no question that things are horribly bad right now for the OilersNation. Some folks are even calling it the worst time
in franchise history – which seems insane given that 1) The Gretzky Trade 2)
SCF 2006 G7. But when you are going through a thing, having other people tell you
that thing isn’t so bad doesn’t help. It makes the thing worse. We are the joke of the league and that makes every self respecting Oilers fan irate.
delve into my little analysis of Oilers ownership and whether Daryl Katz is “Count
Chocula evil”, give that video I posted at the top a quick gander if you need a
little morale boost. It’s by this Icelandic band I got to watch a few weeks
back called FM Belfast.
trying to listen to only happy music during these dark dark days and Icelandic
people know about making the best of a bad winter every year. All isolated up
there on that island, dark all the time. Yes the Icelandic people are a quirky
bunch, but their girls are super hot and they sell these awesome little hotdogs
that come wrapped in bacon.
COME ON WANYE
Ahem. Right. Daryl Katz.
A little anecdote from yesteryear: I met
Daryl Katz once for about 45 mins, before he was “DARYL KATZ” and I was just some forgetable punk kid. He was quiet and nice, but
the people we were with outlined his vision to buy the team out of nowhere in polite conversation between strangers. At the time I remember thinking “Damn, this guys’ crew only talks about him — that’s odd”, but my
mind was blown as I watched him roll out every step of his plan exactly as his
posse said he would in the coming years.
It taught me the value of having a master plan and when Katz built that mega mansion on the banks of the North
Saskatchewan in plain view of all that pass by it stands as a testament in my
brain that you can be an Edmontonian and ball out of control without having to
pull up stakes and move to a bigger city.
I often wander around the river valley at all hours of the
day going over various problems. I have found myself staring at his
massive baller shack on many instances and thought, “Look at all those little
houses around his massive house. What a champion. All those fancy pants types
in Valleyview look like ants next to him.” Then I laugh and laugh and look for
more bottles on the ground to return.
I don’t think the Katz era is going remotely to plan on the
ice. But I also think that it is going exactly to plan off the ice with the
arena and this bodes well for the long term future of the Oilers. And I also don’t think he is nearly as bad of a dude as everyone makes
out. Is he an introvert and a weirdo? Sure. But if you are going to have the
skills and determination to make yourself one of Canada’s richest people some
other categories of personality are going to give.
He is hardly some sort of
super villain intent on ruining the Oilers and the City of Edmonton and robbing
City Council of it’s pothole fixin’ money for the next 100 years.
If I persist in saying I like Justin Bieber because he is
Canadian, then there is no way that I would ever hate the most successful
Edmontonian of all time who just happens to own the most important team in all
the world and is building me a new sweet arena to get drunk in until I am
lowered in the ground. The team is beyond terrible – no doubt – but I don’t
think Katz is so bad.
Perhaps we Edmontonians and Oilers fans around the world are
hard wired to hate the Oilers owner after what Peter Pocklington did to the
City in trading Gretzky and dismantling the team. The man should never have had any
reason to sell off that that squadron and the fact it was his other business
ventures failing that required him to sell off the Oilers one by one made all
Oilers fans around the world feel a bit dirty, I think.
Maybe we will always look at the Oilers owner with sidelong glares for what was done to us as we were robbed of the greatest team of all time piece by piece to fund a failing owner’s empire. It’s the stuff of heartbroken legend.
It’s a thankless job being the owner of the Oilers when you look at it. Especially if your team is the worst team in organized sports since 800 BC. I don’t feel sorry for him but I do recognize he gets crucified on a daily basis around these parts.
And before you say
“WANYE YOU TIT KATZ IS MAKING MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS A DAY OFF THE
OILERS AND PERSONALLY ROBS ME NIGHTLY IN MY SLEEP AND GOT A FREE ARENA AND WHAT
NOT!” Let me counter:
Billionaires are always making millions of
dollars a day. That’s how they became billionaires. We may all hate on that and
want billions of dollars for ourselves or think that only elementary school
teachers deserve that money and that is a valid but secondary debate. As $200
million dollar investments go, there are literally tons of other things Katz could
have done with his money and time that would have exceeded the return he got on
Yes he financed the team through that insurance company in Boston so he didn’t put cash in (CIS Group? I’m too lazy to look), but understand that billionaires with growing
companies have all sorts of opportunities to make buckets of cash and don’t
lead to your hometown hating the hell out of you. He still chose to buy the
Oilers and save us from “have not status” forever. It wasn’t the only nor the
easiest way he could rake in the cash.
The Oilers aren’t anywhere near the types of
revenues they could be earning if they weren’t assholes and perennial losers on
the ice. They haven’t sold out all the games in a row for 8 years or whatever
like they tell us. I don’t need to live in Soviet Russia circa 1942 to not
believe the statistics I am being told. I’ve bought tickets seconds before puck drop to test my theory and they are always still tickets available.
We need to stop patting ourselves on
the back about this fictitious sell out streak — there is undoubtedly an impact
on the bottom line of the Oilers by now because of the hot garbage they have
been forcing us to watch. And good. If the Alberta economy wasn’t booming they
would be feeling the pinch way more from running this team all squirrely. But
hopefully that economic crash doesn’t hit anytime soon.
Maybe it’s because I read everything on the internet about
the Oilers every day, and twitter and myspace and Tinder and on and on. Also I
wrote the filters that keep the really bad comments off of the Nation and I
will go and read them. The hate that some folk shower on Katz is INSANE –
racist stuff, threats, stuff about his family. Comments that go far beyond
anything sports related. I often read them and think “good God I wouldn’t want
anyone saying that stuff about me.”
You gotta have a thick skin to be the boss I
ROLL CALL: OILERS OWNERS
How does Katz stack up against the Oilers owners throughout
the years? Let’s take a quick peek.
Bill Hunter: Granted WHA franchise and traded that to the NHL for the Edmonton Oilers. Built
Rexall Place. Once offered a guy a shopping cart of cash as a signing bonus
(it’s true I read his biography.) Put Edmonton on the North American Sporting
Map. Lived a life so colourful he was known as “Wild Bill.”
Hero status: Strong
built best team in NHL history in record time, dismantled best team ever in
record time. Sold Gretzky for trillions of dollars cash, traded cash for god
knows what. Threatened to move the team time and time again. Ultimately lost
the team to ATB where I think he had pledged the team as collateral on debts and defaulted or something.
Hero status: Mild
Group: bought team from ATB keeping the squad from moving to East St.
Louis, Albuquerque or worse. Made do with limited resources in an era where the
New York Rangers would routinely offer 4th line wingers 30000% of
what the Oilers were currently paying. Saved the team from leaving Edmonton.
Hero status: Extreme
Daryl Katz: Most
successful Edmontonian of all time. Concocted master plan by where he became
mega rich, then the title sponsor of the arena, then owner of the team buying
the franchise from the EIG for $12 billion dollars. With the stroke of a
platinum pen ended all talk of the Oilers being a “have not” team unable to
spend to the floor of the cap. Gave the
team an unlimited amount of cash to spend and sat back waiting for his heroes
from the 80s to convert that into a playoff berth. Is still waiting.
Continues running a billion dollar pharmeceutical company
and an almost equally big real estate company which is going to increase
downtown’s footprint by 7000% with a new arena and district of gleaming
buildings, replacing current gravel parking lots, dust and the Baccarat casino
(which still owes me $40 from a suspect shoe in Black Jack from 2005.)
I am not here to be a Daryl Katz apologist. I think that when he mapped out his master plan for owning the Oilers it involved sitting around with his buddies – who have been assuring him they know a thing or to about winning for their entire lives – and celebrating Oilers wins by the bushel. He gave them carte blanche to get the job done and they have failed him miserably.
Like any sports team the Oilers have been plagued by problems year after year. In 2014, we have entirely new problems but they are all based on the product on the ice – arguably the most important part of the business. But we shouldn’t ignore the long term stability we now take for granted:
- Financial stability of ownership (check)
- Single decision maker for better or worse (check)
- No more “small market/we are poor cousins of the NYR” talk (check)
- New arena ensuring team won’t leave anytime soon and will
torture us forever (check)
There are no more systemic business problems surrounding the
Oilers. As shaky as they are on the ice they are equally stable as a business. A business that has a great many employees needing firing in my opinion and need a massive retooling on the ice.
But nothing is going to force them to move or prevent it economically from competing and that is a big step in the right direction.
The product on the ice is god awful garbage but that can ostensibly be fixed
with personnel change. Kevin Lowe may know a thing or two about winning but
Daryl Katz has been more successful at his trade than any of the Boys on the
Bus (except Gretzky) put together.
interested to see what happens and how he fixes this team. Or maybe he won’t. Who the hell knows at this point? He isn’t the best owner in Oilers history, but he is also far from the worst.
Next up tomorrow: Why won’t Katz just replace everyone? The domain knowledge gap.
From yesterday: Rome Burns: Part I.