Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Oilers no longer for sale, EIG says

The Oilers ownership has voted to reject Darryl Katz's third attempt to buy the team, TSN.ca is reporting. (The smaller, unedited edmontonjournal.com story calls the vote "overwhelming.")

At a news conference this afternoon, Cal Nichols also announced that the group has decided that the Oilers are no longer for sale.

Are they serious? Tough to say. You can see why the motivation to sell is low here, given that the Oilers are in the top 10 when it comes to league profits. But given that Katz's most current bid of $170-million was a $25-million increase over his previous offer, you have to think the EIG is playing coy until the price tag crests $200-million. I'm only speculating, of course, because I don't really know anything about the Oilers' actual financial situation. But without a new arena, the Oilers earning potential may have hit a ceiling, and there has to come a point where the return from a buyout will be enough to convince more than half of the 34 EIG investors to take the wad they're offered and cram it into the oilsands instead.

Hopefully, this latest rebuff won't be the one that scares Katz off. This franchise needs some new blood, and for some reason I like the guy.

UPDATE 4 p.m.: Couple choice quotes from Nichols have emerged in the expanded journal.com file, linked above.

"This is not about dollars. This is about Edmonton. An ownership group is best-suited for Edmonton and the Oilers."

...

Nichols said Katz's attempts to buy the team have caused "collateral damage" and he hoped the outright refusal to sell brings the team needed stability.

"I hope that this, at least for the near term, puts an end to the offer thing because this has been a bit of a circus for four months."

There you go, everyone. The ownership group is what's best for the Oilers. So says the ownership group. Did anyone at this news conference bother to ask why this is, exactly?

Also, I don't live in Edmonton anymore so I don't have a clear sense on how the Katz "circus" have "destabilized" the team, but yeah. Has there really been that much controversy around this? The process seemed pretty low-key and dignified from this perspective.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

So... Can we look forward to another dismal Oil season now? Coaching staff, front office, owners, arena - the same. Team - shuffled, but still decidedly mediocre...

Loxy said...

Hey, EIG!

Get the stick out of your ass and realize your time as saviors of the small market franchise is done.

epi said...

It was not a business decision...


It's all about the love.

d. said...

This sucks. Again.

epi said...

Bettman in March on the sale (according to CFN):

"I fear for the collateral damage."

wtf?

epi said...

Just finished listening to the press conference and Cal Nichols sure sounds like a massive dick.

garnet said...

Did he suggest Rob Katz leave his wife?

epi said...

I'm sure he wanted to. What a pathetic whiner.

You know, you read about comments like the pronger/wife statement and you imagine it was sort of off-the-cuff in a moment of extreme frustration, but now I know otherwise.

Holy crap, it's a good thing he has money or he'd get punched a lot. In the face.

Scarlett said...

So now the EIG is going to spend 90% to the Cap (states Cal in the press conference)? Where was this commitment to spending last year? Bullshit. Please go away EIG. Go far far away.

Art Vandelay said...

EIG will not sell until the Katz offer matches or exceeds the present value of whatever cash flow and equity benefits they expect to gain from the new arena - which is all but in the bag. Balsillie did the same thing with the Preds - offered $50M more because he got a sweetheart deal from the City of Hamilton on Copps Coliseum. Since the Oilers make money and the Predators lose money, how could the Oilers sell for anything less than the $220 Ballsy was willing to pay for the Preds? Katz is low-balling. By a lot.

marchantfan said...

Honest to God, the comments on this blog are solid gold, Jerry.

Also, what is the over-under on the local media holding ownership accountable for not selling if they don't spend to the cap or invest in their own arena?

SweatyO said...

Collateral damage?

How about the damage caused by dumbass comments about players choosing their place of employment over their families, Cal?

What an arrogant fuck.

Rod said...

That circus...it was a crazy thing called "hope."

Disappointed Oiler fan here. Not surprised though. This group that claimed it was always just in it for the city. Today's actions--the vote, and Nichols' comments--clearly prove otherwise.

LittleFury said...

It's nice to know that the same term usually reserved for incidents involving decapitated grandmas and babies disemboweled by Hellfire missiles now also captures Cal Nichol’s hurt feelings.

Asshole.

Anonymous said...

Nichol's used the Brewers and Giants of the MLB as examples of the new generation of teams w/ ownership groups instead of an owner. Great. The Brewers and Giants are good examples of ownership groups that care about profits over championships because none of the owners are billionaires.
Katz 1
EIG 0

Nichol's also brought up the point that their research says Edmontonians prefer a multi-owner group opposed to a single owner. He must be referring to that cleverly worded "survey" that Tyler kicked the living shit out of a week or two ago.
Katz 2
EIG 0

Also this:

Reporter: Cal, do you foresee Katz coming back with another offer in the coming months?

Cal: You'd have to ask him that. (incorrect)

Reporter: Uh, Katz does Cal foresee you coming back with another offer?

Katz: You'd have to ask him that. (correct)

Also, Rod is 100% right. No circus, just hope.


Lobster.

PS my word verification is mhicol, too close to Cal Nichols for my liking.

JustAnotherOilStain said...

Cal Nichols is a scumbag. 90% to the cap??

How about giving people what they want: the full fucking 100, you cheap-ass, taxpayer-robbing, cocktail circuit insider crumb-bums.

David S said...

Fuuuuuuck!

Man. And I thought the reader comments on TSN's article were brutal!

Nichols is a car salesman. He's just gone back to the manager for the final bump. Katz isn't stupid. He knows this and he'll be back soon enough.

Somehow I knew that survey would be used as a justification for all this. I'd really like to see the profile of the "special" 4000 SSH's who were polled. Bet it was all the old farts pretty much guaranteed to uphold the EIG's position. No doubt a general public survey would put things in the proper perspective. Which is why it will never see the light of day.

Nichols = Asshole
Laforge = Asswipe

Chris! said...

"Man. And I thought the reader comments on TSN's article were brutal!"

Are you referring to anything in particular? I'm confused.

David S said...

Chris!: Check out the comments (in yellow) underneath the article on TSN's website. Sorry, should have been more articulate.

Avi Schaumberg said...

What's destabilized? Last week he was crowing that season tickets sold out in record time.

Rock Deputy said...

Considering that the average Oilers fan has grown accustom to lost opportunities, disappointment and frustration with the Oilers management, maybe Cal Nichols and the EIG are "best suited for Edmonton".

A new arena, spending to the cap and much needed changes in team management would only get our hopes up.

That said, business will be good for the sarcastic, pessimistic Oilogosphere.

Pleasure Motors said...

I mean, there's going out of your way to blast a guy, and then there's this.

Nichols was the one that used the term. If anybody gets blamed for being over the top, it's the guy who compares getting offered millions and millions of dollars to sell a hockey team to war.

And if you think any differently, the terrorists have already won.

LittleFury said...

Oh man, you're a fucking treat littlefury.

I mean, there's going out of your way to blast a guy, and then there's this.


Y'Tell me mclea: is being a persnickety little twat a reflex action, or do you actually sit back and think about the shit you post? Or is it simply that you're hard up for attention again?

Chris! said...

Make that a persnickety little deleted twat.

Let's not allow McLea's random petty assholery to derail another thread.

McLea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
McLea said...

Make that a persnickety little deleted twat

I just got served.

Lord Bob said...

Am I the only one still loving the fact that the great, capitalistic province of Alberta tries to murder the owners of its sports teams for trying to make money? Like, "we're only at 95% of the cap, therefore everybody involved with the team down to Joey Moss and the guys who serve popcorn should be shot at the base of the skull".

Seriously. I don't quite get what the EIG did that's so bad. I don't understand. Note that "Kevin Lowe is an asshat" is not a valid answer as Katz and Lowe are tight.

McLea said...

+ 1 Lord Bob

Paul said...

The EIG haven't put this team in a position to compete. Even the Cup run was a product not of a great team, but of a great player (pronger) a great performance (roloson) and a bunch of guys playing way above their heads for two months.

David S said...

Thanks for that Paul.

More simply put, because it should be about the TEAM, not the owners. Just the fact that we're pissed about the EIG and not the team on this thread pretty much says it all.

Katz would put the team first. THEN he'd make his profit. Its what successful business owners do.

Lord Bob said...

The EIG haven't put this team in a position to compete. Even the Cup run was a product not of a great team, but of a great player (pronger) a great performance (roloson) and a bunch of guys playing way above their heads for two months.

That's not an answer, that's a soundbite.

What do you want them to do? Kill Lauren Pronger, give Joe Thornton mind control drugs, and find some magic way to spend their way to a championship in a salary cap world just like the Maple Leafs and Rangers always did? Where did the EIG fail in the post-saving-us-from-cheering-for-the-Houston-Oilers years?

Anonymous said...

"Nichols = Asshole
Laforge = Asswipe"

...ah shit man, I'll still be laughing over that one at this time tomorrow...

Jan Itor

mc79hockey said...

Am I the only one still loving the fact that the great, capitalistic province of Alberta tries to murder the owners of its sports teams for trying to make money?

Hey, listen to what Nichols keeps telling us Lord Bob. It's not about making money, its about the City of Edmonton! Only thing is, those silly buggers seem to keep making money hand over fist by mistake, all the while telling us that they're doing this out of the goodness of their hearts for the City and cheaping out on players. Whoops!

Paul said...

I want to see them put a GM in place who know how to properly value his draft picks, and understands that over-drafting just because you like a guy devalues your 1st rounder when you could have gotten him in the third. A GM who is better able to cope with things not going his way in the free agent market and who is able to sell the city of Edmonton and the Oilers to potential UFAs (Lowe is no salesman).

I want the team president and ownership rep who aren't constantly spinning the PR machine (I mean, how often do we hear from someone in calgary who isn't Sutter/Keenan?) And to not imply players should divorce their unhappy wives.

I want them to spend to the cap.

I want them to pay for their own arena.

I want the owners to be more concerned with winning than they are with making this a community team.

I want the owners to stop hiring former Oilers in order to accomplish this.

They've done nothing wrong in refusing to sell the team or in trying to make a profit—that's their perogative as owners—but they have done plenty wrong in all of this. And even in their responses to why, saying the city is better with an ownership group (again, why?) and stating that this has caused collateral damage.

They didn't fail in the saving from Houston era, but they have failed significantly in the salary-cap era everywhere but the bottom line. It shouldn't be a question of "Would you rather suck here or be competitive elsewhere?" Why can't it be both?

And, as an aside, if doing both is physically in possible (and not just because of incompetence), then the Oilers should have gotten the fuck out of dodge, because there is no place in any professional sporting league for a team that is physically incapable of being competitive. That however, is not what I believe we are dealing with here.

Pleasure Motors said...

Where did the EIG fail in the post-saving-us-from-cheering-for-the-Houston-Oilers years?

My first instinct is to say "Cal Nichols," but I suppose that's more a pithy remark than an answer. Seriously, though, that's why I'm cheering for Katz: the rest of the EIG probably has another decade of good will banked for saving our team, but Nichols cashed his last cheque when he used the "Bros before hoes" argument in the Pronger case.

I also happen to think Katz would be better for the team, of course--not that the EIG is necessarily bad, just that Katz would be better--but really, I think that's just a fortunate bounce at this point.

Lord Bob said...

Hey, listen to what Nichols keeps telling us Lord Bob. It's not about making money, its about the City of Edmonton! Only thing is, those silly buggers seem to keep making money hand over fist by mistake, all the while telling us that they're doing this out of the goodness of their hearts for the City and cheaping out on players. Whoops!

So, we hate the EIG because they market themselves? Should we hate Katz for his press conference where he pretty well said he'd get the Oilers the moon to practice on?

I want to see them put a GM in place who know how to properly value his draft picks, and understands that over-drafting just because you like a guy devalues your 1st rounder when you could have gotten him in the third. A GM who is better able to cope with things not going his way in the free agent market and who is able to sell the city of Edmonton and the Oilers to potential UFAs (Lowe is no salesman).

So, you don't want Katz. Thanks for clearing that up, though I don't see why that makes this announcement a bad thing.

I want the team president and ownership rep who aren't constantly spinning the PR machine (I mean, how often do we hear from someone in calgary who isn't Sutter/Keenan?) And to not imply players should divorce their unhappy wives.

Another complaint that marketing exists. This seems to be a pretty common thread.

I want them to spend to the cap.

We're having a revolution over five percent before the beginning of the preseason?

I want them to pay for their own arena.

Translation: I want a magic pixie who is a multigrillionaire and yet is the sort of guy who'd say "shucks, mayor, I'd love to take half a billion dollars of free money, but I think that would be a misallocation of civic funds." Sounds to me like you want a decent mayor, not a new owner.

I want the owners to be more concerned with winning than they are with making this a community team.

I want the owners to stop hiring former Oilers in order to accomplish this.


Still don't want Katz and his tight ties to the old school. Right.

Nichols cashed his last cheque when he used the "Bros before hoes" argument in the Pronger case.

Admittedly, Nichols is an asshole. That point, I will certainly give you.

Paul said...

it's not that we're upset about Marketing bob, it's that claiming last season's ending scrubs were "still comeptitive" is bullshit and he still said it.

As for the arena, Katz had pledged to contribute his own funds, which is more than anyone in the EIG has bothered to do yet.

And as for Katz's ties to the old guard, he'd still inevitably clean house and put his guys in, especially after another disappointing season. Every new owner does it eventually (EIG excepted apparently).

Lord Bob said...

it's not that we're upset about Marketing bob, it's that claiming last season's ending scrubs were "still comeptitive" is bullshit and he still said it.

How many businessmen say "yeah, our product is ass" that often?

Tania said...

Is "Lord Bob" Cal Nichols? I love how he's making you guys prove what idiots the EIG are. I think this past season would make that self-evident. No sound bites needed.

Anytime that Calgary finishes ahead of Edmonton in the standings and the owners don't do anything sane to change that, is the owners' fault.

Now you prove to me otherwise.

Lord Bob said...

Anytime that Calgary finishes ahead of Edmonton in the standings and the owners don't do anything sane to change that, is the owners' fault.

Here's the big, ten billion dollar question.

Suppose you think that, because his team had one bad year, Kevin Lowe is the stupidest man on the face of the planet.

Given that Daryl Katz is tight with Kevin Lowe and seems to support him at least as much as the EIG, why in the name of all that is copper and blue do you think he would be an improvement?

Nobody has answered this question except Paul, and his answer was "all owners can guys who suck except for the ones who don't", which isn't exactly compelling.

(P.S. to Cal and Pat: my cheque is in the mail, right?)

mc79hockey said...

Easy question to answer. Right now, it's hard to know whether EIG or Lowe should take the blame for some of the more egregious fuckups - trading Pronger for cheap shit, refusing to sign Smyth and then signing Souray (I think Penner is an absurd signing but I'll tip my cap to the public perception that it's closer to the line.)

Getting rid of the nickel and dime crowd is step one in terms of being able to get an evaluation of Lowe on his merits.

bipoiler said...

Because he would spend to the fucking cap, dumbass!

But more seriously, I believe I speak for the entire Oilogosphere when I say that any reasonable change in direction is better than no change in direction for the Edmonton Oilers.

bipoilerism said...

Right now, it's hard to know whether EIG or Lowe should take the blame for some of the more egregious fuckups - trading Pronger for cheap shit

Not to mention trading Pronger for the grandson of one of the EIG members.

Fuck, I hate the EIG. I cannot stress it enough.

RiversQ said...

Lord Bob said...

Suppose you think that, because his team had one bad year, Kevin Lowe is the stupidest man on the face of the planet.


I think we can pretty safely say that's going to be two bad years. Also, Lowe's record with respect to making the playoffs is pretty underwhelming.

Given that Daryl Katz is tight with Kevin Lowe and seems to support him at least as much as the EIG, why in the name of all that is copper and blue do you think he would be an improvement?

Where did all this "Lowe-and-Katz-are-tight" stuff come from anyway? I'm out of the loop, but is there any documented evidence of this fact? I see it alot and I've never seen any reputable sources quoted.

Regardless, the easy answer is that Lowe would have more money to cover his mistakes. That would be a marginal improvement any way you slice it.

Lord Bob said...

Because he would spend to the fucking cap, dumbass!

But more seriously, I believe I speak for the entire Oilogosphere when I say that any reasonable change in direction is better than no change in direction for the Edmonton Oilers.


1) Daryl Katz has said he will spend to the cap. Cal Nichols also said he would spend to the cap (before he got one). We are currently a third-liner away from this same cap, and training camp has not started yet.

2) "Any change is better than no change" landed us Dustin Penner for three draft picks and $9 zillion. Discuss.

Getting rid of the nickel and dime crowd is step one in terms of being able to get an evaluation of Lowe on his merits.

I actually agree with this. It certainly would make it a lot easier, but changing owners in order to evaluate a general manager seems a bit backwards to me.

mc79hockey said...

Why is it backwards? It makes perfect sense to me. We've got an owner who will remove all doubt with respect to the werewithal given to the GM as opposed to the EIG, where it's really who the fuck knows - I mean, even now, they're still pushing this 10% below the cap to start the season nonsense.

All other things being the same, I'd rather have the guy who removes that spectre of doubt and I don't really think that all other things are the same here.

Peter Puck II said...

My main beef is that after a highly successful playoff run with 12 sold out home playoff games (at what, $1M per?) how did the team respond?

1. Raised ticket prices an average of 12.4%

2. Dumped a bunch of UFA's (saving dough)

3. Traded Pronger for prospects (saving dough)

4. Resigned a middling bunch of players to overpaid contracts.

5. Didn't sign Smyth when they could have had him for <5Million.

6. Didn't sign anyone of note.

7. Didn't come close to the 90% cap.

8. Even though they needed a puck moving defenseman they traded MABS for futures (dumped contracts) because he was a "defensive liability".

9. Traded Smyth for futures (dumped contracts) instead of signing him to the 5.5 Million contract that he wanted and then trading his ass to Columbus or some other backwater like Slats would have done. Now we have to put up with having this guy play 40 games against us in the next 5 years.

10. Subjected their customers (errr, fans) to 20 games of the most pathetic NHL hockey ever played in the city (and blamed it on injuries instead of the fact they traded/released everyone and didn't bring in any new blood).

11. Decided they needed a puck rushing defenceman and signed Souray to 5.4 Million a year to replace MABS (at 1 Million per year). I wonder how long it will be before we hear "defensive liability" again? Except now it will be a 5.4 Million dollar defensive liability.

12. Decided to replace Smyth with a 24 year old undrafted rookie for $4.25 Million, giving up 3 draft picks and possibly losing an impact player next draft if they tank.

13. Ran up some outrageous salaries to put us close to the Cap yet amazingly enough, no first line.

14. Turned down a generous offer to sell their team because who wants to lose a cash cow?

Result?
The owners had better pray that the team doesn't tank and finish at the bottom because they could lose their cash cow very quickly if next season is anything close to what happened last season.

Plus, they have annoyed at least 2 GM's in the league and with 9 unsigned RFA's next year Lowe will watch his team get stripped come next summer.

This might have been the high water mark for their ownership, it will be interesting to see what happens...

bipoilerism said...

2) "Any change is better than no change" landed us Dustin Penner for three draft picks and $9 zillion. Discuss.

Clever how you omit the word "reasonable" from your "quotation".

Anonymous said...

You're all missing the point.

CRAIG SIMPSON IS GONE!

YES!

CRAIG SIMPSON HAS LEFT THE OILERS!

He's a broadcaster now:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070807.wspttruth7/BNStory/Sports/columnists

Lord Bob said...

Clever how you omit the word "reasonable" from your "quotation".

Since we completely differ on what's reasonable, I hardly see the point in getting caught up on semantics, do you? I'm sure Kevin Lowe thought getting Penner was reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Wonder which boy on the bus will replace Craig Simpson?

Anonymous said...

Whenever they say "Its not about the money" its always about the money ...

Kelvin said...

I've heard from a well-placed source that the EIG is pressuring Lowe to slot Petr Klima in Simpson's spot.

d. said...

SIMPLETON IS GONE. I repeat, Simpleton is gone.

However, this year is still going to be brutal.

Paul said...

My answer wasn't all owners can bad GMs except when they don't, it was all new owners can their front offices, except the EIG. Find me another new ownership group that didn't overhaul within a couple of years. More importantly, find me a GM/coach/president/group that has been together for as long as the Oilers' has (and to mediocre results I might add). Eventually Ownership has to act, but until they do, they should be mostly silent on stuff. The EIG has it backwards.

PunjabiOil said...

My main beef is that after a highly successful playoff run with 12 sold out home playoff games (at what, $1M per?) how did the team respond?

1. Raised ticket prices an average of 12.4%

____

21.6% increase in ticket prices

and

The Oilers still pulled in more than $26.5-million dollars in gate revenues from 11 home playoff dates -- or more than $2.4-million per home game, before concessions and parking

http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/hockey/story.html?id=549b30cc-5abb-4a6f-ac91-1994f0bab068&k=85806&p=2

Rock Deputy said...

Even if the Oilers do tank this year, season tickets will sell out next year and fans will still flock to see them lose. Booming economy + hockey-hungry Canadian city = zero accountability from Lowe and the EIG.

Why would the EIG sell? New arena/old arena, good season/bad season, new GM/old GM... they'll make money "hand over fist" no matter what.

Rod said...

Find me another new ownership group that didn't overhaul within a couple of years.

Uh, Paul, perhaps you forgot the EIG did change the front-office a couple years in--some guy by the name of "Slats" was President/GM/anything else you could name, while Barry "Cabo" Fraser ran the "scouting".

There's plenty of reasons to be upset with the EIG the last few years, but making stuff up doesn't exactly help the campaign.

Rod said...

That the EIG tossed Katz to the curb is disappointing. How they didn't find a way to bring Katz in, considering some in the group reportedly *do* want to sell, is beyond me. Owners with two billion don't exactly grow on trees.

Back to the ones that want to sell, unfortunately the EIG "bylaws" (or whatever they're called) make it difficult to sell to any outsiders. Yesterday, on two different programs, Cal outlined the process:
- anyone can sell to anyone...but it then goes to a shareholder vote
- the seller must gain 60% approval
- failing 60% approval, the EIG buys the shares based on the "retirement value" of the team (it was recently set @ 125 million)

Follow that maze, and it means Katz can easily be blocked from getting even just a small stake in the team...with the remaining EIG members snapping up those shares at less than market value:
- some current owners do want to sell (perhaps they realize selling at a high point is a good thing)
- to use rather round numbers, let's say those owners total up to 10% of the franchise shares
- sticking with round numbers, let's say Katz agreed to pay 20 million for that 10% stake (not too far off his 185 million offer for the whole team)
- the proposed sale goes to shareholder vote (short of 60% approval, the sale is blocked)
- here's the kicker--if the proposed sale is blocked, the sellers can't keep their shares. To use Cal's own words--"the EIG is compelled" to purchase those shares at the retirement amount.
- 10% stake, based on retirement amount, is obviously 12.5 million

Ouch. You want to sell? Fine. Market price? Get serious.

Quite the money maker they've set up:
- 40% + 1 is all it takes to block sales (with the theory they should be able to determine their own partners--I understand that part)
- once they block it, they can buy the shares at less than market (why the seller is forced to sell at this point is a mystery)
- once they've bought the shares at less than market, it's even easier to reach the 40% + 1 blocking threshold

Meanwhile, sellers can't take advantage of the market price. They're easily blocked, and then forced to sell below market.

Just remember...it's all about Edmonton, not money. Practice rink for the Bears as outlined by Mr. Katz? Makes no sense to have it so far away from the new arena (so says Mr. Nichols). Well, for the Bears it would...guess that's a minor point though. If it doesn't make sense for the EIG, it doesn't make sense for Edmonton. I think I'm beginning to understand...

David S said...

I'm more than a little amazed that the SUN hasn't constructed a truly objective version of the EIG survey and run it in the past few days to find out what Edmontonians really think. Not just the strategically selected 4000 longest holders of season tickets. The follow-up article would sell a shitload of newspapers. Everybody I know is pretty much pissed this deal didn't go through.

But of course, those tentacles run pretty deep I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Cal can't spend to the cap, because then it would be obvious that the Oil don't need a new arena. 90% of the cap even though the rink is sold right out gives the impression that they're doing all they can but the little team that could just can't quite climb the hill without a new shiny arena.