Fans split on Oilers eatery squabble

CLARA HO, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Oilers fans have mixed reactions about a New Year's Eve bill dispute between their home team and an upscale Calgary eatery, some siding with the players and others with the restaurant.

Fans were all atwitter on online forums, Facebook and comment boards yesterday after general manager Maurizio Terrigno of the Osteria de Medici restaurant in Calgary alleged members of the Oilers didn't pay the full amount of their bill after a New Year's Eve dinner.

Terrigno said Friday that the Oilers players and staff owed $16,796.39 but paid only about $12,381.45.

However, spokesman Allan Watt said the Oilers felt the bill was "outrageous" as they had a prearranged meal and menu, and inquired about it with the staff who ended up adjusting the total by $7,000.

Diehard Oilers fan Steve Peddle, 42, said he was disappointed with the Oilers in this situation, adding they should have just paid the bill and left.

"These are million-dollar hockey players who can easily afford a bill of that nature. Just pay the thing and move on. Don't go back to the restaurant if you don't want to, and tell your rich friends not to go," said Peddle, who has been enduring heckling text messages from friends in Calgary since the news broke.

"It doesn't look good for the Oilers, and it doesn't look good for the fans."

But fellow fan Jody Zalapski, 27, said the restaurant went to the media with this incident as a publicity grab.

"I think the restaurant is using the media to try and get a favourable public opinion and to turn the general public against the Oilers," said the cellular phone sales associate.

The whole situation is a "non-issue" and has been blown out of proportion and sensationalized, Zalapski said, adding he wished the restaurant didn't "air their dirty laundry out in public."

Nick Marando, 45, said the restaurant might have been trying to charge the players extra in the first place since they were able to drop the final tab by several thousand dollars.

"I'm sure if the restaurant reduced the price that much, they were trying to hose them."

Hockey fans on the online discussion board HFBoards also sounded off, with one fan under user name hemsky8371 expressing disappointment with the Oilers and another fan under user name surshot blaming the restaurant for "jacking up the prices" on the team.

While Coun. Tony Caterina declined to comment directly on the incident, he said he expects local public figures --athletes and city councillors included -- to conduct themselves in a professional manner when representing their city.

"I'm sure the two sides will work it out at some point with whatever agreement they have," he said.

Terrigno said yesterday he had come to an agreement with the Oilers, but declined to offer any details. Watt also declined to offer details and refused to comment further on the incident.

CLARA.HO@SUNMEDIA.CA


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