Part I: The State of the Franchise

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Let’s assume for a moment that Katz buys the team. We understand in talking to some people that the sale has already gone through behind closed doors. He’s taking over a franchise that has a sold-out building every night, a solid crop of young players and the sweet rememberances of an unlikely Stanley Cup run two years ago.

But will this be enough for a man who has publicly said that he is going to spend to the cap each year, build a new arena and a practice facility? We know how short patience is running in the OilersNation with this current team. We have a tough time figuring this squad out. Are they a good young team with a goaltending tandem better than we have seen in years? Some nights they seem to be, as evidenced with the 9-3-1 run in Nov/Dec. Then they gas six straight and seem to be a rudderless ship that is just drifting along waiting to be torpedoed.

Our support of the Oil runs far less than Katz – plunking down $200 mil for the team, an additional $100 mil towards a new arena and $55 odd mil per year on salaries. One would have to assume that Katz is going to want to put his stamp on the team, and will not be buying into the small market mentality that has dogged this franchise for so long.

It’s about time that we shed the image of Edmonton being a small-market team that cannot afford its players. This isn’t 1996, people. The Alberta economy is growing at a faster clip than any other economic zone in North America and Europe. The Canadian dollar now slaps around the American Peso for the fun of it. There is a hard salary cap in place guaranteeing Glen Sather can’t come and offer Jarrett Stoll US $11 million per year to bring Rachel Hunter to NYC.

When the Katz deal goes through, he’s going to want to start to hang some banners of his own in the new arena. The question needs to be asked: Why can’t the Oilers franchise build a perennial Cup contender? If the the current Oilers regime can’t build a Red Wings-type franchise – drafting well, hanging on to their stars and not sweating the out-of-town scoreboard down the stretch – will Katz go and find people that will?

The EIG did an admirable job saving the Oil from bouncing out of town. But let’s remember that winning the Cup at all costs wasn’t exactly their top priority. Just being around and in the league seemed good enough, and we thank them for allowing the Oilers to be around – Jets fans would love to be critisizing the 30th powerplay in the league. But fast forward one decade. Where is the accountability? Why aren’t fans and the media alike DEMANDING a better team? Since when did it become OK to merely ice a bunch of also-rans? Is that what Mr Rexall is shelling out close to $300 million to buy?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I'm on sold on a new owner being the savior of the team. A new arena doesn't mean the Stanley Cup will want to visit. I suppose if Lowe isn't spending to the cap, he and Katz will discuss it.

    But this is a business deal, and what impact that has on this team (which is not at risk of being run out of town at this point) remains to be seen.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Good article – I disagree that the commitment to winning isn't there. MacTavish and Lowe have both won cups and know what it takes to get there. I think the Pronger debacle has a lot to do with why players don't want to come here. But Souray seems to like it here as do the rest of the summer signings…