David Chilton, he of Wealthy Barber and Dragon’s Den fame, knows a bad deal when he sees one. Buying tickets to watch the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place, where Daryl Katz’s team has won just 60 of 157 games since the start of the 2010-11 season, unquestionably qualifies as that.

The latest episode of the Oilers providing their customers with defeat and frustration to be washed down with over-priced beer unfolded Wednesday in a 5-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, a result that dropped the Oilers to 4-6-1 on home ice and 6-11-2 overall this season. That prompted Chilton to chime in via Twitter: 

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Oiler fans deserve better. You’ve sold out Rexall Place for seasons on end. Year in and year out, with no charity receipt forthcoming, you’ve bought the tickets. You buy the beer. You buy the jerseys and food and pay for parking. With the Oilers well on the way to missing the playoffs for the ninth straight season, fans have been loyal to a fault. That’s part of the problem. 

Like it or not, Tychkowski has a point – one that’s been made several times by many people in recent years. In what other vendor-customer relationship could a business supply a product so substandard it’s laughable, offer empty promises to make it right, fail to deliver on those promises for nine years and still have people lining up at the door like they do to watch NHL hockey in Edmonton?

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Let me be clear where I’m coming from right from the top here. This isn’t about calling fans suckers or mocking people who’ve supported the Oilers season after season, continuing to line Katz’s pockets while a once proud franchise languishes as a laughing stock. Like I said, you deserve better.

You support the Oilers because they are part of the fabric of this winter city. In the glory years, Peter Pocklington and the Oilers delivered five Stanley Cups with, I’d argue, the greatest hockey team ever assembled. The Oilers put Edmonton on the international sporting map.

Those who remember the parades long for those days again. Those too young, who maybe got a taste of the good times with the unexpected run to the 2006 Stanley Cup final, want their turn. The emotional connection is undeniable and understandable. So the Oilers sell hope, and you buy.

After all, buying tickets to Oiler games isn’t like buying a car. I get that. If a dealer sold you a lemon, promised to make it right and didn’t for nine weeks or nine months, let alone nine years, you’d flip that dealer off, tell everybody you know how badly you were treated, how much their product sucks and shop elsewhere.

You can’t tell the Oilers to get stuffed and buy NHL hockey down the block from a competitor. You want it, the Oilers have it. They’re the only NHL game in town. If you do walk away, chances are somebody else will take your place in the ticket line-up. There’s a waiting list of people willing to buy hope. There’s the rub.

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I’m not going to presume to say you should boycott the Oilers, turn in your season tickets and refuse to support the team until there’s a real change in the on-ice results. I haven’t paid to get into the building for 25 years. There is no emotional connection for me. That’s too easy for me to say.

Boycotting the Oilers, refusing to support the team with your dollars, should be an absolute last resort, not the first option. Some people have gone that route as there have been an increasing number of empty (but paid for) seats at Rexall Place in recent seasons even as a new rink rises from the ground in downtown Edmonton. They’re done buying hope and empty promises.

Not one player remains from the 2006 Stanley Cup final team. Coaches have come and gone, with Craig MacTavish leaving and now acting as GM. The front office has been revamped. Kevin Lowe, GM from 2000 to 2008, was bumped from the day-to-day spotlight by Katz and made president of hockey operations. Lowe was replaced by Steve Tambellini, who was fired and replaced by MacTavish. The results remain the same.

Going on nine years after the 2006 Cup and five years into the “official” rebuild, Katz and the hockey people he employs continue to pick the pockets of the faithful. They sell empty promises and hope without providing any actual results or tangible improvement to loyal fans who support the team emotionally and financially.

It’s a raw deal. Shameful. You either buy it or you don’t.

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Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • Igor Ulanov 55

    It’s not reasonable to ask people not to attend games, it’s what we do.

    But others have suggested boycotting the opening faceoff, or first shift, I think that’s a fantastic idea.

  • Sofa King Bad

    Since Daryl Katz has built his fortune selling drugs that are mostly ineffective at improving people’s health, perhaps it is only a logical progression to make a fortune off a hockey team that is mostly ineffective at playing hockey.

    Thanks Daryl!

  • Serious Gord

    Some season ticket holders make out very well actually.

    A good friend of mine has a brace of club tickets about ten rows up from the blue line. He goes to twenty or so games and sells the remainder usually to fans of visiting teams – leafs Habs and canucks games are particularly lucrative. He usually profits enough on their sale to pay for his tickets plus parking and food and Bev.

    He is not alone

    The NHL franchise monopoly for the EDM market is held by katz. And like so many monopolies in underserved markets he makes out like a bandit regardless of the quality of the product delivered compared to that provided by other franchises in other markets.

  • Phuryous George

    Everyone going to a televised game should bring a paper bag in with them, and put it on after the first whistle. Think of the message that would send, on national TV, Oiler fans demonstrate their loyalty to the team that they love, and their embarrassment for it at the same time. IT would be better than the empty seats, since most of them are paid for anyway. A full house of paper bag heads.

    Someone give this idea a hashtag. and also, dont use a plastic bag, the results could be disastrous, even if as an oiler fan, you long for the release.

  • Randaman

    I personally think that anyone who pays for an Oilers ticket is crazy! I’ll let this team continue to disappoint me from the comfort of my couch, with my hard earned money still in my pocket. I’m done buying with this laughing stock of an organization is selling.

  • Chongler

    This organization is a disgrace to the fans, a laughing stock to the rest of the league and disappointing to its core. No one has taken any ownership for what has happened here. We the fans pay the price…financially and emotionally. At the very least we know who to blame, there have been fewer and fewer lynch mobs calling for players heads. This mess is pinned 100% on the Management, from the owner down to the coaches. F-you for making me care less about hockey!!!!!!

  • bazmagoo

    As long as people keep paying to go to the games & buying merchandise nothing will change. It’s a loser organization at this stage, the laughing stock of the league, run by two delusional ex-players and owned by a jerk who is in the process of coercing money from local taxpayers to secure a real estate transaction.

    Yes, Edmontonians deserves better, of course. But if people still keep going to games & buying merchandise do they deserve better? At this stage, I’d have to say no. Vote with your dollars Oilersnation!

    • Soiled Trousers

      I agree. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me nine times(and counting) shame on me.

      People need to learn the difference between the sport of hockey and the business of the NHL.

      Blind faith supporters of the Oilers deserve what they get at this point.

    • Zarny

      Umm no.

      Their possession numbers are better than last year; that doesn’t mean they are “good”. The Oilers are currently 14th in the league for Corsi so you could say their possession numbers are OK or average.

      As for “how could this be”?

      It doesn’t matter what your possession numbers when your SV % is last in the league, your ranked 25th for shooting % resulting in your PDO also being last in the league.

  • vetinari

    We used to always go to Edmonton (from Saskatchewan) to see the Oilers every February but we haven’t in the last five or six years because by that time, although tickets were usually available online (and sometimes cheap), the team would be hopelessly out of the playoffs and it was no fun to sit through yet another loss or blow out on my mini-vacation. Instead, we now head off for a family trip to Banff each year and somehow, it seems to be money better spent.

    Tier 1 fans– go, not go, I don’t care. It’s your money but ask yourself if what you are seeing is worth the price of admission.

    • ginwarrior

      I was 16 in 06. I am now 25.. and my fun exciting party days are diminishing quick. and I would just like to say a big F U to the Edmonton Oilers, not once in that entire time frame of my youth did I get to experience even an exciting push to the playoffs or a playoff atmosphere to celebrate and enjoy. I was a bit to young when you made the cup finals in 06 and I saw how great and fun that looked. However you have let me down in a huge way in this regard and not once during the prime of my life have you given me anything even close to a team worth chearing for.

      See ya never, what a joke.

      Great article.

  • BlazingSaitls

    I remember the Harold Ballard days with the Maple Leafs. A consistently bad team that sold out every game. It was a tough time to be a Leafs fan.

    But Ballard was smart (cheap but smart). He didn’t spend an extra nickel on the team because he knew his return was going to be exactly the same.

    What about Katz. I have to commend him that he doesn’t seem afraid to spend money( at least on the team if not the arena). His problem (and ours) is he doesn’t have the hockey people in positions of authority to deliver what his money promises and he doesn’t make any changes.

    Mr Katz, please clean house and hire someone with a real track record of delivering a winning hockey franchise.

  • Chongler

    The only people that should pay for tickets are the ones that yell out fire lowe chants and toss Jerseys on the ice or have paper begs over there heads, everyone else is just a part of the problem.

  • Prongers Promises

    Raw Deal? You mean like ordering a Jr. Chicken but getting a filet of fish instead?

    That is what its like being an oilers fan. So full of promise and within the first bite its over.

    • Rob...

      No, more like seeing that luscious Big Mac on the Menu and ordering one, only to find out it’s about half the size that the picture shows and the patty that’s spilling out of all sides on the image is actually the size of a toonie and tastes like cardboard. Of course the next time you’re at the ‘restaurant’ you look up and see that luscious Big Mac on the Menu and order one…. rinse & repeat. THAT is being an Oilers fan.

  • Soiled Trousers

    I grew up in a small northern Albertan town, hockey was my life and the Oiler were my team. We only had 3 channels growing up so I used to listen to most games on CHED but we were so far north that it would have to be a really clear evening for the signal to come in decent. Most nights I would crank that scratchy radio signal and shoot endless shots of a foam ball into a net while pretending I was Gretz or Mess. I would look forward to Hockey in Canada all week, on Saturdays the foam ball would never come out as I was stuck at the edge of my seat 15ft from the TV watching in suspense. If the Oilers happened to be playing on TV it was extra special but generally it didn’t matter who was playing, I just loved watching, I was the biggest hockey fan.

    The first few years of the Oilers rebuild I was ridding the hope train thinking and discussing with other Oilers fans that we should all continue to watch, attend, and support the rebuild because once we start winning it will taste that much better knowing we stuck by them through the tough years. Even though the Oilers were out of the race well before Xmas I still watched nearly every game and attended as many as I could. I was also still a devoted fan joining hockey pools, watching other (good) teams duke it out, jockey for playoff positioning, and still got really excited for the playoffs especially the first round.

    The next few years of the rebuild it started getting more and more difficult to watch the Oilers despite my original beliefs. A plethora of questionable decisions, numerous let downs, and seven consecutive Oiler losses watched live and I could barely bring myself to watching the Oilers. At this point though I was still a hockey fan and would look forward to watching other teams, especially those would rose from the ashes to become competitive like Chicago or even St. Louis because it gave me hope, hope that the Oilers could do the same.

    By the end of the regular season last year and especially the start of this year I had lost not only what love I had left for the Oilers but my love for hockey itself. The Oilers gutted me of almost all of excitement, passion, and enthusiasm I had for the game. Hearing about MacT signing Niki “healthy scratch in Columbus” Nikitin to that ridiculous contract then letting both Leddy and Boychuk go the Islanders was absolutely gut wrenching, it still makes me want to puke. I never thought it would come to this or that I would be writing about it but the Oilers have stripped me of my hockey fandom all together. I don’t even care who’s in first, who’s leading the league in scoring, or who’s playing on TV. It bores me and it’s depressing but it’s tough to cheer for a sport when you have no allegiance, no loyalty……no team!!!

    As my wife says “thanks Oilers, couldn’t have done it without you”…….

  • In 2003 I was 24 years old making $32,000 a year. I decided to get 2 season tickets even though I really couldn’t afford them. I did it because I thought the team needed me. In those days the oil were part of the revenue sharing program the nhl had and they needed a minimum of 13,000 season tickets sold to get the cash. I was happy to do my part.
    In 2010 after the first 30th place finish, when renewal time came I remember thinking that the team had a long waiting list for tickets, they didn’t need me anymore plus I wasn’t going to as many games as I used to and I just simply enjoyed watching at home more than I did going to the games. I remember pulling up the 50 man roster at he time and thinking to myself that there was no way this franchise was gonna make he playoffs for 5 years. My friends thought I was nuts. Two years they said until the team was competitive. I gave up my tickets and have never looked back.
    Now I still watch every minute of every game. In fact I have watched every single minute of oilers hockey since I got a pvr in 2008. Even before that I rarely missed games. Every blowout and every embarrassing loss and I still watch. I love the team and the game and quite frankly there’s nothing else I would rather watch on tv. So the team still gets some of money from my cable package.
    I would never tell paying fans not to go to a game that they have paid for I just vote with my wallet and I choose to spend my money elsewhere but at the end of the day I still watch with realistic expectations. I’ve never once thought since 2010 that they had a realistic chance at playoffs. Not with all these holes on the roster. While everyone was optimistic in September I knew that with 2 centres and 2 backups and arguably the worst defence in the west that there was no playoffs again. In fact I will be surprised if we finish higher than 25th.
    Anyway, I’ve minimized the amount of money I spend on the oilers but I still watch every minute because I want too. I just refuse to pay for tickets until they make the playoffs.

  • Lego

    People should ask themselves if they are a “Oilers fan” or a “hockey fan”.

    Good news if you are a hockey fan because there is plenty of great hockey to attend live in the Edmonton area. We have the CHL Champion Oil Kings and the AJHL Champion Spruce Grove Saints. Both teams play highly entertaining hockey and since they win more often than they lose you leave the rink feeling great. And for the price of a single Oiler gold seat you can get season tickets. Check it out.

    Return to watching the Oilers when they make management changes necessary and turn this thing around (maybe never). Until then you don’t have to stop going to hockey games.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Lots of ways to try and reason this. Lots of variables at play here. But there’s only one common denominator: THE OLD BOYS CLUB AND CONSTANT RESHUFFLING OF THE SAME OLD CHAIRS. And that’s a fact.

  • Serious Gord

    If I don’t like a movie, I get up and leave. I left a few Oilers and Eskimo games for the same reason. Unfortunately as long as corporations get to write off their tickets Rexall will be sold out.

  • oilerjed

    I was thinking that last nights broadcast while harsh was also hopefully very insightful for many. It seemed like Hughson and Craig had nothing better to do then tell us how much the Oilers suck. They were right mind you but it seemed pretty poor broadcasting.
    While on the other hand those who should be using their voice and speaking out are doing nothing.

    “Oilers: 6 wins in 19 games, in 28th place, 0-9-1 against the West. Nine years out of the playoffs. See you at Friday’s Sellout!
    — Rob Tychkowski (@Sun_Tychkowski) November 20, 2014 ”

    This in twitter but where is the scathing article in the front page of the sports section!?

    And even this article from Brownlee, while calling a spade a spade never really gets down to the point. Other then to say how sad it is to be an Oilers fan. Tell us something we dont know! How about a high profile journalist calling out Katz and Lowe in the boldest headline they can talk their editor into and get it picked up by every outlet that will run with it??

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^but surely people realize by now that any unsold Oiler tix are probably bought up by the team so that they can continue to claim that they have a sellout. i suspect this anyways. maybe a hundred or tow for some games?

      • oilerjed

        If the press would get on board and start shaming these guys daily they would be forced to act wouldnt you think? regardless of whether or not there is a sold out building. The damage to the Oilers brand is becoming unreversable to many. If I had moved to Etown now instead of in the 90’s I would still be a Bruins fan. They didnt have alot of success but they were a ton of fun to get drunk watching. Now just a good reason to drink…