February 13 2010 11:51PM
I thought it fitting to wait until Valentine's Day to have a go at the angst and moping by some members of the local media, those who've been in full sulk after being shown the cold shoulder by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz.
Judging by some of the reaction to the interview Katz did with Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer after a 19-month silence -- an interlude that obviously chafed the owner's notepad-toting suitors at both dailies -- DK couldn't have bruised more feelings if he'd broken up with them at the junior prom.
John MacKinnon, columnist and deep-thinker at The Journal, and Derek VanDiest, the junior hockey writer at The Sun, both took swipes at Katz and Stauffer when the owner opted to deliver his message through an employee Thursday rather than speak with them or their respective outlets. Following are excerpts from both. In the name of context, feel free to read the entire articles. These passages, though, more than adequately reflect the tone of both.
When reading, I'd suggest humming either Paper Roses by Marie Osmond, Love Hurts by Nazareth or whatever makes you feel sorry for yourself.
Just to set the mood.
POOR PITIFUL ME
"Daryl Katz can't have it both ways.
If the Edmonton Oilers owner is to bring credibility to his franchise and restore confidence in his hockey team, he can't be selective in what media outlet he uses to distribute his message.
Especially when that message is disguised as a legitimate interview devoid of an agenda.
There was nothing journalistic about Katz's statements to his hand-picked employee, hired as the team's radio colour commentator days after taking ownership of the club.
Pure and simple, it was a propaganda ploy to gain public support of his downtown arena vision, while appealing to fans to continue spending their hard-earned dollars to watch a club wallow through the worst year in team history with no immediate relief in sight."
"The public dialogue on the downtown arena district stumbled into the fiefdom of the weird on Thursday. Which should be impossible. Not to mention avoidable and unnecessary.
On Thursday, after a self-imposed, 19-month media silence, Oilers owner Daryl Katz was heard from on the NHL team he owns and on his downtown arena proposal. But he spoke by way of a canned infomercial in which he responded to queries lobbed at him by an employee.
In a city with a well-known aversion to pretension, real or imagined, that approach is perceived as offensively aristocratic. Not to mention insufficient. Which is a shame given the importance of a meaningful, comprehensive dialogue on this issue."
HELL HATH NO FURY . . .
The way I see it, there are two overlapping issues here.
First, there's the question of Stauffer getting the interview everyone in town wanted. Second, what was delivered in the interview itself.
With the former, I find it laughable, not to mention ironic, wags are up in arms that Stauffer has access to Katz and they don't. The fact is, a lot of the people doing the moaning are the same people who, less than two years ago, were looking down their noses and rolling their eyes at Stauffer when it was suggested he had a pipeline to Katz -- a relationship struck before he became an employee of Rexall Sports and the Oilers. Right, Bob. Sure, Bob. Whatever, loudmouth.
As it turns out, it's true. That pisses them off to no end. They're envious. They don't have an inside track. Likewise, that pisses their bosses and editors off to no end. That, not this feeble façade that "the people have a right to know" is the real bottom line.
They don't have access like Stauffer, the "hand-picked employee" who struck a relationship with Katz when he was the most vocal critic of the team, back in the days of Total Sports on TEAM 1260.
In a town where certain members of the media expect Katz to talk to them just because Cal Nichols and the old EIG did, his unwillingness to play ball by their rules has been a blow to their feelings of entitlement.
This "the people have a right to know" charade is more a case of "I have a right to get the story first," or, more accurately, "I have a right to at least get a saw-off on the story." Playing for the tie is the rule rather than the exception around here. It's a sense of entitlement that caused Terry Jones at The Sun to try to call out Katz several weeks ago.
I couldn't help but wonder if he was jumping up and down and stomping his feet as he tapped the keys. Now, the sniffing about a "propaganda ploy" and "he can't be selective." Actually, yes, he can.
They can't even be honest why they're so sour.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
As for the second part, no, Stauffer didn't shine a light in Katz's eyes and work him over with a rubber hose. He works for the man, so I'm wondering how anybody could be really surprised this wasn't an interrogation. Did you really expect one? Did Stauffer press the boss? No. Did he toss him any curveballs? No. What we got Thursday was about as hard-hitting as an Eskimos program piece or an Oilers playoff supplement (in the days long ago when one was necessary).
Katz delivered about what I expected. As for the pathetic state of the team right now, did anybody expect him to get more specific than he did? I'm thinking some clarity on that is best left for president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Steve Tambellini and maybe assistant GM Kevin Prendergast. When will they say something meaningful? Do you expect Katz to dissect the mess fans have seen on the ice?
As for laying out his vision of a new arena for the team, Katz used an equally broad brush, offering next-to-no details. It goes without saying he'll have to get a helluva lot more specific if he expects to dip into the public purse to get this thing done. I'm guessing every detail will be brought forward in good time and behind closed doors before it hits the headlines. Did it have to happen Thursday in Katz's interview with Stauffer? It would have been enlightening, but no. Will this be Katz's final interview on the state of the nation and arena plans? No.
I wouldn't be surprised if Katz does sit down in the next few weeks and get into more detail. And I wouldn't be surprised if somebody like Dan Barnes, and even Jones, despite his tantrum, get their chance to take a swing at the issues with the boss. If that happens, knowing reporters as I do, I fully expect those who don't get in on the action to downplay, dismiss and criticize the questions whoever it is might ask. If they don't get their scrum, don't get spoon-fed their tie, they'll be pissed. Just like they are with Stauffer.
Let me ask you this: if Barnes and Jones get a sit-down, do you think we'll hear one word from The Journal or The Sun that Katz "can't be selective in what media outlet he uses to distribute his message?' Not a chance.
Truth is, I'd like it if Katz would answer some of my questions here on Oilersnation. I think he should. I'm not holding my breath of course, and I can also tell you this: if it doesn't happen and somebody else gets Katz, I won't be cloaking my envy in "The people have a right to know" when the truth is I'm just pissed I didn't get the story.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.