RAW DEAL

Value

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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WHAT THE MARKET WILL BEAR

Market

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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BUYER BEWARE

BuyerBeware

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.


  • 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.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    I won’t be watching Oilers next year if Mcdavid or Eichel aren’t wearing an Oilers Jersey. Add to this, buying out Nikittin and upgrading our goalies. Same as Doug Weight era, lots of talent, zero results. No thanks. Wake me up when we regain our passion.

  • BlazingSaitls

    OPTIONS

    I see the odd game live. A buddy of my brother-in-law has a box. It’s a special treat, even if the team plays badly.

    As a non-paying fan, I certainly have options. Stop wasting time on this stupidly-run disgrace of a “professional” team and start rooting for another (hopefully Canadian) NHL team.

    If I had seasons tickets, I would do this. Contact Mr. Katz DIRECTLY. Do it by phone, letter or e.mail. Don’t let yourself be sloughed off onto Mr. Laforge or some other minion. Tell Mr. Katz what you REALLY think of the team, Eakins, MacTavish and Lowe.

    What would happen if five or ten thousand people did this?

    If you choose to do nothing, then you are letting Mr. Katz play you for a sucker, and you should stop complaining.

    • 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.

  • Soiled Trousers

    Hey oilers, you think 1 or 2 jerseys on the ice is disrespectful?? Wait til the next blowout at home!!! I wonder what kind of story hundreds of jersey raining down onto the Ice is gonna be…. We’re just waiting for the right moment… Anyday now

  • Burnward

    Fickle fans in Edmonton. Don’t you realize that nobody wants to live in Edmonton especially millionaire hockey players and that leaves the draft or overpay to keep players to stay for a period of time. You all want to fire the management when their hands are tied for the most part. It’s one draft at a time and a few more years before they have the horses needed to compete. The truth hurts Edmonton is cold and a dump its difficult encouraging hockey players that it is a mecca when the team is so bad for so long and the fans are so angry. I’m a fan but I wouldn’t live there either.

    • they want to live in Detroit instead?
      Or, they want to live in Florida…yeah, the panthers are really rolling these days.
      Maybe they want to win in San Jose where a good regular season is good enough.
      Maybe they want to sign 13 yr deals to play in Minneapolis…that’s gorgeous city, isn’t it.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • ginwarrior

    Can anyone tell me what our record is since Principe started doing his stand-up schtick. maybe he’s the cause of the suck for so many years. Everything should be looked at K-Lowe should be willing to piss on a spark plug if he thought it could help.

  • Randaman

    Great article Robin,
    I live 700 miles north of Edmonton and used to have season tickets in the eighties with three other guys. Good times…

    I wouldn’t take a free ticket to this gong show now! What a joke this organization (if you can call it that) has become.

    I haven’t even watched the last three televised games and won’t until significant changes are made.

    Sad thing is that I don’t even think they care…

    • Randaman

      I really feel sorry for Taylor Hall.

      This must be eating him up! How long until he demands a trade? I give it until the end of this season unless Conner is coming here.
      50/50?

  • 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.

  • Sofa King Bad

    Nothing changes until Lowe and MacT step down and they’re replaced, after a thorough recruitment process, by some capable hockey guys from outside the organization. That’s the only way this changes – there is no accountability in this organization from top to bottom.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’m from Calgary and I bought tickets for the game this Saturday, a decision I now regret. I pretty much live cheque to cheque and am admittedly a Teir 3 fan.

    2 tickets in the 300’s – $180
    Gas to drive up the QE2 – $100
    Hotel – $150
    Beers at the game – $40

    $470 just to able to watch one game of hockey from a team that I used to go to battle for but now just feel betrayed by. It’s ridiculous to think this could have that much of an impact on my life but it does. I love this team. But I woke up in the middle of the night and just wanted to punch sonething as hard as I could. Just seething anger. A game that is suppose to be fun should never make a person feel that way. But the Oilers have pushed me to that point.

    That is about as sad and pathetic of a statement as there ever was.
    I mean it’s a game!!!

    Thanks for nothing Oilers. You don’t deserve a fan base that loves you this much.

  • 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!

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Unfortunately , the media in Edmonton is also complicit in this monumental debacle. Boomer and Rhett on The Fan 960 Calgary (Spits) called it like it is this morning. This team needs to fire, Kevin Lowe, Craig Mactavish, Scott Howson, The entire coaching staff, all the scouts and their staff. Edmonton media all we hear is crickets.While it is nice to see the recent criticism from RB and JG it is far too light and it is time too hold the managements feet to the fire until they are fired for their gross incompetence, or resign in disgrace. The ironic part is they are disgraced already but they are blissfully unaware.

    • Aside from Stauffer, who has to tow the company line because the Oilers and CHED are in bed together, which member of the media hasn’t been rightfully hard on the Oilers? Pretty much the only thing anyone ever writes on here is about how terrible this team is. Have you read Rob Tychowski’s twitter feed? Mark Spector wakes up in the morning and literally takes a dump on the team. Hell even Matheson has been lamenting on the sad state of the team for a couple of years now. National media guys like Aaron Ward, Ray Ferraro and *spits* Damian Cox have been feasting on this teams carcass for years now.

      And on top of that can you please point to any point in time where the media has had any sway whatsoever in moves the team does or does not make? Do you honestly think that if Gregor wrote 5 “They need to fire Kevin Lowe” articles a day that it would make a lick of difference??

      It’s crazy to me that a large majority of you think that anyone on the Oilers brass is just sitting there NOT noticing the team has been the laughing stock of the league for almost a decade now. Kevin Lowe didn’t snap with his “I know a thing or two about winning” line because he was super happy with where his team is.

      Just because they’re bad at their job doesn’t mean they’re willfully ignorant.

      • Zarny

        Which members of the media has been rightfully hard on the Oilers? (names and examples please )Other than the 6 Rings press conference all we hear is crickets from local media. # of columns on a blog will make no difference. Roast them live in a press conference. They have embarrassed our team and our town long enough.

  • No Clue

    I turned in my season tickets a couple years back.

    They asked me to bring in my entire season seat package, all remaining tickets, all the Oiler bucks and all the stickers and that crap.

    When I brought it all in I figured the account representative that I had dealt with for years, might bother to ask “Why are you leaving? Is there anything we can do to retain your business?”

    Nope.

    Not even a “Thanks for supporting the team, sucker”

    I walked in, the dude behind the counter just said “Ya, leave all that stuff with me.”

    That’s it, that’s all. Some other sucker took my spot. I only watch about 1/2 the games now, I just don’t care. The Oilers beat that out of me.

  • 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.

  • Lego

    I’m not too worried. Anyday now the oilers are gonna get blown out at home and the fans are gonna lose it!!! That’ll get the proverbial ball of change rolling!!

    • Zarny

      Anyday now? How ’bout Saturday night. Chicago rolling into Rexall to flog the Oilers which the latter having played Friday night. Don’t know if it’s a national TV game, but I hope so. Could be very ugly.

  • SHARKY5150

    Robin,
    You summed it up perfectly!

    Thought I’d share a little anecdote.
    My son who is six years old (six and a half if you ask him), asked me a question that would be funny if it wasn’t so sad…..
    “Daddy, do the Oilers practice? You told me that when you practice you get better. The Oilers always lose so I don’t think they practice.”
    My reply,”Yes son, of course they practice. They practice almost every day.”
    “Are they paying attention at their practice? I don’t think they are learning at their practices. Maybe the coach should get in trouble because he can’t help them get better at practice.”

    Seems so simple!

  • Rebuilding the Rebuild

    I’ve been a season seat holder for 4 years and I can’t give away tickets for free anymore. Every game Rexall looks emptier. Support is seriously wavering. The sell-out is a bit of an illusion as the actual value of these seats is almost nothing. Sad truth.

  • BlazingSaitls

    Everything that ha$ needed to be $aid ha$ been $aid. By fan$, by media, and by other NHL team$. The only one$ not $aying what need$ to be $aid are the Oiler$ franchi$e them$elve$. All they have are platitude$.

    Until there are Ch-ch-ch-change$ I’m done watching/li$tening/cheering for the Oiler$.

    “Where’s your shame
    You’ve left us up to our necks in it-
    Time may change me-
    But you can’t trace time” –
    from David Bowie’$ $ong Change$

  • 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.

  • BlazingSaitls

    Well for those of us who can’t afford to take our kids please feel free to send them my way. I would still take the kids to a game just for the experience.