SUN Hockey Pool

Welcomes for Katz, kudos for EIG members

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

With the Edmonton Oilers about to change hands, the players yesterday paid tribute to the ownership group that saved the franchise and expressed excitement at the prospect of a single, billionaire owner.

"I think it's great," said captain Ethan Moreau. "From what I know of (Daryl Katz) he's a real passionate Edmontonian and he's a huge hockey fan."

The players have been following the ownership saga since its beginning and are glad it's finally coming to a resolution.

"I think overall it's going to be better for everybody," said defenceman Steve Staios. "He seems like a really passionate guy for the Oilers and the organization, as the players are. And in a business sense it might be simpler to run the team with one guy in charge."

They've seen many examples, from the Robert Kraft's New England Patriots to George Steinbrenner's New York Yankees to Mike Ilitch's Detroit Red Wings, of ultra-rich owners going above and beyond to build a winner. The prospect of a similar situation here has the veterans excited.

"You've seen, not just in hockey, but in any sport, when you bring in a single owner who's passionate and has a real willingness to win, it can only help the team with its success," said Staios.

"We're really grateful for the investors group," added Moreau. "We've been treated really well. They had a great run, hockey is thriving in Edmonton because of them.

"But as a player, it's going to be exciting to have a guy of his magnitude and his wealth to come in and own the team. It's going to affect us directly, in a positive manner. It's a pretty huge day for the franchise."

Head coach Craig MacTavish believes Katz will do right by the team and the city,.

"He's going to be a good owner," said MacTavish. "He's got the community's best interests at heart. He's doing this for all the right reasons. Knowing Daryl, I think he's going to do a terrific job."

As for the EIG, everyone in the organization feels indebted to the businessmen who saved the team.

"They've been great to work with," said MacTavish. "The fact that I can only name three or four of the owners is maybe the best tribute I can give them for taking a back seat in all this.

"The logistics of having 35 or 36 would pose a problem if they didn't all swallow their ego to a certain extent.

"They should be commended. They did a great thing for the community. They came in at a pretty crucial time and did the right thing keeping the team here in Edmonton.

"Obviously it was the right decision the way the community has supported the Oilers through the 10-year period."

They turned the team from a money-loser playing to 5,000 empty seats a night to one of the strongest franchises in the NHL.

"It's been an incredible transition, really, from where it was when they took over," said MacTavish.


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