An Open Letter to Daryl Katz, Edmonton Oilers Owner

Darren ThompsonCorrespondent INovember 27, 2008

As a lifelong fan of the Edmonton Oilers, surely you must be at wit's end with the play of your new hockey team.  Many of us fans are puzzled at your silence during this typical poor start to another dash for 10th place in the conference.  Were we not promised more this year? Was this not the year that we were supposed to be challenging for first place?

Instead, your loyal fans (and a smart businessman like yourself must realize they are the ones paying the bill) are being forced to watch our beloved organization continue to struggle under the guidance of Craig MacTavish.  We have changed players, changed General Managers, even changed jerseys, and still we get the same results.

There is only one thing left to change, don't you think?

At the beginning of the season, when Garon stole three games in a row for your team, he was rewarded with a trip to the press box—and we were instantly reminded of our trio goaltending system used by MacTavish before we picked up Roloson at the trade deadline.

If you remember, MacT announced to the media after Roloson got on a roll heading into the playoffs that your goalie needs to have the confidence that he can let a goal in or two without fear of sitting on the bench for three weeks, as Garon has done in the month of November.

I'm curious as to what you would do if a general manager of one of your shiny drugstores delivered failing years four out of the last seven, with a profit margin well below expectations this year.  Would you blame the clerk at check out—or would you make a change in leadership?

How much longer will you wait?  Will this be another year of the Old Boys club failing to produce results? 

Obviously Kevin Lowe will recommend that you stick a while longer with this coaching staff and their blender line combinations.  He has stuck through nearly a decade of poor performance, and we all know that that won't change. 

Mr. Katz, you are the only one that can save this team from another frustrating season.  How many more young players are going to lose their confidence under this leadership system?  How many seasons will it take for these players to recover from the mental mind-messing MacT is so known for?

These are your assets—from Gagner to Shremp that are being damaged by a third line center who would have separated Gretzky and Kurri after a slow period.   

Maybe the reason Hossa and Jagr elected to choose another team paying them much less was that they know that playing with Poulet and Sortini in one of the many new line combinations would be just as frustrating as the rest of the Oiler players think it is. 

I am assuming that growing up in Edmonton, you played some hockey yourself.  Do you remember how important chemistry is?   It takes time for players to gel, and they, like a goalie, need to have the security that they can have a bad game (or shift) without finding themselves banished to the fourth line and then called out by the coach as to why they aren't producing.  

Do we as fans need to start talking with our wallets instead of our words?

Kevin Lowe knew that we are a loyal bunch and will support this team no matter how bad they are. Make no mistake about it, they have been bad this season. 

We were lucky to get those first four wins at the beginning the year and have only played well in three games this year—the game in Calgary, the Philly game, and the Rangers game.  We are lucky to have as many wins as we do, and you see it as much as the 16,000 fans sitting around you do—this team is lost and isn't responding to their coach. 

No other organization would put up with such poor performance, and we all assumed that when you took over, you were not going to be star-struck like the community board was and would keep MacTavish on short notice.  

Only time will tell if you have the courage to make the change that it is so blatantly obvious is needed.