Canadian billionaire Daryl Katz may have made some money since he acquired the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers in 2008 – it more than doubled in value – but the team itself has not fared so well having a losing record overall. Now Oilers fans and hockey observers alike are calling on him to sell the team.
Since Katz bought the Oilers it has had a 177-252-28-33 for a 0.435 winning percentage. The team has had seven head coaches in seven years: Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins, Craig MacTavish (again) and Todd Nelson.
This is devastating for a storied franchise which won 5 Stanley Cups in the era of Wayne Gretsky and Mark Messier back in the 1980s.
Sports fans in any city are never easy to please. A team can win five straight championships, but if that is followed by a losing season then they all call for the managers’ or coach’s head. The anger is increased exponentially with every losing year.
But no one really expects him to sell since he just dumped $440 million (53% of the cost came from Katz’s company) on a new arena – The Rogers Center – for both the team and the city of Edmonton. That was twice what he paid for the Oilers.
That didn’t stop Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun for talking about firing the Oilier’s owner. “You can’t fire an owner, ” he wrote. “But at some point here, this owner has to become embarrassed enough to do more than to buy a couple pages of advertising space in the papers to write another letter to the fans.”
In a sarcastic open letter to Mr. Katz on The Hockey Writers Shane Sander wrote “Accountability has been a word thrown around quite often by the fans, media, players and management but ultimately the one person who is most accountable for the organizations downfall is you Mr. Katz.”
The writer called on Mr. Katz to look outside his inner circle for help in running the team saying that it has been mismanaged with poor free agent signing all of which have left its players dispirited and begging to be traded.