Friday, November 27, 2009


If I were a rich man

The best news for Lowe is that in lieu of results, Lowe loves excuses so she's got one right off the bat before camp even starts.

The bad news is that run of luck last year with the injuries and such doens't seem to have abated. Of course Lowe made a lot of his own luck by leaving the team so fucking thin with the Pronger and Smyth disasters.

I dunno, anytime you read LT and he's talking about how pivotal a player Sanderson is, well then it's not a good day. But Lowe's contract still hasn't been renewed so maybe if we suck for '08 and that leads to his dismissal, it will be best for all concerned.

That's the inimitable Dennis King, on the 5th day of September, 2007.

I have no idea if Darryl Katz has the management skills, or organizational know-how, or whatever to turn the Edmonton Oilers into a decent hockey organization. I would submit, however, that he misunderestimated what he was getting into when he bought the place. Evidence supports, though does not prove or disprove, the following:
  1. He had an "End Of History" mentality about fan support. As in, it would/will never be an issue again.
  2. He didn't think that this organization needed "managing", in the same way as the rest of his empire.
  3. His financial justification for purchasing was that a (mostly) publicly funded arena was a very sweet deal, and pretty close to a slam dunk.
Kevin Lowe was not one of my boyhood/yuppiehood idols. But if I bought the Oilers (and he didn't have a lengthy record of failure) I would certainly assume that he knew more about assembling a successful hockey team than I do. At the very least, I would know, for a fact, that he knows more about hockey than I do.

So I think what I'd do at that point is this: (1) assure him that he had complete freedom to run his hockey operations in accordance with his own philosophy, and (2) have him explain to me in a fair bit of detail what that philosophy is.

And then (3), which is the key: I'm going to have to sign off on any moves with financial significance. Look, per (1) I have no interest in interfering with your philosophy, Kevin. Just explain how various moves fit in with that philosophy, and I'll sign off. If they do not, I won't.

I'm seriously not trying to be snarky here either. I think I'd give the guy (say) $120k earmarked for two assistants. "I'm a businessman, so I like numbers. Here's salary for two people, to help you provide them. If you like, you can use them exclusively to support your own point of view and defend it to me."

Dunno. Things are changing. The appetite in Edmonton for a tax-subsidized downtown megaplex is waning, without question. While I've met a handful of people in Edmonton who think a downtown arena would be something they'd like, I haven't met one who sees it as a civic imperative. (And I actually know quite a few people who think in these terms.)

I'm probably underestimating Darryl Katz' intelligence, but it sure as hell looks to me like he bought a business that had permanent popularity and was about to win the lottery; now, he actually has to figure out a way to maintain revenue, possibly without the giant novelty cheque. For the Oilers' sake, he'd better show more in the next 2 years than he has in the last 2.


As with all pyramid schemes, sooner or later there's a "last investor" and then the whole things collapses.

It's quite possible that what we're experiencing is the collapse of the pyramid scheme that is pro sports ownership.

The one that goes like this:

Buy a team that's struggling at the gate, in bankruptcy, or is no longer a writeoff for its current owner.

Promise to bring big changes while simultaneously threatening to move the team unless local taxpayers cough up for a new building that you'll own even though you'll pay little or nothing to get the project done. Also, vote for repeated expansion (and the fees it brings).

Sell team and building at jaw-dropping leveraged profit.

See: George II Bush's "ownership" of the Texas Rangers and numerous other examples in the past 2-3 decades across the four majors. I confidently predict Mario Lemieux will eventually join this illustrious group.

Somebody has to be the guy who buys just as the scheme no longer works. It's possible that guy is Katz.

As a taxpayer, I certainly hope that's the case.

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