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Daryl Katz Needs To Bring Excitement Back To The Oilers
By Jeremy Thompson
HometownHockey.ca


Daryl Katz Needs To Bring Excitement Back To The Oilers
With the potential to be equipped with a new face of the franchise, a new capable head coach, a new management team, and a new home, comes the prospect of a new and rejuvenated fanbase. Opportunity is knocking for the Oilers in a way that teams rarely receive, and with the state of the franchise where it is today, Daryl Katz can’t afford to answer the door.
PHOTO CREDIT - Edmonton Journal

Edmonton - March 3, 2015 - Daryl Katz can afford almost anything compared to you and me. He has a boatload of money and a drug store chain as well as an NHL team to show for it. As the owner of the Edmonton Oilers, Daryl Katz possesses a great investment opportunity, however traditionally investments are designed to make as much money as possible. For Katz to realize that potential, change will need to be made in the immediate future in regards to his largest investment.

The Edmonton Oilers are in a spot that they have never been in before. They have had the fortune of growing with a fanbase that can always look back on the memories of the Gretzky- glory days fondly and see the promise of a return to that mountain.

Right now however, the Edmonton Oilers fanbase is evolving. With the help of social media, bloggers and an instant-access-universe, fans can interact with each other all around the world in a second’s time. These are just some of the many factors contributing to the pending extinction of a 1980s-style following but the most significant is simply time.

I was born in 1991; 1 year after the Oilers won their last Stanley Cup. I have never seen the glory days outside of a documentary or newspaper clipping. I see those Cups that the team walks past every game, and the only thing that it represents to me is success that I long for, not success that I remember.

There are obviously many fans that remember the 80s fondly, and without a doubt use the internet as much as any 23 year old living in today’s society. These fans see those Cups as a reminder as well as anticipation, but how much longer is the latter an acceptable stance when the last 10 years of sub-mediocrity have tarnished the silver on those once great symbols of fortune?

Here’s the reality: As fans, there is nothing to look forward to anymore. There hasn’t been anything to look forward to since 2010. There is no excitement. The Oilers announced that the team would be going through a rebuild in 2010 and all it took was finishing last place and securing Taylor Hall to change the forecast from grey and cloudy to sunshine and rainbows.

That excitement was replicated in 2011 with the drafting of Ryan Nugent Hopkins, and the excitement continued in 2012 with Yakupov and the signing of League-wide eye candy, Justin Shcultz. Not even a lockout that took away half of a season could eliminate the excitement for the future that flowed through Edmonton and around Edmonton in the league-wide perspective.

At the beginning of the 2012 season, Sports Illustrated had the Oilers finishing 2nd in the Western conference. Even though that didn’t happen, the season would be filled with a lot of excitement throughout, culminating on the eve of April 26th when Nail Yakupov scored a hat trick and the Oilers beat the Vancouver Canucks 8-2 in the season finale.

Even though there were no shiny new players to highlight on the ice for the 2013-2014 season, the Oilers new-look coaching staff and General manager was enough to keep the excitement flowing. Struggles early in the season were written off once again in favour of the promise of tomorrow, and the wishful thinking of Oilers fans continued to resonate into 2014, but all of a sudden, it was quickly dissipating.

With the drafting of Leon Draisaitl, the excitement sparked by draft picks just wasn’t the same. Leon wasn’t a Nugent-Hopkins or a Taylor-Hall to begin with, but that overall feeling was missing. It was an amplified absence when Draisaitl was forced into the fires of the NHL long before he was prepared for it, and eventually sent back from whence he came, at least for the present time.

It all came full circle, when Craig MacTavish who was already drawing the ire of many for some questionable decisions early in his tenure fired the head coach which had once supplied a large amount of excitement, but more recently despair.

On this day, things are better in some ways, worse in others, but one thing that is notably missing. There is no more excitement. There is no more hope, no more promise.

The Oilers are in a position to draft another generational player this year, and It won’t make a difference to the fans. Not anymore. Sure there will be an overall sense of misdirected pride and maybe even a temporary excitement in securing the next “best player in the world” if the Oilers were to somehow land the number 1 pick, but none of that extends past the present.

Oilers fans have become wise to reality and with it, the common sentiment that “history always repeats itself.” The fanbase now has knowledge of what happens when excitement is misplaced and no longer will they be pacified into a sense of security by the arrival of a single player.

Those days are long gone, and the responsibility of Daryl Katz to build a new foundation for an excited fanbase comes with an expiration date. The Oilers will open the season in 2016-2017 in a state of the art facility in the heart of Downtown Edmonton. The team that has made the City Of Champions rotate on its axis all these years will take their stead in the center of it all.

Daryl Katz cannot afford for excitement to be absent from that evening. He can’t afford to dress an AHL team in the center of Rogers Place, and he can’t afford to adorn the pressbox with a management team that finds anything over the last 8 years to be acceptable in any way.

A change needs to be made. Bob Nicholson needs to come down from his ivory tower and do what he was ultimately brought in to do which is execute order 66 all through the halls of the Northlands coliseum while the walls are still standing.

The league-wide perspective of the Edmonton Oilers, the perspective of the fans, the feeling of season ticket holders who will be faced with a dilemma when they are asked to pay more for seats in the new barn; all of it has to change.

With the potential to be equipped with a new face of the franchise, a new capable head coach, a new management team, and a new home, comes the prospect of a new and rejuvenated fanbase. Opportunity is knocking for the Oilers in a way that teams rarely receive, and with the state of the franchise where it is today, Daryl Katz can’t afford to answer the door.

The longer the fanbase is told that valuing Nikita Nikitin over Justin Shcultz, and viewing a core of small untouchable forwards as the secret to winning the Stanley Cup, the longer it will take to win them back when they finally give up on excitement in general. This isn’t something that can be done next season; this is something that needed to be done 6 months ago. Once that resolve is established, then and only then, will excitement seeds be planted back in the heart of the Oilers following.

Follow Me on TwitterJeremy Thompson was born on the mean streets of Sundre, Alberta. Currently soaking up the UV rays in Jacksonville, Florida. Just a man who loves his wife, his dogs, and his Oilers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at jthompson@hometownhockey.ca


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Title - Top Ten Scorers
# PLAYER GP PTS PPG
97 McDavid, Connor 74871.18
29 Draisaitl, Leon 74690.93
14 Eberle, Jordan 74450.61
27 Lucic, Milan 74430.58
19 Maroon, Patrick 74390.53
93 Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan 74360.49
55 Letestu, Mark 71330.46
Sekera, Andrej 72330.46
77 Klefbom, Oscar 74300.41
44 Kassian, Zack 71220.31
HH Stat Database Last Updated:
Mar. 24, 2017 @ 5:00 PM EDT

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