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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#51 Dave Lumley
April 17 2013, 11:17AM
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book¡e wrote:

Totally! if your twelve years old that is.

Wow.

Ligthen up for God's sakes. It is a commentary on the long held belief, here on the ON, on the incestous nature of the Oiler management.

A little too sensitve?

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#52 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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#53 Bryan in SK
April 17 2013, 11:32AM
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I'm good with the apology. Seems I've found myself with my foot in my mouth several times in emotional moments, leading to apologies to the people I love most. So, it's cool.

I live in Saskatchewan, and I don't get to Rexall very often, so for sure, I understand that from a business perspective, I am not as valuable to the Oilers as a season-ticket holder who buys drinks and food at 41 games per season. That's reality. All fans are equal, but some are more equal than others. Just like there are 23 spots on the roster, but some are more valuable to the team than others.

On that note... I'll be even happier when they fix the roster and win! Watching on TV or at Rexall, a good thumping of the Canucks or Flames makes me happy.

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#54 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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#55 book¡e
April 17 2013, 11:38AM
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Dave Lumley wrote:

Ligthen up for God's sakes. It is a commentary on the long held belief, here on the ON, on the incestous nature of the Oiler management.

A little too sensitve?

I am easily offended.

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#56 The Soup Fascist
April 17 2013, 11:47AM
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@book¡e

Ok. Taking personalities out of it - here is the issue, IMO. The emotional comments by KLowe ( misconstrued or not ) on Monday are a microcosm of his problems as a leader.

As a player, the bulk of us liked KLowe. Why? Primarily because of his emotion and passion. Why was he viewed as a "bright young coach" in his brief tenure as a head coach? Emotion and passion. What makes him a poor GM / president? His inability to control his emotion and passion.

The minute you are unable to make business decisions free of emotion - you are dead. The Handling of the Pronger / Souray departures - emotional. Holding out for a petty cash payback that quashed the Comrie for Perry deal - emotion. The spat with Burke - emotion.

What made Lowe a great player is his biggest handicap as a manager / leader of a business. Mondays missteps were a symptom of this missplaced emotion. I am sorry you can't see that.

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#57 Harlie
April 17 2013, 11:55AM
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Nice office chair KLowe! I'm sitting in the exact same one, Costco is great isn't it? Also, looks like your desk and shelving is from the Source Office Furniture. Man we could be like twins!

Oh, were you saying something Kevin? I don't bother with what you say until your face turns beat red and you give a death stare.

If that's ever a concern, that is.

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#58 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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#59 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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#60 rindog
April 17 2013, 11:59AM
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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.

This is a very fair statement.

I doubt that any of it will make a difference at all, but a interesting angle none the less...

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#61 book¡e
April 17 2013, 12:01PM
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@wiseguy

That's fair, but unless your name is Daryl and you are a billionaire, I don't think it will work.

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#62 rindog
April 17 2013, 12:04PM
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book¡e wrote:

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.

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.

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#63 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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#64 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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#65 pelhem grenville
April 17 2013, 12:26PM
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...all this gnashing of teeth...chrikey he only said there are two types of fans ... one type that spends big money and another that spends huge money...wtf boys and that odd girl out there ... i'm with book!e...(and how do you make that exclamation mark go upside down)...why play being the victim ???

dithers is gone...MacT is here to save the day

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#66 james_dean
April 17 2013, 12:28PM
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k lowe for premier!

betcha he wont spend $ like a drunken sailor red(ford sucks)

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#67 Todd
April 17 2013, 12:30PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...all this gnashing of teeth...chrikey he only said there are two types of fans ... one type that spends big money and another that spends huge money...wtf boys and that odd girl out there ... i'm with book!e...(and how do you make that exclamation mark go upside down)...why play being the victim ???

dithers is gone...MacT is here to save the day

DITHERS IS GONE? WTF did I miss

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#68 The Soup Fascist
April 17 2013, 12:36PM
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book¡e wrote:

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.

Ok. So two last things. I have met Kevin Lowe several times. He does not have horns, is a nice guy and genuinely cares for the team and community.

That notwithstanding two things you see as trivial concern me. 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. Also, as manager in my job 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.

My point was not that anyone should feel victimized but it is fair ball to question Lowe's decision making. Feel free to disagree.

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#69 jason
April 17 2013, 12:46PM
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i slammed kevin lowe pretty hard for his comments the other day. so i'd lito say thanks for manning up kevin, apology accepted, now it's time to let it go. look guys lowe, howsen and mact all know they screwed up in the past, do you honestly belive they want this team to fail? like it or not this is the managment team were stuck with for the forseeable future. kevin, craig and scott try and keep us in the loop spend time giving detailed explanations of time lines, why your doing the thinfs your doing and why your not doing other things, i understand you can't talk about players under contract, but you can do a beter job of keeping your fans in the loop.

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#70 yegCopywriter
April 17 2013, 12:48PM
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@andrewmk20

I think Lowe's perspective is that by preaching patience to season seat holders, they must be more patient than the average fan. You're probably right that in reality there's not much of a difference.

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#71 Pucker - B class
April 17 2013, 12:50PM
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Cheers to Lowe for the apology. It's something I don't recall ever hearing from the Oiler organization before.

I think I get what he was trying to communicate and there was no insult there. Season ticket holders that kick in thousands of dollars are very important in keep the Edmonton franchise viable. I appreciate that and they do deserve some recognition the team. Particular since there hasn't been much for hockey to watch these past few years.

I was great to hear the question from McKinnon. I hope he doesn't get blackballed by the Oilers, and that he gets recognition. We need more reporters asking these questions.

Lowe, MacT and Howson - I hope they've learned from their mistakes in the past and we see a turn around in the near future.

Some of the slate has been cleaned going forward.

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#72 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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#73 5 Cups
April 17 2013, 01:41PM
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Anyone notice the Rangers photo on the wall behind him? Obviously something to do with his days as a Ranger.

Not that I care I just think its funny.

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#74 Todd
April 17 2013, 01:42PM
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AcesAreHighNotLowe wrote:

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)

COMPLETELY agree. For 5 years we complained about Tambo and his pointless blathering about nothing in response to every question (if we were lucky enough to even hear from him at all).

We get a bit of emotion and fire and people are upset. Personally I like it. I wish Lowe had starting throwing things and gone totally WWE. Better to see someone get fired up and maybe say something dumb (gasp) than get the same old ramblings about patience.

GET OVER IT already.

In MacT we trust.

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#75 Turnover
April 17 2013, 01:45PM
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If he could really handle the heat, he would call a press conference and apoligize.

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#76 Turnover
April 17 2013, 01:46PM
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Apologize.

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#77 Hockeyfan_99
April 17 2013, 01:52PM
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Hmmm. First let me say i like mac t.... However, . Kevin should know better than to throw fans under the bus and even suggest there are two types of fans.. I guess i am second class. Here's what kind of fani am. I work 5 days a week. I watch every game on tv. I buy oilers merchandise and sip my morning coffee from an oilers mug while making toast in my oilers toaster and looking at the oilers jersey hanging on my wAll. Once or twice a season i can afford the time to cough up a few hundred to take my wife or son to a game. Apparently, i am a second class fan? Tv viewing and merchandise counts for nothing? I would guess that occasional attendence slobs like me have done lots to sell out every game for the last 6 losing seasons. I would also guess that without the revenues generated by the rest of us watching games on tv the oilers would be in a grim position. But hey. Thanks for the half assed apology... Ill still be watching next year....but maybe with zome skepticism..

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#78 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
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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#79 Dog Train
April 17 2013, 02:14PM
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Sensitivity is at an all-time high amongst Oilers fans right now. I am fed up and I know that a lot of other fans are sick and tired of losing. Lowe has been there the whole time so he won't get any slack from most fans, nor should he. It's a results oriented business and as Mactavish said, actions will speak louder than words could ever hope to. Lowe should leave the talking to Mactavish from now on.

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#80 JL
April 17 2013, 02:15PM
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The man can do as he pleases he won 6 cups, and assembled a great collection of talent through efforts of him and his management team. He said so himself.

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#81 t-dogg
April 17 2013, 02:16PM
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Dave Lumley wrote:

Ligthen up for God's sakes. It is a commentary on the long held belief, here on the ON, on the incestous nature of the Oiler management.

A little too sensitve?

BTW, it's actually nepotism, not incest. So choose your words more carefully (correctly).

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#82 Romanus
April 17 2013, 02:19PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

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.

I am hopefull for Mac t as well. He is a smart man. He has already said more in 2 days than tambo did his whole tenure. Tambo spoke a lot of words but never actually said anything.

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#83 TDSM31
April 17 2013, 02:21PM
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book¡e wrote:

I am easily offended.

No one that comes onto the Nation can be easily offended, you'd last 2 seconds. Methinks the reference to 'Anal Lube' just hit too close to home...

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#84 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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#85 The Fish
April 17 2013, 02:47PM
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book¡e wrote:

Totally! if your twelve years old that is.

Wow.

Wow hey? Is that humor too pedestrian for someone as refined as yourself? We shall watch what we post henceforth m'lord.

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#86 Dave Lumley
April 17 2013, 02:57PM
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t-dogg wrote:

BTW, it's actually nepotism, not incest. So choose your words more carefully (correctly).

No, I choose the word because I did have "family" in mind. Nepotism relates more to an undeserved, unearned reward, and the comment was about TDSM31 reference to the lube which would have made it "earned".

Whatever, just a funny comment that made me laugh out loud.

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#87 Micbilly99
April 17 2013, 03:15PM
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I strongly believe that Kevin Lowe showed his true colors during the press conference. He doesn't like getting questioned on his record as a General Manager or as the President. So when he does get questioned, he turns to what made him a tough hockey player to play against...a bully. He tried unsuccessfully to bully the reporter that asked the question every Edmontonian wanted asked, "you caused the problem, why should Oiler fans believe you can fix the problem?" Lowe reacted by getting angry and pulling out the fact that he won 6 Stanely Cups as a player. The fact remains, that under Lowes leadership the Oilers have not made the playoff in 7 years regardless of how many Cups he won as a player. Good players, even great players fail as executives. Just look at Michael Jordan's record and he is the best basketball player to ever play the game.

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#88 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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#89 Eddie Edmonton
April 17 2013, 03:24PM
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@Jonathan Willis

You and I know that was not the stupidest comment you've ever seen on the site.

You communicated with 90% of the fanbase? Amazing. But, if they are not "dumb sheep": what kind of sheep are they?

90 might of been an exaggeration, but I wouldn't go less than 40 for sure.

Seriously. Spector spreads gossip in a negative whinny manner, I find that to be very feminine.

I never said nothing about the range of opinion of the fans on this site.

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#90 TS
April 17 2013, 04:57PM
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Cost of the numerous Oiler Jerseys and other paraphenalia for me and my kids = $1000's

Cost of TVs, Cable, NHL package to watch the Oilers = $1000's

Cost of the occaisional Oiler game with my kids (not season tickets) = $500 per game

Kevin Lowe calling me a second tier fan = PRICELESS

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#91 All Class Fan ...(self proclaimed)
April 17 2013, 05:01PM
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I am an Oiler fan... I hear what I want to hear... I look blindly to the future... I complain about the present... I'm trying to relive the past... No wonder I'm so bitter.

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#92 TigerUnderGlass
April 17 2013, 05:42PM
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@Eddie Edmonton

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.

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#93 The Real Scuba Steve
April 17 2013, 05:48PM
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I wonder how many takes it took for him to keep that smile?

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#94 TigerUnderGlass
April 17 2013, 05:49PM
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@Micbilly99

Just look at Michael Jordan's record and he is the best basketball player to ever play the game.

Ignorance abounds. Neither part of this statement are correct.

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#95 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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#96 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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#97 The Soup Fascist
April 17 2013, 06:22PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:
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.

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.

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#98 Supernova
April 17 2013, 07:28PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Eddie Edmonton:

You've had two comments removed due to profanity. You're welcome to make the same point using other language if you'd like to.

is Eddie Edmonton really Kevin Lowe?

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#99 Gaz
April 17 2013, 07:41PM
Trash it!
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@ed back in canada

That's just silly.

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#100 StHenriOilBomb
April 17 2013, 07:43PM
Trash it!
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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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