SUN Hockey Pool

Masters impressed

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Daryl Katz will never be compared to Barack Obama when it comes to addressing the media.

With a monotone delivery, Katz won't make Edmonton Oilers fans come out of their seats with a passionate speech.

But the local billionaire scored rather good marks in his interview with the media yesterday afternoon.

With Katz conducting his first interview in more than a year - and his first since acquiring pledges for 100% of the Edmonton Investors Group's shares for the Oilers - Sun Media assembled a panel of communications/public relations experts to listen to Katz speak.

To be blunt, Katz was making a first impression on 35 to 40 reporters and thousands of Oilers fans.

"I thought he did a pretty good job," said Val Mellesmoen, the head of the International Association of Business Communicators for Western Canada.

"I have coached a lot of politicians and CEOs and he didn't need much coaching.

"He came across pretty sincere, a pretty straight forward guy, very business-like.

"He has got some integrity underlying in there. And he answered all of the questions he was asked - that is pretty good."

In his 40-minute session yesterday, Katz came across as a powerful business leader, but also made it very clear that he is a fan of the NHL club.

While he declined to go into details on some questions fired in his direction, the 46-year-old Edmonton native took that path because he smartly refused to speculate on some topics - like potential hockey personnel changes.

"I thought he came across well-spoken, well-mannered, well-intentioned," said Marcus Gurske, the owner of Play It By Ear Productions.

"I thought his answers were to the point. He didn't speculate. He stuck within a message box - he probably had outlines (to follow for answers to questions).

"He did a very good job. Out of a (mark) of 10, I would give him a seven and a half."

Maybe Katz's biggest selling feature was the lack of any apparent ego during the conference call.

Pegged as Canada's 13th wealthiest individual with a net worth of $2.37 billion, he didn't seem to be talking down to the fans.

"He is not egotistical because he used the word we more than he used I," continued Mellesmoen. "He didn't try to boast. He answered very straightforward."

Added Dean Heuman, the owner of Focus Communications: "He has learned you catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

As for the lack of a charismatic delivery style - like Obama has become famous for on the U.S. election trail - that is not a bad thing.

"When we do media training we ask people to stay within their comfort level," explained Gurske.

"We aren't asking them to be someone they aren't because that very quickly gets flushed out in interviews.

"They don't come across as being genuine."

FINISH LINES ...

Katz handled the conference call while outside of Edmonton yesterday, making a face-to-face media briefing impossible for TV stations. He expects to meet with the media again after the NHL approves the sale of the Oilers.


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