SBD/January 21, 2014/Franchises

Oilers Owner Pens Letter To Team's Frustrated Fans As Long Rebuild Continues

Oilers fans haven't seen their team in the playoffs since the '05-06 season
Oilers Owner Daryl Katz yesterday in a letter posted on the team's website "acknowledged fans' frustration" over the team's "dismal season, and said everyone in the organization -- himself included -- is accountable," according to Kevin Maimann of the EDMONTON SUN. Katz "asked fans to 'hang in there' while the team fights through tough times and said he appreciates that people have been 'incredibly patient and supportive.'" Katz also defended President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe, who has "faced heavy criticism from longtime fans." Katz "seemed to place the brunt of responsibility for the team's performance on the shoulders" of GM Craig MacTavish, "while at the same time insinuating" MacTavish will maintain his role. The Oilers are "poised to miss the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year." Katz noted that other teams "have taken longer to rebuild, and the Oilers won't sacrifice future success by making 'short-term' moves." He wrote, "The good news, if you can call it that, is that other teams that committed to fundamental rebuilds went through the same kind of droughts over the same kind of time frames, or longer. That doesn't make it fun for anyone; it just means we have to stay the course" (EDMONTON SUN, 1/21).

HEY, J-J-JADED: In Edmonton, John MacKinnon writes the Oilers' "increasingly jaded fan base has tired of empty promises," and Katz's "'right track' looks like a rut, if not a trench to many of them." Katz' message "provides no comfort to fans whose patience has been abused for years." MacKinnon: "At worst, it dumps more salt on their emotional wounds" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/21). Also in Edmonton, David Staples wrote Katz' letter is "the same old, same old 'right track' stuff, even as the losing" of the Oilers is "starting to reach historic proportions" (EDMONTONJOURNAL.com, 1/20). CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits wrote of the team taking a step back, "When you've been waiting this long as a franchise to see things turned around, that's going to be frustrating," and it can be "harder to swallow the idea that Katz is spouting that the Oilers are on the right path." It "seems like the pieces are coming together but the results aren't showing that." The fans do not "have much option but they're just going to have to grin and bear it as the Oilers stick the course and go through the painful process of the ongoing rebuild" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/20).
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