notion that perhaps the EIG are possibly still recuping costs from past(?) but to me it just makes sence that spending money (close to the cap) makes you money (playoffs rounds).

    And as far as the new rink, yes, an owner that pays 100% is a dream, but having an owner that pays say 50% and city/government 50% sure sounds awful great to me over the option…. an owner paying 0% and the city/government paying 100%.

    Katz paid tribute to teh EIG for saving the team…. now its time to “pass the torch to a new generation of leadership”.

  11. Julian says:

    I just want to see him clear out Laforge and Nichols and get some new, fresh, non-moronic-statement making faces at the top. Rebuild that team culture that Edmonton was so proud of having a few years ago, it seems to have dried up a bit.

  12. Black Dog says:

    If you want to see what Cal Nichols thinks of Daryl Katz read Terry Jones’ column today. Apparently Katz is Satan’s spawn and he should not be trusted.

  13. O'Seven says:

    I haven’t read Jones yet, BD, but my first thinking here is why does Katz need to do his business in the papers? My guess is that he’s either hoping for resistant EIG members to feel public pressure to vote to sell (which they probably wouldn’t – the dollars do the talking), or that he doesn’t think all EIG members even hear his pitches through Nichols. Either way, I wonder about why he feels a need to splash his pitch accross the continent. Can’t he do business quietly? Is he more drama than the EIG ever was?

  14. rickibear says:

    O’seven: Katz is not an idiot. He is in a businees. That only has an icreasing need. As most people have said he is a quite man with large tastes.

    The board has obviously blocked him. EIG see a larger economic boon from a publicly funded arena with 30% greater seating capacity.

    Katz comes out and establishes a higher financial expectation of the team.

    EIG can no longer claim a nhl building needs to be 100% publicaly funded.

    It puts pressure on EIG to put up the money or sell.

  15. digger says:

    “If you want to see what Cal Nichols thinks of Daryl Katz read Terry Jones’ column today. Apparently Katz is Satan’s spawn and he should not be trusted.”

    Actually, Nichols wasn’t anywhere in that article. In fact, to my knowledge Cal Nichols hasn’t said one singular syllable since the formal offer came down. Interesting, that.

    According to Jones, we have Ron Hodgson and Larry Malelki puffing out their chests and talking tough, while Bruce Saville sounds like a man who’s willing to sell.

    Of those 3, which one has a larger piece of the pie that Katz covets?

    To me, Nichols’ silence and Saville’s wavering is more telling.

    And you have to snicker at Jones and his pathetic attempt at trying to portray a prospective owner publicy stating he wants to build a winner and is willing to spend to the cap every season as ‘warning bells’. For me, warning bells come from that junk ice making plant at Rexall that, 3 years after Nichols stated it needed replacing but the EIG wanted to see how the CBA shook down before dealing with it, still hasn’t been dealt with…and is churning out progressively worse ice for the Oilers to skate on 41 times a season, every year.

    If Katz wants this team, he will get this team eventually. It sounds like he has one foot in the door already, and if that’s the case then it’s only a matter of time.

  16. O'Seven says:

    Agreed. The publicity helps Katz’s, and the fans, causes whether he buys or not. Just a shame that all the drama is necessary, I guess, but it’s the way it is.

    On the other subject, when Smyth was said he wouldn’t take a home-town discount, it seemed to me to be short-sighted on his part to leave here for an extra million a year and lose the opportunity to become a Sakic, an Yzerman, a Modano. How much is status like that worth when you’re fifty or sixty?

    Tom Wilkinson probably gets new carpet installed every year. C’mon!

    Seriously, it would be nice to have the ability to both keep a guy and have a guy wise enough to see home-town value. In Canada, a local hockey legend is a national legend, isn’t he?

  17. namflashback says:

    Well, frankly I’m now in the Katz camp. Up until now, there was no evidence of his intentions with the team — and he has made a public declaration in this fashion. He is a very careful man with his public relations, so this was likely all part of his strategy.

    As to the capital costs of an arena — if I were Katz, I would offer up the property management contract to Northlands. They run bookings, concerts, and all sorts of non-hockey events. The current arena is a major source of revenue for Northlands — which would likely move into a deficit (requiring tax money to cull the shortfall). In exchange, Northlands/City put up some sort of consideration — such as the moneys already committed by the province for renos at the facillity.

  18. Asiaoil says:

    Consider the following when you try to understand the players lack of respect for the EDM ownership:

    …many players have a lot more more money than many of the owners.

    The Oilers ownership is made up of a lot of guys who are in the “mom and pop” category in an international business sense. They are small time and small change – just the reality of the situation when Puck bailed out. In no other time could these guys ever dream of owning a pro sports franchise – but frankly they are WAY out of their league.

    Attracting UFA is about big dollars and negotiating with the serious UFA almost always involves the ownership getting involved. With all of these small time owners in EDM – we look more like a junior A team than a serious big time franchise and there have been a lot of rumbling about this over the past years by players. A lot of the “drama” in EDM also comes from this approach which is like a local credit union attempting to play with the Royal Bank.

    Short story long – time for the “mom and pop” gang to sell to a real owner who has assets and a reputation necessary to play at this level. EIG was useful to get Puck out of here and keep the team in town during the rough years – but from here on out they are a liability.

  19. jerk clown says:

    FYI: I e-mailed Terry Jones yesterday, ‘cos his column really chapped my ass – and he e-mailed me back basically saying he was going to save my e-mail and get back to me when this was all over (in a “we’ll see who is right” tone).

    I basically accused him of cronyism and being an EIG mouthpiece…I don’t know why that bothered him….but said I looked forward to his reply (among other things).

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