Dear EIG, Thank you. But it’s time to say goodbye.
As an Oilers fan and Edmonton resident, I am very thankful for what the Edmonton Investors Group (EIG) did to save the Oilers from a near certain relocation. I just don’t think I could bring myself to cheer for an NHL team called the Houston Oilers. That is kind of ironic since one of my favorite NFL teams is Tennessee, the new home of the former Houston Oilers; but unlike those Oilers, these ones needed to stay put.
And thanks to the EIG, that is just what happened. The Oilers stayed in Edmonton, and are still here today thanks to every single one of the 37 members of the ownership group. They did their very best to uphold the tradition of one of the most prestigious and successful franchises of the modern era, and they succeeded. The Oilers haven’t been a powerhouse like they were in the 80’s, but they have been a fairly consistent team, usually making the playoffs, and of course the 06 run to the finals. With what they had to work with in terms of the small market Canadian city, they did a heck of a job.
However, it is a different NHL now, we are into the salary cap world, the world where salaries are rising every year and will continue to do so. Spending the league minimum just won’t cut it because the high end players are asking for more and more money. So for a team to succeed, they need an owner (or owners) who are willing to pony up the dough to acquire and retain the big name players. 37 guys can’t do that. How can 37 guys agree on how much money to spend? Some will want to spend to the cap, other will want to cut back. Some will do whatever it takes (and whatever it costs) to build a successful club, and others are just happy not losing money at the end of the day. 37 owners just isn’t a viable thing to have in the current NHL.
Teams need solid, well financed owners, who are willing to do what it takes to win. The NHL needs owners who spend what it takes to win, and are not in it for the prestige or the money. It is winning that drives a team, and the owner should be on board with that.
Enter Daryl Katz.
He is a local Edmonton Billionaire, who happens to own the current sponsor of Rexall Place. He was born in Edmonton, raised in Edmonton, and grew up watching the Oilers…in Edmonton. He wants to bring the team back to the glory days of the 1980’s. He wants to spend right to the salary cap every year in order to ice the best team he possibly can. Oh, and on top of that he wants to contribute a ton of money to a new downtown arena for the Oilers, and a world-class training facility at the University of Alberta (which is in Edmonton for anyone who was unsure). This guy has boatloads of money, and he wants to use it on his hometown team, to see them not just remain indefinitely in Edmonton, but thrive there.
So to all the members of the EIG, once again thank you. But please, do what is right for the team. Sell to Mr. Katz. The time has come to move on.