Analysis: Katz’s purchase of Oilers great news for fans

If this 2007-08 NHL campaign is the Edmonton Oilers’ horror-filled Season From The Black Lagoon, there’s good news on the horizon – they just scored a monster (apologies to “monster” trademark owner P. McGuire) of a new owner in Daryl Katz.

Katz, a pharmaceutical magnate, billionaire and Edmonton native, brings much to the table that ought to make Oilers fans giddy with glee. He’s already on record as saying he’ll spend to the salary cap maximum; he’s planning on putting together an advisory board comprised of community leaders and members of the former ownership group; and he’s committed to chipping in upwards of $100 million to help build a new arena.

More importantly, though, the buck (and a lot of them, for that matter) stops with him. Having a singular voice such as his in the owner’s box is arguably the most crucial step to the Oilers once again becoming perennial championship contenders.

The evidence of that is everywhere: Only after Henry and Susan Samueli purchased the Anaheim Ducks did they make the jump to become a championship team. Only when Eugene Melnyk took over the Ottawa Senators did that organization move from the borders of bankruptcy to the periphery of a Stanley Cup victory.

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Now, under Katz’s stewardship, the Oilers can shove their way into the upper tiers of the league with little to no regard for the financial constraints that have heretofore kept them on the outside looking in.

Now, they’ll be able to buy out players with less consternation and debate about the short-and-long-term damage to their budget. Now they’ll have the option of buying out the contract extensions for coach Craig MacTavish and GM Kevin Lowe, if things don’t turn around sooner than later.

None of this would’ve been possible if the 34-member investment group still owned the Oilers. Those investors should be commended for helping keep the team in town during some tough times, but they should also be praised for knowing when to step aside in the name of progress.

That’s surely what the new owner represents.

And if he can do what the Samuelis and Melnyk have done for their respective NHL franchises, Edmontonians might be nicknaming him “Heaven’s Katz” before too long.