We Shall See

Mel ToliaoCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2008

A boy is given a horse on his 14th birthday. Everyone in the village says, “Oh how wonderful.” But a Zen master who lives in the village says, “we shall see.” The boy falls off the horse and breaks his foot. Everyone in the village says, “Oh how awful.” The Zen master says, “We shall see.” The village is thrown into war and all the young men have to go to war. But, because of the broken foot, the boy stays behind. Everyone says, “Oh, how wonderful.” The Zen master says, “We shall see.”  - Gust Avrakatos in Charlie Wilson's War

Darryl Katz was formally introduced as the owner of the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.  I've been an advocate of his from just about the beginning, when he started his courtship of the Oilers.  I see group ownership or ownership by a corporation more about profit (see the Leafs), where as one owner with money coming from other businesses will care more about winning (see Mike Ilitch and the Red Wings).  Katz has been selling himself as the perfect owner of this team for the past year or so, being from Edmonton, spending much of his life in Edmonton, getting his degree at the U of A.  Heck he even had seats behind the bench for Game seven against the Flyers in '87.  He's putting $100 million of his own hard earned dollars into a new arena nd practice facility at the U of A.  He's even promised to spend to the cap (even though we all know that the new NHL is about spending money wisely and not just spending money).  Seems like the perfect situation from the outsides.

Of course, this perfectly juxtaposes the news the came out on Wednesday morning about the Seattle Supersonics.  Clay Bennett was finally successful in moving the Sonics to Oklahoma City.  To borrow some sentiments form Kevin Jackson's article on ESPN, the team was not moved because it hadn't been successful in the city.  It wasn't moved because the fans in Seattle didn't care and it wasn't moved because the team refused to pony up half a billion dollars for a new arena.  It's quite evident that the reason they are leaving is because Clay Bennett, of Oklahoma City, had no intention of keeping the team in Seattle.  A lot of the blame has to go to Howard Schultz, for selling this team to Clay Bennett from Oklahoma City and not understanding or seeing that he would try to move the team.  If you didn't know, Howard Schultz is the Seattle guy that owns Starbucks and when he bought the team for $200 million in 2001 he said all the right things too.  Of course, he sold the team for $350 million so I guess everyone has their price.

I still believe that Katz is a good option as the Oilers owner.  I don't believe he would sell to anyone who paid him enough money and if he did choose to sell, he would choose someone or a group that was equally committed to Edmonton as he is.  Of course, it's a lot harder to move a team if you have to get the approval of 35 other guys.  This should be the start of a wonderful era for the Edmonton Oilers, but we shall see.