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:
- The Oilers are not at this time near the cap and are unlikely to be any time soon
- The EIG have been angling for a sweetheart arena deal for many moons
Katz’ quotes in his press release:
- “I would play to the salary cap every year”
- “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?