Daryl Katz wants a new arena in Edmonton

rexallDaryl Katz, founder of the Rexall pharmacy company, announced yesterday that he had acquired 100% of the outstanding shares in the Edmonton Investors Group (EIG), making him the new owner of the Edmonton Oilers (pending league approval which is widely expected to come without any problems). Here’s what the somewhat reclusive Katz said in yesterday’s statement:

“Like the EIG and all Edmontonians, I want what is best for the team, the
community and the city. I want to help secure a world-class building and
continue the EIG’s legacy by bringing the Cup back to Edmonton.”

Today he held a press conference with select members of the media, which I listened to on 630ched. It was the first time since he started pursuing the Oilers last March that we’ve heard him speak about his motivations. I found most of his answers to be fairly simplistic, without much meat behind them. He said “I can’t comment on that” quite a few times.

One thing he did make clear, however, is that he is eager to see a new arena built in the heart of downtown. He wants the Oilers to play at the centre of the community.

Katz has suggested he’d be willing to commit $100 million towards the construction of a new arena. With estimates for the project ranging from $250 million to over $500 million (and possibly as high as $1 billion depending on the scope), there’s a lot of funding that will need to come from somewhere else. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe it should come from taxpayers. All Katz said today was that “there are lots of ways to fund real estate.”

I’m glad Katz is the new owner of the Oilers. Almost everyone associated with the team seems to like him, and I don’t think there’s any question that he’s got Edmonton’s best interests at heart. He also seems fairly level-headed about things, making clear today that he wants to read a pending report on the feasibility of a new arena before making any decisions.

That said, I hope his eagerness to build a new rink in Edmonton’s downtown does not turn into blind determination. Katz needs to be able to say no if it becomes clear that a new arena will only happen with significant public funding, at the expense of other, more important public projects.

Bid on an Oilers jersey signed by the entire team!

Post ImageTomorrow evening is the 2nd Annual RestorAction Charity Gala, presented by the Youth Restorative Action Project (YRAP) and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton (EFRY). In addition to comedy, live music, and dancing, the event features a silent auction. One of the big ticket items in the auction is an Edmonton Oilers jersey.

This isn’t just any Oilers jersey though – it is signed by the entire team! If that doesn’t make you drool hockey fans, nothing will.

Here’s the best part: you can make a bid even if you aren’t attending the gala tomorrow! To do so:

  1. Come up with your maximum bid amount.
  2. Email it to me at mastermaq@gmail.com no later than 3:45 PM tomorrow, October 13th, 2007.

Everyone attending the gala will have the final opportunity to bid, between 6:30 PM and 9:30 PM tomorrow. There are still a few tickets available ($70) if you’d like to attend.

Happy bidding!

UPDATE: The jersey ended up going for $675! Thanks everyone!

Read: RestorAction

Why not move to Edmonton?

Post ImageI’d like to take a moment to share with you some figures, statistics, and other information about the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As most of you reading this are probably aware, I live in Edmonton. I was born here, moved away for most of my youth, and have been back since 1998. I love the city, and while it is not without its faults, there are much worse places to live.

  • Edmonton is the capital city of the province of Alberta.
  • Edmonton is the sixth largest metropolitan region in Canada according to the 2006 Census, with a population of 1,034,945. (Source)
  • It is also the northernmost North American city with a metropolitan population over 1 million. (Source)
  • The population density of the Edmonton region is just 109.9 persions per square km. This is half the population density of the Calgary region, 1/7 of the Vancouver region, 1/8th of the Montreal region, 1/2 the Ottawa region, and 1/8th of the Toronto region. (Source)
  • Edmonton is home to West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest shopping mall, and the third largest in the world. (Source)
  • WEM also holds the world record for the largest car park. (Source)
  • Edmonton receives 2,289 hours of sunlight each year, making it one of Canada’s sunniest cities. (Source)
  • There are more than 60,000 full time post-secondary students studying at schools in the Edmonton area. (Source)
  • A very impressive 66,000 new jobs are projected to be created in the Edmonton region between 2006 and 2010. (Source)
  • Edmonton did not make the 2006 list of most expensive cities in which to live (the list contained 150 cities). Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal all made the list. (Source)
  • Edmonton was named the Cultural Capital of Canada for the year 2007. (Source)
  • The annual Fringe festival is the largest alternative theatre event in North America. (Source)
  • Edmonton’s 60,000-plus elm trees make up the largest concentration of disease-free elm trees in the world. (Source)
  • Alberta is North America’s only rat free area (not including the territories). (Source)
  • Edmonton has 225 kilometers of designated bikeways, and 41 off-leash parks to walk with your dog. (Source)
  • The River Valley park system is the longest urban park in North America, 21.7 times larger than New York’s Central Park. (Source)
  • Edmonton is home to five professional sports franchises, including the very successful Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos. (Source)
  • Air quality in Edmonton is rated as good (the best level) at least 90% of the time for any given year. (Source)
  • Edmonton leads the nation in effective waste management. For example, the city’s curbside recycling program has reduced by 60% the waste sent to landfills. (Source)
  • Edmonton is down right beautiful at times, as you can see in the thousands and thousands of photos available at Flickr. (Source)

I could go on, but that’s a good start.

I look at #4, the population density, as a good thing. It may be a negative thing for hockey players and other celebrities seeking anonymity, however. One other negative that comes to mind is that we have a relatively high homicide rate, though it’s not as bad as rural regions of Alberta. Aside from that, what’s so bad about Edmonton?

Why do the wives of hockey players not want to live here? Is it just that Chris Pronger and Michael Nylander married nutcases, or is there more to it?

I don’t get it. However, unlike a lot of folks out there, I don’t think the blame falls entirely on Kevin Lowe’s shoulders. There’s got to be more to it. I’ll have more on this at SportsGuru this weekend, and I suspect my Dad might too.

What’s missing?

Oilers lose ten straight

Post ImageJust got back from the Oilers game. The Blues were in town tonight, complete with a bunch of ex-Oilers like Dvorak and Brewer (both of whom got points tonight). The Oil came into the game having lost their last nine games, and I was hoping my presence would stop the streak from going to ten. It didn’t.

You can read a game recap here. Dickson scored the tickets from a friend, and they were excellent – section 136, row 3. I don’t think I have ever sat that close before. We were right near the attacking zone blue line. It’s quite different seeing someone get crunched on the boards when you’re that close, let me tell you!

We also had club access, which is basically a mini-concourse downstairs. The club access is really nice because the bathrooms and bars are far less busy than those on the main concourse. We didn’t see any food vendors though, so maybe you still have to go back upstairs for that.

Anyway, we lost in overtime (I was hoping to see a shootout). That makes ten straight, just one away from matching the franchise record. The only positives now are seeing the young guys get some experience (and goals).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Smyth – Heavyweight Champion of Puck Tipping

Post ImageI’m still sad that Ryan Smyth is no longer an Oiler. I was happy to read about him in an article on NHL.com though. Author Evan Grossman calls Smyth the “heavyweight champion of puck tipping,” and has some excellent quotes from Smyth and Brodeur:

“That guy is unbelievable,” Brodeur said. “You can count all his goals over the season and I don’t think you could add them up to the blue line.”

Smyth says it’s all about practice:

“It’s the old cliché, practice makes perfect,” said Smyth, who was traded to the Isles from Edmonton at the trade deadline. “I do it every game day, at every morning skate, just tip pucks.”

After losing their fifth straight game last night, I think it’s safe to say the Oilers are definitely missing Ryan right now.

Read: NHL.com

More on the trade

I just got the Edmonton Oilers Pipeline email regarding the trade, which includes comments from Kevin Lowe and Patrick LaForge. Lowe says:

I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial.

I want everyone to know that our decision was much more to do with a plan than a reaction.

A hockey decision?! Trading your top player who you can clearly afford is not a good hockey decision in my book. And LaForge had this to say:

We can afford to spend the money necessary to have the kind of elite players expected.

Is that right? Then why not spend the money to keep Ryan Smyth?

I also think the headline on EdmontonOilers.com proves just how bad a deal this is.

Oilers obtain Nilsson and O’Marra

Nuh uh. “Oilers fuck up and trade Ryan Smyth” should be the headline.

Oilers trade Smyth

Post ImageMegan just sent me a text message, asking if I had heard that the Edmonton Oilers traded Ryan Smyth. No, I had not heard. But now that I have, I am upset. As my Dad said on MSN just now:

as a fan I am hurt

That about sums it up. Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders for Ryan O’Marra, Robert Nilsson, and a first round pick in 2007. My Dad points out that “Robert Nilsson is the son of ex-Oiler and ex-Flame Kent Nilsson.” What a shitty deal. They might be good prospects, but I think this will be regarded as a bad trade for Kevin Lowe and the Oilers.

When my Dad and my brother were in town this past week, we talked about the trade deadline approaching. We agreed that it didn’t matter who the Oilers traded, as long as it wasn’t Smyth, Moreau, Stoll, or Hemsky. Anyone else would have been fine, even Roloson.

TSN and the Oilers site are horribly slow, and I haven’t found a link for this yet, but my Dad is listening to the guys on TSN and says:

It appears that there are lots of GMs pissed at Kevin. they didn’t think Ryan was available and if he was they would definitely have made good offers. it appears this was rushed together when Ryan didn’t sign today

You’ll have to check out my Dad’s blog later tonight, he’s got some good comments. We are chatting as I type this, and he just made a good point: wasn’t the new CBA supposed to prevent something like this from happening?

Evidently not. I guess the Oilers have given up on the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the crowd reacts tonight, given that it is Mark Messier night.

Read: TSN

NHL schedule change failed by one vote

Post ImageTurns out the proposed NHL schedule change failed today, receiving 19 of 30 votes (a two-thirds majority would have been required for it to pass). Edmonton Oilers chairman Cal Nicols wasn’t happy with the decision:

“The politics seem to always enter into it,” Nichols said after the meeting. “I think we should be more concerned about the future of the game than specific interests or it’s going to cost me a few more thousand dollars to travel a few extra miles. This shouldn’t be about that. It’s about the game.”

According to the TSN article, Montreal is believed to have been the only Canadian team to vote against the change.

I think the board of governors made a mistake today. Hopefully they change their minds for the 2008-09 season.

Read: TSN

NHL likely to revert to pre-lockout sked

Post ImageThe NHL schedule is a hot topic here in the west, and according to TSN it is likely that the league will revert to the pre-lockout format in which all 30 teams play each other at least once per season. This means that teams like the Oilers would be guaranteed to have at least one game with the NHL’s hottest stars like Ovechkin and Crosby who can draw big numbers to games.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has not taken a stand on the issue so far and has basically allowed teams to make their cases, but one source said it might be time for the league to step in. The feeling is that if there is an appetite for change, Bettman will facilitate it.

Apparently New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello favors the current schedule and is leading the charge for eastern teams who would prefer not to change. The league’s board of governors meets tomorrow to discuss the schedule and the Penguins situation, among other things.

Read: TSN

The NHL needs to fire McGeough

Post ImageWhenever Michael McGeough is assigned to officiate an Oiler game, I cringe. Tonight he proved exactly why. The Oilers just lost to the Dallas Stars by a final score of 3-2, but the Stars were helped immensely by the officials in this one.

The first Stars goal should not have been allowed. Roloson was in his crease and was interfered with, which according to NHL rule #78 should have been immediately disallowed. Neither official on the ice made a peep, and the goal was allowed to stand.

Late in the third period, with the score 3-1 for the Stars, the Oilers pulled Roloson and managed to get to within one. Then, with less than half a minute to go, Hemsky scored. This time though, McGeough immediately waved it off, very emphatically I might add. He claimed that Horcoff made a glove pass off the draw. First of all, it’s really not hard to distinguish between a glove and a stick, and Horcoff clearly used his stick. The play was entirely legal. Secondly, McGeough was horribly out of position and could not possibly have had a good look at the draw. Which leads to the question – why did he wave it off?

Because he’s a fucking idiot, that’s why. The play could not be reviewed apparently, and the Oilers were robbed of one, possibly two points by the sheer stupidity of McGeough. I don’t blame the fans for throwing anything and everything on the ice.

Seriously, the NHL needs to review this game and make sure McGeough never officiates again in the league. This kind of atrocious stupidity cannot be tolerated.