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38 Days Until The Season Begins

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Zach Laing
7 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane.
Today, we look at the Edmonton Investors Group — 38 people who came together to purchase the Oilers in 1998.

A March 14, 1998 edition of the Edmonton Journal details the Edmonton Investors Group’s purchase of the Oilers.

PLAYER COUNTDOWN PRESENTED BY BETWAY


In the mid-1990s, the Edmonton Oilers were a franchise in financial turmoil and Peter Pocklington’s time owning the franchise was coming to a visible end. Millions of dollars in loan repayments were being demanded by the Alberta Treasury Branches and Pocklington was struggling to make ends meet.
A for sale sign went up on the Oilers, and an offer from Leslie Alexander, the Houston-based owner of the NBA’s Rockets, could’ve seen the organization sold for $82.5-million US. That, however, would’ve landed the Oilers in a similar spot to the Winnipeg Jets, who had recently relocated to Arizona. Part of keeping it from happening in 1997 was a clause in his lease deal with Northlands Coliseum that stipulated Pocklington couldn’t move the team himself, or sell the team to someone who planned on moving the franchise.
Thus, Cal Nichols, a local businessman, rounded up a group of 38 investors to purchase the Oilers and keep them in Edmonton. Large investor groups like this were generally not looked kindly upon by the NHL, but the league had already seen Canadian franchises in Winnipeg and Quebec leave the country, and they didn’t want it to happen again.
Here, according to a March 14, 1998 edition of the Edmonton Journal, details the timeline of the Oilers’ sale:
1994: Edmonton negotiaties deal with Oilers owner Peter Pocklington to keep the team in Edmonton.
June 1997: Pocklington puts team up for sale.
September 1997: Two local bids for Oilers surface but few details made public.
November 4, 1997: Leslie Alexander, owner of the NBA Houston Rockets, retreats from making a bid for Oilers after finding out about deal prohibiting the team from leaving Edmonton until 2004.
Feb. 10, 1998: Alberta Treasury Branches receives formal bid of $82.5 milion US cash for the Oilers from Alexander. Local investors get 30 days to come up with $70 million US for the team or bank can sell to Alexander.
March 13,1998: Local group makes offer to buy Oilers.
And here, according to a May 6, 1998 edition of the same paper, is the list of investors:
Ed Bean, of Crystal Glass
Gordon Buchanan, Buchanan Lumber
The Edmonton Journal
Ernie Elko, Peter Kiweit Sons
Gary Gregg, Gregg Distributors
Ron Hodgson, Ron Hodgson Pontiac Buick
Jim Hole, Frobisher Developments
Larry Makelki, former co-owner of BMW Monarch
Lloydministrer Anonymous Consortium of Five
Dave Addie
Mike Dalton
Tim Melton, Melcor, and Bill Butler, Springwood
Art Mihalcheon, Steel-Craft Door Products
Cal Nichols, Gasland
Al Owen, Weldco-Beales
Cathy Roozen, Cathon Holdings
Bruce Saville, Saville Systems
Barry Weaver, Skyreach Equipment
Jim Woods/Dick Paine
Don Hamilton, Air Spray (1967) LTD
Neal Allen, Ampscott Equipment
Jakob Ambrosius, West Tool and Machining
Manuel Balsa
Simon Sochatsky, Northern Industrial Carriers
Todd McFarlane, Image Comics
Wally Kuchar, Tri-Service Oilfield Manufacturing
Jim Zanello
Ted Barrett
Dick Colf

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