SUN Hockey Pool

Oiler takeover is over

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

It took 33 minutes following the deadline to produce and issue the press release that made the historical announcement yesterday.

It was at 5:33 p.m. Daryl Katz announced he'd received letters of acceptance for 100% of the shares to complete his hostile takeover and become the sole new owner of the Edmonton Oilers.

It was no Super Bowl finish to this thing, although various news reports down to the deadline had the percentage figures at 74% at mid-afternoon, 85% an hour before deadline and 98% with one single solitary holdout only minutes before the deadline.

"I guess maybe a few were waiting to see how it unfolded," said EIG board chairman Bill Butler, saying he had no idea how it actually played out.

ONWARDS

But 100% is 100%. Onward and upward.

Over is over - and this thing is over.

"They followed the board's lead," said Butler of the board's decision to recommend to the remaining shareholders that they sell their individual shares to Katz - an announcement he made in Sunday's Sun.

"I wish the city and Katz well," said Butler. "I guess we're moving into another era for the Oilers.

"Now, it's up to Mr. Katz to complete the transaction under terms and conditions. I see no reason to believe it won't close."

While at 5:33 p.m. Katz was able to announce his victory, the reality is that he put this away when he put the price up to $188 million, pledged another $100 million for a new arena and orchestrated Cal Nichols to switch sides.

It probably would have served the community better if Butler had walked away with time on the clock. The shareholders were swayed and it was game over with popular opinion.

There's been some damage done here to the community by both sides and some polarized opinions in the media, but what's happened here is nothing of the order of what happened when Nichols put the group together to save the franchise in the first place and set it on the road to where some guy would pay $200 million to get his hands on it.

"This is a terrific level of support that will enable us to move forward with the process of securing NHL approval and concluding this transaction," said Katz in his press release. "I appreciate the board's hard work over the past few months. I respect their commitment to the community and am very pleased that they recommended my offer to all shareholders.

"Like the EIG and all Edmontonians, I want what is best for the team, the community and the city. I want to help secure a world-class building and continue the EIG's legacy by bringing the Cup back to Edmonton. I also want to strengthen the ties between the Oilers and Rexall. These are two of Canada's great brands - both Copper and Blue, and both based in Edmonton."

With that he also announced that an advisory board, including at least five former members of the Edmonton Investment Group and other community leaders would be put together to add an element of community ownership lost with the end of the era of the 34-member group.

Katz, who promised Nichols that he could remain governor by switching sides, will likely choose from the larger shareholders such as Bruce Saville, who made their decisions to sell him the shares early.

"I see the power of having community representation as part of the team's ownership model," Katz said in the release.

"Having an advisory board lets us capture the best of both worlds. It brings together the vision of an entrepreneurial owner with active and ongoing counsel from a board of community leaders."

While it's expected to take at least four months before Katz will get the deal completely done, including NHL approval, at least we won't have to wait until then to hear actual words out of his mouth.

OFFER A CHANCE

At noon today, Katz will be available to offer Edmonton a chance take something of the measure of the man as a new owner beyond his bank balance.

While it's a conference call with the media and not a chance for fans to see and read his expressions and look into his eyes, at least it will go beyond carefully-worded press release communication and leaked information.

Katz, as of now, is holding this team in trust for the community. And winning the trust of the community is what it's all about now.


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