For the better part of a decade, the Edmonton Investors Group carried out some very noble work. It saved NHL hockey in one of the league’s most fertile markets and in the face of countless obstacles, weathered financial storm after financial storm.
Now the group led by Cal Nichols will be rewarded if it accepts billionaire Daryl Katz’s offer of between $188 million and $190 million for the Edmonton Oilers. And that’s as it should be. EIG carried the Oilers and the city of Edmonton through some incredibly bleak times and there is certainly no shame in handing the portfolio over to Katz at this point.
(As an aside, the more I see the workings of this league, the more I’m convinced owners of NHL teams are not the least bit concerned about the money they lose on a cash-in, cash-out basis as long as they can recoup their losses when they cash out by selling.)
In fact, this is probably the best thing that could happen to the Oilers. More than ever, NHL teams need a single, committed, deep-pocketed billionaire owner and that’s what the Oilers potentially have in Katz. Bolstered by cost certainty and a robust Canadian dollar, the Oilers are riding the good times right now, but who knows how long it will last?
And it appears Katz is one of the few people in Edmonton who has the financial wherewithal to get the ball rolling on a much-needed new arena for the Oilers.
There will be no more cash calls for the Edmonton Oilers. There will be no more ‘Save the Oilers’ campaigns. Now that the franchise is on solid ground, the group of community-minded owners must now take it to another level and it could do a lot worse than handing that responsibility to a passionate billionaire with strong local roots.
ONE-SIDED, BUT FOR WHOM?
It’s amazing how perceptions can change with the passage of time.
Remember when everyone was snickering – nay, outright laughing – at the New York Islanders for offering goalie Rick DiPietro a 15-year contract worth $67.5 million?
Remember coming out of the lockout the prevailing opinion was the owners took the players behind the woodshed and laid an epic beating on them?
Wrong on both, as it turns out.
This was once again proven Thursday when the Philadelphia Flyers offered Mike Richards a 12-year-deal worth a whopping $69 million, a salary cap hit of $5.75 million per season.
All of a sudden, the DiPietro contract doesn’t look that funny. The Islanders committed long-term to a goalie who could be the best in the league for a number of years. The Flyers, meanwhile, committed long-term to a player they expect will be their captain in a few years, but may never have the on-ice impact that DiPietro might have someday.
As far as the players being beaten down by the lockout, Richards will now receive guaranteed money for the next 12 years and gets a 610 percent raise on an entry-level contract.
Looks to me like the owners got killed again.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.