It’s been all talk and little or no action, at least at the NHL level, while we wait for Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr to sort things out, but the consolation is some of the gab we’ve been getting over the past few days has a hopeful and common sense ring to it.
I’m speaking, of course, about the mea culpa offered up by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz over the weekend and of word today from Taylor Hall that he isn’t about to rush his recovery from shoulder surgery to get back on the ice in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons.
Let’s start with Katz, who has had just about everybody in Edmonton, and rightfully so, take a run at him after that ill-advised appearance he made in Seattle with Kevin Lowe, Patrick LaForge and Wayne Gretzky in an effort (blunter than a ball-peen hammer) to turn up the heat on city council over stalled downtown arena negotiations.
With the backlash over that PR blunder building, Katz quickly realized he’d over-stepped in trying to gain some leverage and took out full-page ads in The Journal and The Sun explaining and apologizing for the move. He followed that up with an interview with Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now on 630 CHED.
Lowetide here at Oilersnation and several others have already given their takes on the clarification/apology by Katz and from where I sit, I’m not seeing it markedly differently than most commentators I’ve read.
I won’t go the "talk is cheap" route because that’s a touch on the harsh side, although I do understand the sentiment, given how poorly the Katz Group, in general, has communicated (they haven’t) with fans. I’m also not of the mind to proclaim that "all is forgiven" because that just doesn’t hold up when there’s still a $450-$500 million deal to get done.
What Katz and Bob Black and the rest of the Rexall posse must do now is do everything it can to make some meaningful headway at the table with mayor Stephen Mandel and council. Katz has to put the sentiment he expressed in his apology – "The simple fact is that the Oilers need Edmonton, and Edmonton needs the Oilers. Each is an integral part of the fabric and identity of the other" – into action fans can see with their own eyes.
Whether you’re a cynic who figures this is a calculated stroke by Katz after realizing he offended most his own fan base with the Seattle stunt or you believe his apology to be heartfelt, the proof will be in the pudding – let’s see the kind of deal Katz negotiates, and how he goes about it, from here on in.
I haven’t taken the pulse of the fan base on this, aside from reading along here at the website and tuning into the Jason Gregor Show and Oilers Now, but I’m certainly willing to at least take a wait-and-see approach with Katz.
NO HURRY FOR HALL
Sportsnet’s Gene Principe tweeted today that Hall has declared his shoulder isn’t yet fully recovered from the surgery he had to repair it and that he won’t be rushing back any time soon just to join pals Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle with the AHL Barons in OKC.
The no-rush edict from Hall should be a no-brainer and non-news, but, given the Oilers spotty record when it comes to the players returning from injury or surgery – hello, Sheldon Souray – his declaration should put some minds at ease.
If ever there was a time to be cautious with the rehab of a player, it’s with a blue-chipper like Hall, who has had problems with the shoulder for years, not just months. When something has been a chronic malady, and you’re talking about a cornerstone player like No. 4, there is NO rush whatsoever to get back, especially when we’re talking about a minor league stint.
Hall can take his time knowing the Oilers run at the, ahem, playoffs won’t start until November or December. Rest. Heal. Repeat.
AND . . .
I want to say thank-you to everybody who has called, written here or e-mailed wishing me good luck on my latest venture — my new automotive glass shop, Crackmasters Southwest (I won’t try to squeeze in a free plug here because I’m paying a pretty penny for them on Gregor’s show*).
Today was our first day, and after more than 25 years playing reporter and hockey writer in the media game and several hectic months getting ready for this new biz, today felt terrific. We did a little business and scrambled a lot with stuff we haven’t figured out yet, but the well-wishes were the highlight.
*Of course I’m sneaking in a free plug. I’ve got a six-year-old son, a family to feed and we’ll all end up living in a Maytag carton if this doesn’t fly. October specials include BIG discounts** for Oilersnation members.
**Unless your fake name is Wanye.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.