Katz Reaches Out to Oilers Fans
Daryl Katz wrote an open letter to the fans of the Edmonton Oilers, appealing to them for patience in the slow rebuild process. Oil Country is teeming with all sorts of hockey-related emotions: frustration, helplessness, sadness. It has been a long time since the Oilers were successful, and this year emotions have started to boil over. The owner of the Oilers did the only thing he realistically could do at this point in a lost season: he reached out to the ultimate supporters of his team, the fans.
“We all thought this was going to be the year the Oilers turned the corner,” said Katz, acknowledging the fact that the team just seems to be getting worse instead of better. Maybe it has only been four years since the Oilers drafted Taylor Hall, but for fans it still feels like an eternity. The Oilers have the occasional good game, but for the most part it all just feels bad. The Oilers hold the current NHL record for most seasons without reaching the playoffs, a record they would surely like to be rid of. But, as Katz says, “this will almost certainly be the eighth consecutive year since we made the playoffs.” It’s a tough record to hold, but it is the reality of the season.
Katz went on to commend his team for the strides they have made during the rebuild, including drafting high calibre players like Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov. More importantly, they signed highly sought-after players like Justin Schultz and traded for strong players like David Perron. Schultz agreeing to sign with Edmonton proved to the NHL that the Oilers have what it takes to attract free agents. Time will tell if the recent Oilers trades to improve their goaltending and size will be successful, but, as Katz pointed out, at least the team is doing something.
Katz Stands Behind Team’s Management
The frustration of fans with the Oilers management team is clearly not lost on Katz. He wrote in defence of Kevin Lowe, the Oilers President of Hockey Operations, acknowledging Lowe’s importance to the organization. He also made it clear that Craig MacTavish, who is in his first year as Oilers General Manager, is ultimately responsible for “building a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup.”
These assurances might not calm the tempers flaring in Oilers fans, but at least they give the management some credibility. Katz stands behind their moves, their trades, and their signings, reiterating his trust in the organization.
What Can Fans Take From It?
To Oilers fans, this might seem like a desperate move by an owner worried he has lost the fan base. But really, this is Katz’s attempt to show that he is in this as much as anyone. The team’s struggles are not lost on him, nor is the frustration felt in the city. The Oilers are a work in progress. The fans just have to be patient.
I have gained experience writing for the sports section of The Gateway, the campus newspaper for the University of Alberta and blogging for puckrant.com. I am completing my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with aspirations to try my hand at sports writing for a career.