I thought it fitting to wait until Valentine’s Day to have a go at the angst and moping by some members of the local media, those who’ve been in full sulk after being shown the cold shoulder by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz.

Judging by some of the reaction to the interview Katz did with Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer after a 19-month silence — an interlude that obviously chafed the owner’s notepad-toting suitors at both dailies — DK couldn’t have bruised more feelings if he’d broken up with them at the junior prom.

John MacKinnon, columnist and deep-thinker at The Journal, and Derek VanDiest, the junior hockey writer at The Sun, both took swipes at Katz and Stauffer when the owner opted to deliver his message through an employee Thursday rather than speak with them or their respective outlets. Following are excerpts from both. In the name of context, feel free to read the entire articles. These passages, though, more than adequately reflect the tone of both.

When reading, I’d suggest humming either Paper Roses by Marie Osmond, Love Hurts by Nazareth or whatever makes you feel sorry for yourself.

Just to set the mood.


First, from VanDiest at the Sun:

"Daryl Katz can’t have it both ways.

If the Edmonton Oilers owner is to bring credibility to his franchise and restore confidence in his hockey team, he can’t be selective in what media outlet he uses to distribute his message.

Especially when that message is disguised as a legitimate interview devoid of an agenda.

There was nothing journalistic about Katz’s statements to his hand-picked employee, hired as the team’s radio colour commentator days after taking ownership of the club.

Pure and simple, it was a propaganda ploy to gain public support of his downtown arena vision, while appealing to fans to continue spending their hard-earned dollars to watch a club wallow through the worst year in team history with no immediate relief in sight."

Now, MacKinnon at The Journal:

"The public dialogue on the downtown arena district stumbled into the fiefdom of the weird on Thursday. Which should be impossible. Not to mention avoidable and unnecessary.

On Thursday, after a self-imposed, 19-month media silence, Oilers owner Daryl Katz was heard from on the NHL team he owns and on his downtown arena proposal. But he spoke by way of a canned infomercial in which he responded to queries lobbed at him by an employee.

In a city with a well-known aversion to pretension, real or imagined, that approach is perceived as offensively aristocratic. Not to mention insufficient. Which is a shame given the importance of a meaningful, comprehensive dialogue on this issue."


The way I see it, there are two overlapping issues here.

First, there’s the question of Stauffer getting the interview everyone in town wanted. Second, what was delivered in the interview itself.

With the former, I find it laughable, not to mention ironic, wags are up in arms that Stauffer has access to Katz and they don’t. The fact is, a lot of the people doing the moaning are the same people who, less than two years ago, were looking down their noses and rolling their eyes at Stauffer when it was suggested he had a pipeline to Katz — a relationship struck before he became an employee of Rexall Sports and the Oilers. Right, Bob. Sure, Bob. Whatever, loudmouth.

As it turns out, it’s true. That pisses them off to no end. They’re envious. They don’t have an inside track. Likewise, that pisses their bosses and editors off to no end. That, not this feeble façade that "the people have a right to know" is the real bottom line.

They don’t have access like Stauffer, the "hand-picked employee" who struck a relationship with Katz when he was the most vocal critic of the team, back in the days of Total Sports on TEAM 1260.

In a town where certain members of the media expect Katz to talk to them just because Cal Nichols and the old EIG did, his unwillingness to play ball by their rules has been a blow to their feelings of entitlement.

This "the people have a right to know" charade is more a case of "I have a right to get the story first," or, more accurately, "I have a right to at least get a saw-off on the story." Playing for the tie is the rule rather than the exception around here. It’s a sense of entitlement that caused Terry Jones at The Sun to try to call out Katz several weeks ago.

I couldn’t help but wonder if he was jumping up and down and stomping his feet as he tapped the keys. Now, the sniffing about a "propaganda ploy" and "he can’t be selective." Actually, yes, he can.

They can’t even be honest why they’re so sour.


As for the second part, no, Stauffer didn’t shine a light in Katz’s eyes and work him over with a rubber hose. He works for the man, so I’m wondering how anybody could be really surprised this wasn’t an interrogation. Did you really expect one? Did Stauffer press the boss? No. Did he toss him any curveballs? No. What we got Thursday was about as hard-hitting as an Eskimos program piece or an Oilers playoff supplement (in the days long ago when one was necessary).

Katz delivered about what I expected. As for the pathetic state of the team right now, did anybody expect him to get more specific than he did? I’m thinking some clarity on that is best left for president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Steve Tambellini and maybe assistant GM Kevin Prendergast. When will they say something meaningful? Do you expect Katz to dissect the mess fans have seen on the ice?

As for laying out his vision of a new arena for the team, Katz used an equally broad brush, offering next-to-no details. It goes without saying he’ll have to get a helluva lot more specific if he expects to dip into the public purse to get this thing done. I’m guessing every detail will be brought forward in good time and behind closed doors before it hits the headlines. Did it have to happen Thursday in Katz’s interview with Stauffer? It would have been enlightening, but no. Will this be Katz’s final interview on the state of the nation and arena plans? No.


I wouldn’t be surprised if Katz does sit down in the next few weeks and get into more detail. And I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like Dan Barnes, and even Jones, despite his tantrum, get their chance to take a swing at the issues with the boss. If that happens, knowing reporters as I do, I fully expect those who don’t get in on the action to downplay, dismiss and criticize the questions whoever it is might ask. If they don’t get their scrum, don’t get spoon-fed their tie, they’ll be pissed. Just like they are with Stauffer.

Let me ask you this: if Barnes and Jones get a sit-down, do you think we’ll hear one word from The Journal or The Sun that Katz "can’t be selective in what media outlet he uses to distribute his message?’ Not a chance.

Truth is, I’d like it if Katz would answer some of my questions here on Oilersnation. I think he should. I’m not holding my breath of course, and I can also tell you this: if it doesn’t happen and somebody else gets Katz, I won’t be cloaking my envy in "The people have a right to know" when the truth is I’m just pissed I didn’t get the story.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Mitch

    Robin another great article by you I must say. The only articles I read with joy on the oilers is yours of course, Jones, Barnes,and Matheson. The other writers on the Oilers are very boring and no fun to read.

    Edmonton is going to get a new arena sometime in the future, the politics just have not been worked out yet.

    If you ever have the opportunity to ask Mr. Katz a series of questions,can you please ask him why nhl players continually choose to look at Edmonton as one of the worst places to play in the NHL and what his management team is doing to change that perception. There is a major issue here that is very deep, more than just weather, money and maybe there wife don't like living here.

    Untill we can fix that it doesn't matter how much Horcoff's contract is, who will they buyout, where will they locate the arena, who they draft, where they are in the standings.

    To have a successfull NHL franshise you have got to be right at every level drafting, trading, free agency, management, ownership there's probably more. That's where Edmonton been wrong for about 20 yrs! Hollycow look are the oilers really in last place?

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      The perception is ours only. We are our own worst enemy. Edmonton has to have the highest expectations with the lowest self esteem and self confidence in the Country. For every success we continually find fault. We have an INDY race and complain about noise and attendance (even though other cities would love the race) we have art, culture, and everything else we brag about when forced to but criticize whenever we have a chance. The Art Gallery is great when other people (non Edmontonians like it) and sucks when we talk about it publicly. In the openness of the media and internet do you really think NHL players reluctance to play in Edmonton has anything to do with Edmonton? Our Hockey tradition? Perhaps to a few players and their wives but this argument applies to 2/3 of the teams, not just Edmonton.

      The players that get the media attention want 2 things – money and to win. The team, the weather, the girls, the taxes, and whatever else are secondary.
      There should be a ban about blaming our woes in life and terrible record on the fact that everyone thinks Edmonton is a terrible place to live – it’s not and people smarter than me can pull the stats out to support it (hours of sunshine, fantastic education and health systems, green space, low taxes, blah blah blah.). The same people who bitch about Edmonton and our status in the world are the same people against the Downtown Arena and plans – it’s time to grow up people.
      This team sucks because it’s been managed poorly – plain and simple, stop blaming everything else! The template of an Oiler team was abandoned a long time ago. Until we return to speed, grit, toughness, goaltending, and effort, the Oiler fans will continue to be unhappy. We know what a good team looks like, we’ve seen it first hand, and that’s the problem – they can’t pull the wool over our eyes.

      • Mitch

        Very well put I must say. I love how you put the template of a oiler was abandonded a long time ago. I get tired of listening to Horcoff and Moreau talk about the state of the team there not oilers!! As the above mentioned you got it all right with the speed, gritt.. ect don't forget the skill, and no they will not pull the wool over a die hard Oiler fan!!!

        Failure will not be accepted Tambo get down to business.

  • Aleslav Smidsky wrote:

    The citizens and fans are becoming more and more a bunch a spoiled whiners.

    Again, bang on. How dare questions be asked before the city pours in half a billion dollars on the basis of 'trust me, I'm Daryl Katz.'

    The city should be ashamed of itself.

    • That's a bit of a simplification don't you think? I don't think there are any questions being asked – that's the problem. It's just yelling and "no ways" at this point.

      Have you seen anyone ask the repayment terms of his proposed annuity? Has anyone taken the time to calculate the returns on the increased property tax and taken the time to see if it would actually BE a good investment for city dollars? I don't know that it is, but I have seen nothing intelligent calculating anything either way.

      The lack of questions by a media too busy pouting is what is only going to make this worse.

      • I agree. Taxpayers wanting answers doesn't amount to them being whiners. They should expect, and get, full disclosure about what any agreement including tax dollars entails. That's a no-brainer. That has to be spelled out, or least accurately projected, for good or bad.

        Katz failed to give any details in his interview, so that's not up to debate. At the same time, it should shock nobody, given the forum that was chosen. Eleven minutes with Stauffer doesn't constitute the end of the debate. It was an opening statement, big picture stuff with no details and anybody with a brain sees it as that.

      • HottScarrison

        At a billion dollars of development, since Katz has run away from the arena – the tax levy would be $14 million per year plus future value of inflation – offset by interest costs for easy math.

        Bottom line – 30 years, principal only to pay off the arena, many more years with the interest cost.

        This is Alberta, where have all the entrepeneur's gone….. just charge every season ticket holder $2000 dollars – $25K and fund the arena that Katz wants, but cannot afford. This is not new, this is not rocket science.

        Times are tough, alleged billionaires are donating to the art gallery, (Good to have you back we haven't worried about being sued in ages – WG) .

        No public money for the arena, pay to play.

  • @ Wanye:

    As a preface: I don't actually have any problem with Katz. He's a businessman, and I wish him nothing but success with the Oilers.

    My blunt comment was directed at Aleslav Smidsky, who prefers to attack anyone who thinks Katz hasn't presented enough evidence at this point.

    As I see it, were I King of Edmonton, I need to see a compelling case that I'm likely to recoup any investment I make in an arena. That case hasn't been made, and Katz has the obligation to make it if he wants my money. He has no right to my money; he has to sell me on the project, just like he'd have to sell a bank or a business partner.

    As King of Edmonton, I don't hold any anger towards Katz at this point – just a complete reluctance to part with my money until I see a better reason then 'all the world class cities are doing it' or 'trust me, I'm Daryl Katz and I have your city's best interests at heart'.

    Katz pleads in his Journal piece for people to listen to him. I think they should – but I also think he needs to say something of substance, which he hasn't done to this point.

  • Slapshot

    I do not care what Daryl Katz has to say,I want results on the ice and entertainment for my seasons tickets,If the Oilers organization thinks that a staged interview will change my mind they have a surprise waiting for them at renewal time,This interview is like the Tamballini season ending interview,alot of hot air with no substance,The fact that Katz refers to his GM as Tambi, in the interview and that he will do whatever it takes to get the job done, means Tambi will not be going anywhere.If I took as long as Tamballini has assesing the Oilers with my business, I would have shut my doors a long time ago.The Oilers organization from the top to bottom is a joke and the results are showing not only with the Oilers,but with the AHL team and the Oil kings and oh ya lets not forget the last place ECHL team.Nothing short of a complete overhaul will fix this mess,the clowns that are in management with the Oilers now, will continue to run this circus, until we fans stop going to hockey games.

    • HottScarrison

      And then when fans stop going it gives Katz an advantage is his arena proposal by arguing that he could move the team due to lack of interest and therefore hold the city ransom with that threat.

      Its wrong and as I've said before thats how the non-hockey fans are viewing this whole situation and they think its wrong. The fact that nothing's being done or said fuels the fire.

      Katz could be dedicated to the Oilers but he is not coming across that way right now. he is dedicated to himself and the alimighty dollar.

      I hope to god thats not the big picture here and it should be the media's job to figure that out.

      Time will tell though. Tambi guts the team, makes some moves gives us a taste of the plan being put forward and public scrutiny will be far less harsh.

      • Slapshot

        The Oilers organization comes off as if they are entitled to have a full building,to me they have done nothing but spew propaganda for the last few years and the results have not been there on the ice,I will not continue to support this team with my seasons tickets, if the results and entertainment dollar is not there,and this is not only true about myself,there are other season ticket holders that have had enough as well,If katz starts playing the I will move this team card he will have a big surprise waiting for him,It will not only affect him personally but also finacially.

          • Deke Rivers

            Or the same organization that has a pay per view game during a world junior final that is almost guaranteed to have Canada in it?

            These people aren't smart. Chicago's organization was run into the ground by incompetence, and a crap owner. I can see the same thing happening to this team.

          • WoW! Are you fcuking serious?? Really? Do you think the Oilers organization makes the whole NHL schedule?????? Or if Sportsnet had a choice to show the Olympics or a Oilers game, they would go with the Oilers? Where else are you going to show the game for a few people that want to watch it, PPV?

            This was a perfect example of people complaining, without thought.
            What people aren't smart?

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            What does showing a game on ppv have to do with the Oilers making the entire NHL schedule?

            "Where else are you going to show the game for a few people that want to watch it, PPV?"

            Umm….how about City TV like they used to do before this pay per view thing came to be. PPV is a cash grab for the Oilers knowing their fanbase will do pretty much whatever.

        • HottScarrison

          I agree wholeheartedly. Im also glad that there is season-ticket holders out there that feel that way. Thats who they will listen to(hopefully).

          Its a sad sad time right now and when things are down the negative-nancy's come out(im playin that role right now). Time will tell.

          @ smidsky

          The 23rd ave interchange benefits the city and after its built no-one profits but the drivers of the road who use it.It was necessary. Once the arena is built, who profits? Katz or the city and its citizens? its unclear right now who will?

  • @Willis, Brownlee, DeepOil

    Don't get me wrong, I think that Katz's reluctance to throw the media and the citizens a bone and have a fireside chat isn't going to help him push an arena project through. You are right, this is a time for transparency and genuine discussion.

    I also don't think Katz gets enough credit for trying to develop a big chunk of Edmonton. Say what you want about his motives Willis, there simply aren't enough successful Edmontonians looking to develop the City in "intelligent self interest."

    All I'm saying is that this project is still extremely early in the planning stages – the overall nature of the development isn't known so neither will a detailed cost analysis. Katz can't come to the masses with a detailed plan as there simply can't be one without further buy in and the project moving along.

    DeepOil has done the first and only calculations I have seen to date on what the Arena could bring back into City coffers and I thank him for it.

    Someone in the MSM with access to City Hall and a Tax Lawyer could bang out an indepth piece that would shed all sorts of light on the finances around a project of this type but that won't come ever come to light.

    Further question to deepoil: are you suggesting paying for the arena with Seat Licenses? I thought you hated that idea.

    • Using a PSL would eleminate of all this BS and allow ground breaking by years end. My comments for PSL have been negative due to the fact that public money was involved, if you take it out, Northlands is shown the door and AEG can run this top shelf, instead of a bunch of farmers.

      I dislike owners using public money to build an arena, and then double dipping with a PSL.
      This was done in Columbus with a $1300 per year seat license, maybe some error here as the internet was vague.

      I have vetted my alarm for this to occur.
      Note how Katz wishes to be part of the development and still have free rent for the Oil and Kings. That is a form of double dipping.

      Not communicating DIRECTLY with the public is the downfall of this lobby…. Katz can hire a few more lobbyists (JF), but public opinion is more valuable than a few bureaucrats, trust me.

      Show me the money, being a billionaire can have it's downfalls when you owe more than a billion dollars, just ask George Gillette or Tom Hicks. Most billionaires don't have a mortgage on their homes.

    • GSC

      Furthermore, why would Katz just want to throw money at the city without getting anything in return? He is a businessman, after all, not merely a philanthropist.

      Of course he's going to use the guise of building infrastructure and doing this for the "good of the city," he would be nuts not to.

  • The city council doesn't care for the public no more then Mr. Katz does. We are just numbers and $'s.

    You ask me to present numbers on how this would help the city and the people. I ask you to tell me how it wouldn't. Taxpayers have been robbed for worse causes.

    Just like a few journalist complaining because Katz won't speak to them. Who is to say that the people against this anti-arena movement are just a a few who are mad because they aren't going to be eating of it.

    Does anyone here know how many personal relations Mayor Mandel has with the business owners he gave all the construction contracts to?

    They raises the funding in the 23rd ave overpass numerous amounts of times, and no one halted it or complained, maybe other then the few media broadcasts. Media only did it for news sakes, not like they really cared or had any intrest in it.

    I just can't see how this is a bad idea for the city and/or the Oilers. We're still going to be paying taxes and having them raises for other purposes, so why not have it be towards a really good one.

    • Deke Rivers

      23 Avenue is a public infrastructure project, it does not create revenue for one single business owner, and rather it supports businesses and citizens. It is also funded by all levels of government. What about the Edmonton Clinic projects with initial budgets of $1 Billion, Anthony Henday Drive, or the Epcor Tower ( a previously public business spending hundreds of millions), the list of large scale public construction projects is long.

      23 Avenue was publicly tendered; the Mayor had nothing to do with this so the bogus comments about contract fixing really diminish your understanding of the issue.

      23 Avenue and other infrastructure projects is a BAD example and Katz's continued reference to public infrastructure is never a good idea. Infrastructure moves people, moves trains, supports business and taxes and is a transparent necessity and yes, it's expensive. When you don't support infrastructure the long term costs are enormous but so are the long term advantages, can this be said for the public funding support of a hockey team?

      For the public to fund an investment that would on the surface benefit one individual is never a good idea. If Katz wants this he's going to have to be a lot more forthcoming or open to a more transparent funding model. I agree 100% that the arena project is good for Edmonton, but let’s face it we have a poor track record with understanding the complexity of large construction projects and the benefits they present to the City. We are more hung up on the cost and the not benefits. A properly funded district can kick start development. Katz’s model takes some risk out of the equation making it attractive to the development necessary to kick start things. He’s on the right track, he’s just communicating it poorly.

  • How wouldn't the city or the people not benefit from a multi-million complex in downtown? Think about the jobs and the revenue. Business get taxed too and so would the new ones that get put up there. The city would get some money back, the citizens not so much, but we never do.

    Most people just complain for the sake of it. Those who don't, do something about it. All I seen/heard from citizens of the nation and the city abroad is just that, complaining.

    If city of Edmonton has a million people and they need 300 million. Thats about 300 a person, less then 30 dollars a month. Over a few years that is not that much. You can not use cities like Toronto and Vancouver as examples, they're are world cities with way larger population.

  • The biggest issue at hand is that Darryl, as smart as he is, is looking at the arena district project as a political challenge.

    Its not. Its a marketing challenge. If he told the right story in the right way, wrapped around a fully flushed-out product everybody could get their heads around, the politics would be a non-issue.

    Right now he's gone public and launched a website that's still in beta-mode with tons of filling out still to do. The only way to beat down the haters is to overcome them with the knowledge and a story that makes everybody a winner.

  • So far I think this is genius on the part of Katz. He says he wants to throw money to the Arena project but only with government support. He then switches his proposal to say he will pitch his 100 million to the surrounding infrastructure but not specificly the Arena, but the City will own the arena.

    Do you think he DOESNT know the city will balk at this proposal? Of course he knows. The city will come out, as they did, and say "Woah, that 100 mill should go towards the Arena."

    Next the Oilers' savvy owner will pull another switch and say begrudgingly, "fine, I will not put my money to the other lucrative investments that are the surrounding infrastructure. I will put my 100 mill into the Arena, but if i do so then the Katz group will be the owner of the Arena."

    Bam, the city thinks it gets what it wants, but in reality Katz buys an Arena for only a 1/5 the actual cost while the city absorbs the rest.

    *Note the writer of this post refuses to research this topic enough to support anything he has actually written.*