Thursday, January 03, 2008

Oilers deal off?

An apparent turf war between rival factions in the current Edmonton Oilers ownership group is slowing down and perhaps putting in peril the deal to sell the team to local pharmacy entrepreneur Daryl Katz.

Katz, who has been obsessive in his numerous bids to purchase the storied Edmonton franchise may be third time unlucky near the end of January, that's when its expected that the current board would recommend the team's shareholders reject the 188 million dollar Katz offer.

The board is stirring up questions over whether Katz would guarantee that the team would remain in Edmonton and whether he would pony up some of his own money to get a new hockey palace built in the Alberta capital.

The structure of the Oilers ownership, with its numerous members while giving the team a sense of community is also a situation that can throw more than a few roadblocks into progress for the franchise.

While roughly half of the current shareholders are willing to take Katz up on his offer, the other half seem determined to keep the issue a high profile one for the foreseeable future. Perhaps they are seeking out a larger payout from Katz, some suggest that it's real estate that is really behind the latest divisions or maybe it's just city jealousies that have laid down the latest twist in the Oilers saga.

The seemingly reclusive Mr. Katz doesn't help his side of the deal by keeping a low profile and providing little in the way of information as to his intentions. And part of his mystery seems to be feeding any number of conspiracy thoughts these days around Rexall Place.

Regardless of the reasons, the prospect for a quick seamless changeover seems gone now, instead it could turn into a quest for just enough shareholders willing to sell to put Katz over the top, leaving the remainders sitting on their shares wondering what is next.

An interesting strategy but one that could be rather destructive for the remaining shareholders and the Oilers as well. Not to mention the divisions that it may be creating among the Oiler faithful who once saw their franchise in near peril and now worry that history may once again be ready to repeat.

Edmonton Sun--Come clean? Come on!
Edmonton Sun--Not so fast!

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