There’s been a storm cloud looming over the Oilers organization this season. With the climb looking insurmountable and the clock ticking quickly, it appears the Oilers are going to be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in yet again. With each passing loss, poor performance, and sleepy game in front of a frustrated crowd, that storm cloud gets bigger and bigger.
Fan angst is at an all-time high. Oilers fans have been to hell and back, so let’s not pretend that frustration isn’t valid. They sat and watched the heart-and-soul of the organization, Ryan Smyth, get traded under a year after the team reached the Stanley Cup Final. They patiently watched the team finally give up on retooling with a full-on rebuild that featured some of the most miserable hockey ever seen before. They watched the team’s owner threaten to move the team to Seattle over the city balking at publicly funding his arena project. Now Oilers fans are watching the organization do the impossible. They’re squandering the generational talent of Connor McDavid.
Making the playoffs this spring was imperative. Every NHL team, save for a few who are actively rebuilding, obviously endeavours to make the playoffs, but the Oilers needed it badly. The organization needed to give its fans some reason to have faith in the direction they were heading.
At the end of the season, season tickets on a three-year term will be up for renewal. This includes the luxury boxes and lower loge level seats, which are the ones that people and companies shell out tens of thousands of dollars to acquire.
Without a shiny, exciting, new attraction, why would anybody be inclined to make this kind of investment? The novelty of the new arena has worn off, the organization has proved that McDavid’s incredible talent can’t compensate for their inadequate decision making, and there isn’t any sign from the top that things are going to change.
Kevin Lowe said years ago that the only fans the Oilers care about are the Tier 1 fans, the ones who shell out dollars on the team. Well, it looks like something’s going to have to change, because the Tier 1 fans are ready to talk with their wallets.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. What would it take for you to purchase or renew season tickets? I bring this up today because the Oilers are hosting season ticket receptions between March 18 and 22 in which Bob Nicholson will be providing updates on a variety of topics regarding the direction of the organization.
What would it take for you to make a financial investment in this organization after everything you’ve seen over the past few years? Would a high-quality General Manager or President of Hockey Operations hire to the trick? Or is the issue, to you, more systemic? Would you continue to reward the organization with cash while the Old Boys Club continues to make decisions behind the scenes?
Another thing I’m interested in hearing from commenters is the entertainment value of purchasing season tickets. Obviously, everyone buys them because they want to watch the team win and they want to be first in line for the playoffs. I imagine that when everyone made their three-year investments back prior to the 2016-17 season, you all assumed you’d be getting, at the very least, two playoff runs.
But, beyond that, how do you feel about the quality of the product the Oilers put on? The in-game entertainment, the food, the beverages, all of that. Do you feel that Rogers Place has lived up to its billing of creating a world-class centre for entertainment?
What say you, Nation? What do the Oilers have to do in order to get your financial investment?