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, 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 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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#3 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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#4 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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#5 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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#6 book¡e
April 17 2013, 11:27AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

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.

Sorry, I forgot you were easily offended. I should have gentler in pointing out how easily offended you are.

More seriously, where did I say anything about calm, competent leadership? What I mentioned was how offended some fans are about the 'two types of fans' comment which was pretty innocuous.

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#7 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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#8 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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#9 onlyoil
April 17 2013, 11:35AM
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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!

Here Here

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#10 Quicksilver ballet
April 17 2013, 01:56PM
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The appology is fine and all for those who needed it. What i'm worried about is, still, after almost 15 yrs, is his inability to separate his emotions while doing his job. How much longer is he going to let it get in the way of helping make his team a better hockey club. I hope MacT is smart enough to push Lowe to the backburner without Kevin even knowing it. He still struggles with the straight forward issues in dealing with the media.

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

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#12 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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#14 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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#15 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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#16 Todd
April 17 2013, 12:07PM
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wiseguy wrote:

There is a 3rd type of fan, those who are not really offended by Lowe but have seen him as the reason this franchise has failed for many years. Finally, smelling blood, we are piling on to criticize every misstep by Lowe including what pictures he's hanging on his wall, to see if we can finally push him off his pedestal.

People complaining about Lowe are like those complaining about the snow in Edmonton. Get over it. Its part of life here.

People need to get over it or move on. Move to a new city, pick a new team to cheer for, or just quit b1tching.

The never ending Lowe talk is only marginally less annoying than streams of people complaining about Edmonton weather on Facebook.

BRRR its cold. I hate the snow. This sucks. And my favorite... the people who then complain about it being too hot when it hits 29 degrees one day in July for 1 hour.

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#17 AcesAreHighNotLowe
April 17 2013, 01:03PM
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I'm surprised anyone is making this into a big deal.

In a business, paying customers will be treated differently than non-paying customers... Duh?!

Would you like Lowe to speak his mind and speak with emotion (in which case you'll have to take his words with a grain of salt) - or would you like him to talk like a public relations robot?

(PS. I'm in the non-paying customer category. My contribution is in my cable bill and maybe 2 games a year at Rexall)

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#18 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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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#22 outdoorzguy
April 17 2013, 10:18AM
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Apology not accepted. Pompous, Arrogant Idiot!!

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#23 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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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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#27 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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#28 wiseguy
April 17 2013, 11:55AM
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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!

There is a 3rd type of fan, those who are not really offended by Lowe but have seen him as the reason this franchise has failed for many years. Finally, smelling blood, we are piling on to criticize every misstep by Lowe including what pictures he's hanging on his wall, to see if we can finally push him off his pedestal.

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#29 book¡e
April 17 2013, 11:59AM
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@The Soup Fascist

I agree with everything you said with the exception of your last sentance.

It is possible to understand that Lowe is a bad manager and that the meaning of his statement regarding two types of fans was not a slam on those without seasons tickets. He said they care about all of their fans but make an extra effort to communicate with season ticket holders. Now half Edmonton are running around as though they were just martyred.

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#30 wiseguy
April 17 2013, 12:17PM
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@book¡e

There is a 3rd type of fan, those who are not really offended by Lowe but have seen him as the reason this franchise has failed for many years. Finally, smelling blood, we are piling on to criticize every misstep by Lowe including what pictures he's hanging on his wall, to see if we can finally push him off his pedestal.

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#31 Bucknuck
April 17 2013, 02:29PM
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Good of Lowe to Man up. I think his comments were taken differently than he intended, but as public speaker you should never generalize ANY kind of people into "types". It invariably pisses people off. It was a dumb move, and I am sure he took heat over it. Good.

Now lets please move on.

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#32 Crooked
April 17 2013, 03:23PM
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If Lowe was trying to offend me on Monday, he failed miserably. Maybe if he'd said something about the mothers of non-ticket holders being barnyard animals, followed by him grabbing his crotch, staring deep into the cameras screaming "Suck it!" it may have ruffled my feathers.

His detractors got from it what they wanted to hear. Personally, I'm more annoyed by the people who tried making it into a bigger deal than it was, especially the ones still going on about it 2 days later. Your two hobbies are watching sports, and whining, duly noted.

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#33 TigerUnderGlass
April 17 2013, 05:55PM
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@The Soup Fascist

As a shareholder of GM if I see the CEO videoconferencing a bunch of shareholders with a picture of a Mustang on the wall, I question his decision making.

Try again. This one is not analogous.

there are people who work for me whose opinions I value more than others for various reasons. I don't tell the others that their opinions mean less - even though in my mind they really do at times. It would demotivating and dumb.

Also not remotely analogous. I'd also question how you made the leap from "makes extra affort to communicate with A" to "B has opinions that don't matter". It doesn't follow.

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#34 Senhor
April 17 2013, 06:13PM
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Keep KLowe away from an open mic. Keep him away from managing anything. Great defenceman but a lousy hockey manager. Let him be the conduit to Katz as he said his job is but for Gods sake, keep him out of the "kitchen".

Let MacT do his job.

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#35 StHenriOilBomb
April 17 2013, 07:43PM
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rindog wrote:

But for every season ticket holder, there 10 or 20 fans that do not have season tickets.

I am a season ticket holder and quite honestly my opinion shouldn't matter anymore or anyless than someone who doesn't have season tickets.

And another thing to consider about season ticket holders is that a large portion of them are corporate businesses that may not necessarily gives a rats ass about the success of the team.

Maybe it shouldn't, but it does. Everyone in Montreal is important to my business (a little pool hall / bar), and those who live in the area are even more important. I will do my best to keep those folks happy, but really, the people who come and pay for table time, buy beers, and create an atmosphere that I can market are the ones who's opinion really matters to me. EVEN within those folks, the regulars who are there five times every week pay my rent and my salary, and for them I will do just about anything.

Maybe their opinion shouldn't mean more, but it certainly does.

Your final sentence is just one more reason that the Oilers can lose forever and be okay. The curse of a Canadian hockey city.

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#36 TigerUnderGlass
April 17 2013, 08:02PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Because you say it isn't ? If Lowe is representing the Oilers brand, addressing customers of the Oilers, I think it could be considered disrespectful to fly the brand of a competitor. You don't. Fine.

Lowe's clear message on Monday was all fans are equal, just some are more equal than others. I agree that in practical terms he has the right to believe this and act on it. My point is why in a self-admitted emotional time would you stress that point, when it alienates many you are addressing?

In either case, I just question the decision making employed. Despite any misgivings I have about the teams current state or Lowes performance I will continue to support the team and buy season tickets.

I have my views on his professionalism and intent. You have yours. Clearly this is a somewhat polarizing issue. You don't like my thought processes. No problem. Apply your own, such as they are.

I understand there are a lot of raw nerves given the collapse we have witnessed as fans this year and the long absence from the post-season. If there is some uber-sensitivities among the masses, I think it is understandable. This management is under the microscope and they should be IMO. At the end of the day I hope MacT is very successful and makes Lowe's decision look brilliant. Nothing would make me happier.

No. Because logic says so. Your comments were not analogous. My saying so is irrelevant.

I also never addressed whether or not it was or was not respectful (nor if that even matters), I merely pointed out that your analogies did not fit.

I have no idea how you presume to have determined my opinion on ANY matter based on my response to your comments.

I will, however, point out that he did not say, nor even imply, there are some fans "more equal", he said there are some fans with whom they communicate regularly.

What is your idea for communicating with ALL Oilers fans regularly? A nationwide referendum with local radio ads in every jurisdiction announcing local polling stations before major decisions? Perhaps they can send out mailers to anyone wearing a jersey? What do you have in mind?

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#37 Joel
April 17 2013, 08:42PM
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As I said yesterday before this apology.

When public figures make statements the rule of thumb is the first statement is the truth, the apology is politics.

Lowe your not fooling anyone, well maybe yourself.

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#38 bwar
April 17 2013, 09:11PM
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Lowe can gtfo

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#39 Eddie Edmonton
April 17 2013, 10:05PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:
Seriously. Spector spreads gossip in a negative whinny manner, I find that to be very feminine.

Because only women whine? huh.

Many of the posters here beg to differ.

If anyone is to whine it should only be women.

Many of those posters would probably agree and see things Spector's way.

MacKinnon was being a goo# and asking stupid questions to make a story out of. He mentioned on more than one occasion that he is asking on behalf of fans. I believe that is why Lowe drew the line between the fans. I believe he was throwing a jab at MacKinnon and the knowitall fans MacKinnon was representing: the ones who don't attend or watch the game properly, they just Monday Morning Quarterback on blog sites.

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#40 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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#41 Chuckpuck5000
April 17 2013, 09:26AM
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boo

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

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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 #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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#47 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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#48 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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#49 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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#50 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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