Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, along with Patrick LaForge, Kevin Lowe and other top members of the Edmonton Oilers' front office, were in Seattle on Monday to attend the Seahawks vs. Packers Monday Night Football showdown, but more importantly for Oilers fans and for Canadians, the committee was there to tour Key Arena as a potential new home for the Oilers until the recently approved $490-million US arena project is complete.
There are two trains of thought out now regarding this situation. The first is that this is just a pressure tactic, similar to the one utilized by Mario Lemieux when negotiations regarding Pittsburgh's new arena were stalled.
Lemieux went to Kansas City to view an arena. He mentioned Las Vegas as a potential relocation destination, but ultimately Lemieux got his money from the government and the Consol Energy Center was built.
The second train of thought is that this indeed could be the death knell of the Edmonton Oilers franchise.
Since Katz came out and said that additional funding would be required to complete the deal, there is doubt for the first time that the deal would get completed at all.
Not to mention the fact that there is still roughly $100 million in funding still needed from either the government or subsidies. It seems as if the gap between the two sides is ever-mounting and that the Oilers and the city of Edmonton are suffering because of it.
Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel has set an October 17 deadline for the Katz group to provide a detailed report as to why additional funding is necessary moving forward. As it stands, the city is content to stick to the original deal both parties agreed upon last October.
When Peter Pocklington first threatened to sell or move the team in the 80s, it was a clause drawn up in the contract between the Oilers and the then Northlands Coliseum that ensured the sale of the Oilers first be offered to a local buyer.
This time around, there is no such clause helping to ensure the team stays in the "City of Champions."
It's unlikely that if the Oilers were indeed to relocate to Seattle, that Katz would sell the team, but what is known for sure is that the Emerald City will be getting a state-of-the-art arena, and the pressure is indeed on in Edmonton to try to salvage the once-promising downtown arena project.
Whether or not this was just a posturing tactic used by Katz and company to force the City of Edmonton's hand is yet to be seen, as is the negative backlash that a move like this could cause.
Pocklington alienated himself from the City of Edmonton and from Oilers fans—Katz had better tread lightly, because he is in danger of doing the same thing.
It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let's hope this isn't the case here.