Kevin Lowe: Edmonton Oilers “appreciate each and every fan”

Jonathan Willis
April 17 2013 09:20AM

After drawing some fire for heated comments made during the announcement of Criag MacTavish as general manager of the Oilers, club president Kevin Lowe issued a statement on Tuesday to clarify his remarks.

The key line:

First of all, we appreciate and are grateful to every one of our fans who cheer for us, through good times and bad. We understand that we see many of our fans at Rexall Place, but we have hundreds of thousands of fans that never get to Rexall Place. We appreciate each and every fan. I did not make that clear yesterday, and if I offended anyone, I apologize.

Lowe's statement is undoubtedly intended to address the answer he made to a question from Edmonton Journal reporter John MacKinnon, where he appeared to differentiate fans into two types based on whether they attended the games at Rexall:

We have two types of fans: we have paying customers and we have people that watch the game that we still care about but certainly the people that go to the games and support we spend a lot of time talking to them, delivering our message.

Making the clarification is a good move by an organization that in recent years has sorely tested its fanbase - both with poor performances off the ice and contentious arena negotiations that saw the owner issue an apology for his bargaining tactics. 

This clarification doesn't come close to the same tone as the letter - it's an 'if you were offended, I'm sorry' semi-apology, but it's also worth keeping in perspective what Lowe said originally. Naturally, any business will value the customer who pays more to a greater extent than the customer who pays less, and Lowe didn't even go that far - he simply stated that the two types existed and they communicate more with one than the other.

I suspect, because of the tone and language used, that some won't view Lowe or the team any more charitably now than they did immediately after the press conference. The problem is that the Oilers have been losing for a long time with Lowe, first in his latter years as general manager and over the entirety of his run as president, and because of that the team simply doesn't get the same amount of slack that a winning organization would. The clarification was a good thing to do, even if it was a little lacking in execution, but ultimately what will make things right with the fanbase is capable leadership from the new general manager and wins on the ice.  

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 mr_nihilism
April 17 2013, 09:25AM
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Hey, wait. Am I actually fist on this?

Nice backpeddling, Lowe.

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#2 Chuckpuck5000
April 17 2013, 09:26AM
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boo

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#3 freeze
April 17 2013, 09:27AM
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Too bad that he doesn't have any emotion in that clip. I didn't think his comment was as bad as it sounds but this kind of forced apology doesn't improve my opinion of him. He just needs to know when to keep his mouth shut.

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#4 hands mc dangles
April 17 2013, 09:27AM
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Go FIST yourself, Lowe.

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#5 hands mcdangles
April 17 2013, 09:28AM
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damnit!

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#6 Deep Oil
April 17 2013, 09:29AM
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Wow, great script - apology that Steve Hogle wrote for the foot in mouth media disaster.

Jonathon, could you please explain me to how Kevin Lowe via his owner can ask for taxpayer money in regards to the new arena, then ignorantly discount the taxpayers investment into the team. Also, 60% of the revenue or more is generated via television, radio, sponsorship which banks on non paying fans watch the brand - ads on the medium.

Sportsnet is taking KLOWE to task on his elitist attitude. I think his 6 cups as a player a blurring his judgement in management - what has he done for us off the ice ?

So how can Kevin Lowe treat most of Edmonton like 4th class passengers on the Titanic ?

As Mark Cuban has stated on other issues - MORE MEDIA TRAINING.

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#7 The Soup Fascist
April 17 2013, 09:31AM
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Not to pick nits, but do we really need to see a NY Rangers picture prominently displayed during an apology to Oilers fans?

Look I have ZERO background in public relations and don't pretend to be part of a "world class management team". But you took heat for three things, Kevin:

1) Alientating 99% of the fans of the Oilers

2) Playing the "I have 6 Stanley Cup rings" card

3) Bringing in more members of the Old boys club

Do you REALLY need a picture of a rival NHL team, where you won YOUR 6th cup, playing on a team that included your new GM MacT in the background?

Nitpicking - maybe. But, seriously shouldn't a professional PR person or member of a "world class management team" be able to buy a clue?

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#8 yegCopywriter
April 17 2013, 09:32AM
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In Lowe's original comments, it seems he was trying to say that the Oilers are able to communicate more with season seat holders about the rebuild process, so those fans generally have more patience with that process.

Of course he completely bungled it, but it seems like no one has tried to decode the bungling.

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#9 Serious Gord
April 17 2013, 09:33AM
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Glad to see that the calls by myself and others that he publically apologize have been acted upon.

That said, the toothpaste is out of the tube. It's pretty clear that what mr Lowe said at the GM announcement is what he really thinks, and that he is now towing the politically correct (and truly correct) line.

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#10 Spydyr
April 17 2013, 09:33AM
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Damage control.

If the Oilers have a PR director they should follow Tambo out the door.

If they don't have a PR director, why not.

Between Lowe and Katz someone is always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

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#11 #94 sized hole where my heart used to be...
April 17 2013, 09:34AM
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I would have liked more of an apology in his video, all he said was basically, "i screwed.. my bad.. but hey look at our shiny new managemanet regime" he could have easily cleared up his mistake by refrencing how they reach out to season seat holders via email to let them know the state of the franchise when they feel necessary and thats what he meant by "the fans that go to games" and that the heat of the moment made what he said come across differently.. not the best way to try to clear it up but i think thats better than the 2min he did give.. I just think that video isnt much of an apology.. just feels like an apology a parent forces out of their kid

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#12 Dave
April 17 2013, 09:37AM
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Good. Done. Now, steal a pg from Tamb and Katz and let MacT do the talking for you. Aside from Neely in Boston, how often do you hear Team Presidents talk, of 30 teams? Love Lowe, he just needs to check his emotion once in a while - it's what got him into trouble as GM - telling the media (and thus other GMs) what the Oilers were looking for in trades and thus making it impossible for him to acquire lest he overpay. I don't think for a second the interpretations of what he's said are a reflection of what he's really said. But he delivered them the way he did, and it's time to lay low(e).

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#13 DSF
April 17 2013, 09:37AM
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yegCopywriter wrote:

In Lowe's original comments, it seems he was trying to say that the Oilers are able to communicate more with season seat holders about the rebuild process, so those fans generally have more patience with that process.

Of course he completely bungled it, but it seems like no one has tried to decode the bungling.

Of course, the organization has the means to communicate with ALL fans as much as it decides it wants to.

But having the means apparently doesn't seem to have triggered the will to do so.

Considering the team owner is currently asking its fans of all stripes and non-fans to buck up for a new arena, Lowe's comments were much more than inappropriate and "passionate".

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#15 Deep Oil
April 17 2013, 09:42AM
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@Spydyr

The VP of PR is Steve Hogle, he went to high school with Daryl Katz - enough said.

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#16 Eddie Edmonton
April 17 2013, 09:43AM
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I don't blame Kevin Lowe for losing his cool. 90% of Oilers fans are dumb sheep. The sheep do not get their opinions and conclusions from watching the game or following the team. They get most of their opinions from following MSM and feminine men like MacKinnon and Spector.

I thought opinions were like a$$holes and everybody had one, Not the case for the Oilers fan base.

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#17 Rob...
April 17 2013, 09:46AM
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It's your move Mr. Katz. You can make this PR disaster go away by springing for the missing money in the Arena deal. We all know you've got the money, and that you'll get the investment money back in profits over the next 30 years.

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#18 ed back in canada
April 17 2013, 09:50AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

You might be right, but I can't bring myself to criticize a guy for having a picture of the last Stanley Cup team he was on in his office, or for not taking it down when making a statement.

If I bought a picture commemorating a triumph of a previous employer (who is now a compettitor) into my office I would be told it goes or you go.

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#19 mr_nihilism
April 17 2013, 09:51AM
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Eddie, what does Lowe losing his cool have to do with Edm. fans being able to form their own opinions?

Irrelevant troll, me thinks.

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#20 The Soup Fascist
April 17 2013, 09:51AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

You might be right, but I can't bring myself to criticize a guy for having a picture of the last Stanley Cup team he was on in his office, or for not taking it down when making a statement.

Fair enough. But there is a time and place for everything. If I am the CEO of RIM / Blackberry addressing my shareholders I am unlikely to have a picture of an Apple Iphone in the background - even if I invented it when I worked there.

Like I said - picking nits, and maybe it's just me, but I found it funny. I am glad he - sort of - apologized. I honestly liked KLowe as a hockey player and believe he loves the team and the city. But the team under his direct or indirect leadership has been, very charitably, lacklustre.

Edit: Sorry, ed back in canada. I see you said the same basic thing, but in a more concise manner. Not trying to ride your coat tails.

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#21 mr_nihilism
April 17 2013, 09:55AM
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@The Soup Fascist

To me it just proves not much thought or preperation went into this damage-mode apology. I suppose that in itself says something.

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#22 Chris.
April 17 2013, 09:56AM
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Eddie Edmonton wrote:

I don't blame Kevin Lowe for losing his cool. 90% of Oilers fans are dumb sheep. The sheep do not get their opinions and conclusions from watching the game or following the team. They get most of their opinions from following MSM and feminine men like MacKinnon and Spector.

I thought opinions were like a$$holes and everybody had one, Not the case for the Oilers fan base.

You should forward your resume to Rexall Sports and Entertainment.... sounds like you'd fit right in.

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#23 fyvmlowe
April 17 2013, 09:58AM
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2little2late.

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#24 non descript
April 17 2013, 10:01AM
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i think kevin lowes definition of world class management team might be slightly different than mine. unless of course his definition is a group of men who fail at their job repeatedly.

stay down lowe. every time you make a move you put your idiocy on display.

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#26 Klima's Mullet
April 17 2013, 10:05AM
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Dude needs to clean his office

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#28 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
April 17 2013, 10:06AM
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Apology rejected you arrogant pompous ass. This apology seemed more intent on selling us on a failed regime. We may now officially be the Islanders. Saddest era in Oiler management history?

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#29 geoilersgist
April 17 2013, 10:11AM
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@Eddie Edmonton

You realize that MacKinnon was the one who whipped out his pair and straight up asked KLowe how this management group was going to do more than the one that put the team in this position in the first place right?

BAAAAAAAAA

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#30 outdoorzguy
April 17 2013, 10:18AM
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Apology not accepted. Pompous, Arrogant Idiot!!

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#31 OilersBrass
April 17 2013, 10:19AM
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Hey JW, do you think Katz finally lost his cool on Lowe for his comments and forced him to do this?

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#32 OilW30
April 17 2013, 10:22AM
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Isn't the real problem with Lowe's comment that he implies that fans who are not season ticket holders don't understand what the team is doing--and that he uses that idea to defend his decisions against criticism? His point seemed to be that all the people who are fed up with the boys on the bus just don't know what they're talking about. It demonstrates just how delusional the team really is in terms of it's self-assessment and its understanding of its image.

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#33 TDSM31
April 17 2013, 10:24AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Not to pick nits, but do we really need to see a NY Rangers picture prominently displayed during an apology to Oilers fans?

Look I have ZERO background in public relations and don't pretend to be part of a "world class management team". But you took heat for three things, Kevin:

1) Alientating 99% of the fans of the Oilers

2) Playing the "I have 6 Stanley Cup rings" card

3) Bringing in more members of the Old boys club

Do you REALLY need a picture of a rival NHL team, where you won YOUR 6th cup, playing on a team that included your new GM MacT in the background?

Nitpicking - maybe. But, seriously shouldn't a professional PR person or member of a "world class management team" be able to buy a clue?

haha...good eye. I think the PR group was too busy clearing off the tubs of 'Anal Lube' from his desk to focus on anything else.

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#34 Rick
April 17 2013, 10:24AM
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Does anyone else get the feeling that 'the entitlement generation' has officially given way to 'the obligated to feel offended' generation?

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#35 season not played
April 17 2013, 10:24AM
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The fact that Klowe appears to be delusional might be part of the problem here.

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#36 DSF
April 17 2013, 10:25AM
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The best part was "We've got a world class management staff ".

Prove it.

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#37 Rob
April 17 2013, 10:31AM
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Someone at Rexall sports msust have recognized that Lowe is making a fool of himself and Katz' corporation. He has to go. I think he will be forced to retire quietly. They won't want to fire him fearing some splashback. But in my view no one is buying this ham-handed approach to Lowe's continual blunders and gaffes.

Note to Katz: hire a president who has more than a high school education next time.

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#38 book¡e
April 17 2013, 10:33AM
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The Edmonton Oilers have two types of fans.

1. Those who don't sweat the small stuff and who don't have comprehension problems.

2. Those who yearn to be victims, who twist statements to enhance their sense of victimization, and who obsess over the hidden meaning of pictures on the wall.

Don't cry for me Argentina!

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#39 book¡e
April 17 2013, 10:34AM
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Rick wrote:

Does anyone else get the feeling that 'the entitlement generation' has officially given way to 'the obligated to feel offended' generation?

How dare you say that! I am simply Horrified by your implication!

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#40 Dave Lumley
April 17 2013, 10:37AM
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A big fail on the sincerity meter. Plus a bit more of" What I said was this.. What I meant to say was ....."

He says he cares about all Oiler fans. A little elaboration on how that might be manifest or preceived, just so I can pay attention the next time "caring" happens.

While I have been a vocal supporter of Tambellini's rebuild plan, one of the places he had serious failures was communicating the stages of the rebuild and where in the rebuild he thought we were at. Quarterly reports would have been appropriate.

Oh well back to the same old, same old.

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#41 andrewmk20
April 17 2013, 10:39AM
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@yegCopywriter

I highly doubt that they have more patience. It's just easier to rag on someone when you aren't face to face with them. How often do we all talk trash about co-workers or "friends" behind their backs but once we're face to face with them it's all "everything's okay, we all get along!". It's incredibly difficult to tell a bunch of guys in suits who you know are at a high management level how you really feel. I'd imagine it's about as intimidating as telling your boss/manager how you actually feel about your company right to his face. Confrontation is uncomfortable as proven by Monday's press conference when the Edmonton media actually pressed Lowe on some pressure point issues. I'd imagine the fans in the seats at Rexall feel the same as us. It's just so easy for the rest of us to tear something down from in front of our keyboards or calling into the 630 CHED to complain, not so much with your mouth in a face to face.

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#42 Dave Lumley
April 17 2013, 10:42AM
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TDSM31 wrote:

haha...good eye. I think the PR group was too busy clearing off the tubs of 'Anal Lube' from his desk to focus on anything else.

Seriously one of the funniest posts ever! I actually did laugh out loud.

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#43 andrewmk20
April 17 2013, 10:42AM
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Also that was hilarious from Lower. He looked like he was being held hostage by the ego police and forced to apologize for his d-baggery. Completely the opposite of his inflammatory comments in that they seemed 100% insincere, he actually showed tons of passion in his statement about his cups and being a "wiener", sorry winner. Freudian slip.

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#44 book¡e
April 17 2013, 10:43AM
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@Jonathan Willis

I agree with your critique of the style of the comment, but there is truth in the notion that the majority of the fans simply follow along with the common media theme of the day. Oilers Nation commentators are not representative of the masses. I am sometimes amazed at how many of the 'fans' I know simply repeat whatever the media fed them the week before.

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#45 book¡e
April 17 2013, 10:47AM
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Dave Lumley wrote:

Seriously one of the funniest posts ever! I actually did laugh out loud.

Totally! if your twelve years old that is.

Wow.

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#46 Rob...
April 17 2013, 10:49AM
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book¡e wrote:

I agree with your critique of the style of the comment, but there is truth in the notion that the majority of the fans simply follow along with the common media theme of the day. Oilers Nation commentators are not representative of the masses. I am sometimes amazed at how many of the 'fans' I know simply repeat whatever the media fed them the week before.

Your comment could as easily be applied to life in general.

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#47 VK63
April 17 2013, 10:51AM
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WOW.

Alberta NHL teams are knocking it out of the park this year huh?

If you are going to issue an "apology" at least take the time to present a product worthy of the perceived transgression.

World class....... meh.

M I C..... K.E.Y>> MOU.SE

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#48 Zamboni Driver
April 17 2013, 10:51AM
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I think this is a totally fine apology.

I use it all the time on my wife.

"If you took it the wrong way when I said your friend has great cans.

THEN I'm sorry."

It is a perfectly reasonable apology, and works every time.

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#49 madjam
April 17 2013, 10:56AM
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Sounds like most are more worried about Lowe being too intrusive , meddling and vetoeing MacT. moves . Lowe's credibility among a lot of fans , is far worse than i imagined . Culture change artificial being it's the boys club ? MacT. i hope will change that despite Lowe .

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#50 The Soup Fascist
April 17 2013, 11:00AM
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book¡e wrote:

The Edmonton Oilers have two types of fans.

1. Those who don't sweat the small stuff and who don't have comprehension problems.

2. Those who yearn to be victims, who twist statements to enhance their sense of victimization, and who obsess over the hidden meaning of pictures on the wall.

Don't cry for me Argentina!

Not sure why you assume I am a victim because I think it is poor form and plain old dumb to address customers with a portrait depicting a direct competitor in the background. PR and common sense 101.

In actuality, I am a "Class A" patron ( Masters was great this year) who thought his publicly placing season ticket holders above others was also dumb. Especially when I make up the vast minority of his fan base. But I am curious about your business acumen that would lead you to believe any of his performance on Monday exuded calm, competent leadership.

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