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Edmonton arena blackout beaters

Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel speaks with the media before entering NHL headquarters to talk with...

Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel speaks with the media before entering NHL headquarters to talk with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2011. (TERRY JONES/QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:40 AM ET

NEW YORK - Only minutes before Gary Bettman issued the media blackout to Daryl Katz and Mayor Stephen Mandel, the Oilers’ owner decided he had something to say.

“We are here to get it done,” Katz told QMI Agency before Wednesday’s crucial meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who is playing the role of facilitator to get the Edmonton downtown arena project back on the rails in time to get the deal done by Katz’s Oct. 31 deadline.

“We commend everyone involved in their willingness to meet, particularly the mayor and Gary Bettman,” said Katz.

“We have some significant issues to resolve. We’re confident where there’s a will, there’s a way.

“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to come away with an agreement which will enable us all to move forward. We have to get this deal right for the city of Edmonton and ourselves.

“We feel this is about seizing the opportunity to transform our city and lock the Oilers into longtime sustainability in Edmonton.”

A lot of on-the-record-words there, for Daryl Katz.

But maybe Bettman’s lack of words spoke the loudest.

About 35 minutes into Mandel’s meeting with Bettman here Tuesday afternoon, word came down from his 45th-floor offices at NHL headquarters.

The mayor sent word down to the street where a gathering of media members were waiting for the City of Edmonton contingent to emerge from the meeting.

“Gary Bettman has asked for a media blackout until the meetings Wednesday are complete,” the reporters were told by a media relations rep of the Avenue of Americas, not far from Radio City Music Hall where they stood.

The mayor took just over an hour to present background to Bettman, to bring him up to speed on the City of Edmonton side of proceedings.

But to call for a media blackout suggests that this isn’t another stage of the proceedings here but, quite likely, the final showdown.

GET 'ER DONE

If you know Bettman, who seldom commands people to come to his office, this has almost certainly become the time and place he intends to finally get it over and done one way or the other.

If you read between the lines, and indeed the actual words of both Mandel and Katz going into the meeting Wednesday, some form of compromise seems to be in the air.

Mandel, in an interview Monday, made some surprisingly strong statements.

“I wouldn’t be taking this trip if my expectations weren’t optimistic.

“Most people want to see this deal get done,” he said of the $450-million proposed downtown arena and entertainment district, which would totally transform the city.

“Not all. Some don’t. But I know without a doubt that if we get it done and look back five years from now and 10 years from now, nobody will be saying a negative word. And I know if we don’t get it done, and five and 10 years from now we don’t have a hockey team and we don’t have any improvements to our downtown and we look back, there will be a lot of people wondering how we could have done that to our city.

“I think everybody involved, including Daryl Katz and Gary Bettman, want the team to be successful and stay in Edmonton.”

That certainly sent a message that Mandel was coming here to get the framework to get a deal by the deadline.

While there’s still the missing $100 million from the province, that doesn’t seem to be what the parties are here to deal with so much as the city not getting off the pot and dealing with Northlands on the non-compete clause.

This is High Noon in a lot of directions when it comes to the future of the Oilers, but it will likely be long before noon Wednesday that the Northlands issue is put on the table to get dealt with.

There were indications that Katz might be bringing a compromise solution to the table which would allow the non-compete clause to be removed in exchange for the city restructuring another part of the deal.

By the time it was time to check that out, however, Bettman’s media blackout had kicked in.


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