In today’s roundup of notable Canadian NHL team news: A call for both sides to be reasonable in Edmonton arena deal, some players were flattered to be compared to “cattle”, Mikhail Grabovski heads to KHL, and Jim Slater settles down in Winnipeg.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples offers up an even-handed analysis of the dispute between Oilers owner Daryl Katz and the Edmonton city council over funding for a new downtown arena. Staples dismissed Katz’s implied threat of relocating the club to Seattle, but considers the threat a slap in the face of loyal Oilers fans. Still, he suggests a deal can be had if both sides are willing to be reasonable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: What bothers me about what Katz is doing is the fact the guy’s a billionaire, one of the richest men in Canada (net worth: over $2 billion, according to Forbes.com), and despite the fact the city has agreed to kick in $200 million to build a new arena, he’s squeezing the city for more by threatening relocation. Katz could afford the original deal, which would’ve been very lucrative for him once the Oilers started playing there. His excuses for why he needs more doesn’t bear up under scrutiny, as Staples and others have duly noted. All he’s succeeded in doing is pissing off one of the most devoted fan bases in the NHL.
If Seattle isn’t a viable option (and it isn’t), where’s he going to relocate to? Kansas City? He’d still get less revenue there than he would if he stayed in Edmonton. Hamilton? Not if the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres have anything to say about it. Quebec City? Only if he sells the team outright to Quebecor’s Pierre-Karl Peladeau, who wants an NHL team of his own there, which would defeat the purpose of why he bought the club in the first place.
While the league has also hinted at relocation if there’s no new arena deal in place when the Oilers lease at Rexall Place expires in 2014, I find that threat hollow when one considers Edmonton has been consistently among the league’s top money-making franchises since the last lockout, and one of the reasons league revenue has risen as much as it did during the period of the just-expired CBA. It’s the height of insanity to leave such a strong market for a lesser one, all because a billionaire owner tried to get greedy. Sorry, I’m not buying what Katz is trying to peddle.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, part of the NHLPA’s 31-player negotiating committee, suggests Jimmy Devellano’s comments referring to the players as “cattle” pales in comparison to Devellano’s remarks about an unwritten rule among teams about tendering offer sheets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That comment suggests collusion among the owners, but given the Philadelphia Flyers failed attempt to sign Shea Weber this summer, one almost impossible to prove.
CALGARY HERALD: Jarome Iginla and Braydon Coburn didn’t appreciate Devellano referring to the players as “cattle”.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Jason Spezza declined to comment on Devellano’s remarks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nobody likes to be compared to a farm animal….unless your strength is akin to a bull’s, or you’re a guy whose penis is favorably compared to a horse’s, then it’s ok…;)
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski has joined the exodus of locked-out NHL’ers heading to the KHL, signing with CSKA Moscow.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Despite the lockout, Jets forward Jim Slater is settling comfortably in Winnipeg.