SUN Hockey Pool

Moreau thinks new boss would be same as old boss

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

DETROIT -- A new owner could do anything he wants - fire the entire hockey operations staff, spend the league minimum or change coaches every six months.

There is always a fear of the unknown when somebody steps in and takes control of a cherished organization like the Edmonton Oilers.

But general manager Kevin Lowe isn't expecting a major upheaval, or change in philosophy, if local billionaire Daryl Katz assumes control of the hockey team.

"What I know of Daryl, and what I've heard, his expectations would be to have the Oilers be able to compete," said Lowe, in Detroit for last night's game against the Red Wings.

"That's the biggest question: is ownership coming in wanting to pare back payroll and all that. That would be the biggest concern for the fans and players."

But Lowe is fairly certain Katz wants the same thing everyone in Edmonton wants - a winning, first class team.

"Any time I've talked to him, his seems to be a lot like Cal Nichols's vision of Edmonton, having the city proud of the team and doing all the right things for the team."

Team captain Ethan Moreau says the players have been following Katz's ownership bid since he started it several months ago.

"Everybody's interested, it's exciting for everybody," he said. "But, first and foremost, we wouldn't be having this conversation if the Edmonton Investors Group didn't do what they did 10 years ago and revive this organization. Now they've put it in a position where it draws the attention from the likes of Mr. Katz and his family.

"For us, it's a win-win. We already have a very loyal group that we get treated extremely well by. And a lot of us know the Katz family, and they're very passionate about the Oilers and Edmonton.

"I don't think there's any doubt, regardless of what direction we go in (Katz or EIG). They're both dedicated to winning and are secure enough to make sure that we're close to the cap."

Still, with an ownership group in place there was always a safeguard against rash decisions by one person. With one owner, who knows if he turns out to be like Harold Ballard.

"Based on what I know of him, he seems to be a level headed guy," said Lowe, adding hockey hasn't had many loose cannons in ownership chairs lately. "I don't think we have any George Steinbrenners in our league."

But with a single owner in charge, change can come much quicker. Changing GMs or coaches would no longer take a board meeting and exhaustive debate among shareholders. Katz, if he owned the team outright, could do it with one swipe of a pen.

"Whether he makes management changes or whatever, that's up to him," said Lowe, who just signed a four-year contract extension. "But it shouldn't affect our players one bit."

Lowe says he's proud that under the EIG watch, and his, they've grown the health of the franchise from a death-bed charity case to a money-making venture.

"We finally built it up revenue-wise that it can support itself," he said. "That's a given now for as long as we're all hockey fans."

He's also excited about the prospect of a new rink.

"That's not from my relationship with the team, or my involvement, that's just as a citizen of Edmonton. I think we need a new building downtown."


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