SBD/April 18, 2013/Franchises

Oilers' Lowe Apologizes For Comment Regarding Team's Fanbase

Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe in an 80-second video released yesterday said that he is "sorry for suggesting there are two types of Oiler fans: those who buy tickets and those who don’t," according to the CP. Lowe: "We see many of our fans at Rexall Place, but we have hundreds of thousands of fans that never get to Rexall Place. We appreciate each and every fan. I did not make that clear." Lowe "got into hot water with fans Monday for comments he made at a news conference to announce the firing of Steve Tambellini as general manager." The Oilers currently sit 12th in the NHL's Western Conference standings, which led to "pointed questions from reporters Monday on why the Oilers were bringing back the same group of people who have failed in the past." Lowe "fired back that the Oilers know to whom they answer." He said, "We have two types of fans: we have paying customers and we have people that watch the game that we still care about." Some "interpreted the remarks as crass cash-conscious elitism while others suggested it was a clumsy way to differentiate between fans the Oilers can talk to one on one, because they’re in the building, and those they can’t." Lowe: "I must admit my emotions ran a little high" (CP, 4/17).

LOWE'S STANDARD: In Edmonton, John MacKinnon writes many fans "define a change in leadership to be new faces, perhaps younger hockey people, different voices and ideas, a fresh vision." MacKinnon writes, "Part of the package with Oilers Owner Daryl Katz is he wants to win the Stanley Cup" with Lowe and new GM Craig MacTavish, his "colleagues and, more important, his friends." Oilers fans are "long-suffering" and have "had to be patient, in the extreme, suffering through seven straight non-playoff seasons that have been all the more painful after that run to Game 7 of the ’06 finals." And Lowe "rubs salt in their wounds by saying there are two types of fans?" There was "no question he had to apologize for that, and good on him for doing so" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 4/18). In Edmonton, Terry Jones writes Oilers fans, a "significant percentage of them, want somebody to be punished for seven years out of the playoffs and Lowe’s been the boss throughout." The bottom line is Lowe, MacTavish and Senior VP/Hockey Operations Scott Howson will "all have to go if they don’t get the Oilers playing deep into the playoffs sooner than later." Jones: "But put me down as a columnist who believes they’ll succeed and all the fans will live happily ever after" (EDMONTON SUN, 4/18).
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