On this day 21 years ago, a group of 38 local investors banded together to purchase the Edmonton Oilers and stop them from potentially moving to Houston. Happy Anniversary to the EIG! If not for you stepping up, the Oilers very likely wouldn’t exist right now.
Today 1998, @atbfinancial & Edmonton Investor Group agree to deal @EdmontonOilers for $USD76.0M/$CDN106.0M (in pic) M.Balsa, G.Gregg, A.Mihalcheon, D.Paine, R.Hodgson, T.Melton, E.Elko, E.Bean, S.Sochatsky C.Nichols, J.Hole, B.Saville, J.Woods, B.Butler, https://t.co/PnIIf0T6SZ pic.twitter.com/afqX99nVkT— Patrick La Forge (@LLB_2patrick) March 11, 2019
EIG also included.. D Addie, N Allen, J Ambrosius, T Barrett, G Buchanan, M Dalton, Edmonton Journal, D Hamilton, B Hryniuk, G Knoll, W Kuchar, L Makelki, T Mcfarlane, H Roozen, B Weaver, J Zanello— Patrick La Forge (@LLB_2patrick) March 11, 2019
In the mid-1990s, Peter Pocklington’s ownership of the Oilers was very clearly coming to an end. Alberta Treasury Branches demanded millions of dollars in repayments from loans Pocklington had taken out and the small-market Oilers struggled to keep up with larger markets due to an Albertan economy hindered by oil price crashes.
Pocklington, in dire financial straits, endeavoured to sell the team to an outside bidder, which would have resulted in the Oilers relocating like their WHA cousins from Winnipeg, Quebec, and Hartford had in previous years. Fortunately for Edmonton, his lease deal with Northlands Coliseum stipulated that he couldn’t move the team or sell it to somebody who had the intention of moving the team.
Leslie Alexander, the Houston-based owner of the Rockets of the NBA, offered to buy the Oilers for $85 million. But another stipulation in the Coliseum lease was that there would be a six-week grace period in which an owner with the intention of keeping the team in Edmonton would be allowed to step up and purchase the team before selling it to the outside bidder.
Cal Nichols, a local businessman, had begun rounding up other local investors to save the team. Nichols eventually rounded up a group of 38 investors to purchase the Oilers, thus protecting the franchise from moving to Houston under Alexander’s ownership. While the NHL generally frowned upon large ownership groups, the league had already lost two other Canadian franchises in recent years and didn’t want to put their lucrative Canadian television deal in jeopardy.
Under the ownership of the Investors Group, the Oilers made the playoffs in five of nine seasons, including a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. The EIG is also responsible for the famous Spawn jersey, which was designed by part-owner Todd McFarlane, a Calgary-born comic book creator.
Thank you to the Edmonton Investors Group, true Oilers legends.