Let's be clear: Oilers not going anywhere

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
6:00
PM ET
The headline on ESPN.com’s main page Tuesday morning was "Clueless in Seattle."

I wasn’t sure if the story was about the controversial ending to Monday night’s football game or Daryl Katz’s transparent trip to Seattle.

Let’s be clear here, there’s almost zero chance Katz can move the Oilers out of Edmonton. The NHL’s Board of Governors would never vote in favor of that given what the City of Edmonton is willing to put in for a new downtown arena. The board, I believe, would simply never see any merit in any reason for a move.

This is all about Katz gaining some leverage in his dealings with the City of Edmonton, wanting to get a better deal for himself with the new rink.

Hey, he’s not the first owner to ever do it. But let’s make sure we all understand what’s happening here: The Oilers aren’t going anywhere.

Yes, Seattle has approved plans to build a new NBA/NHL rink and, yes, the NHL loves the prospect of having a team in the Pacific Northwest one day.

But believe me, it won’t be the Oilers.

As an aside, many also noticed Wayne Gretzky’s presence in Seattle on Monday night. He’s obviously great friends with former teammate Kevin Lowe (Oilers president) and he’s become friends with Katz, as well, in recent years. But the Great One’s appearance with Oilers brass at the Seahawks game should not be misconstrued as him trying to help Katz in any way move the Oilers.

"I'm 100 percent not involved with the Oilers or the NHL," Gretzky told ESPN.com via email Tuesday. "I went to watch a game and went home right after. I'm very confident that the Katz group and the city of Edmonton will get a deal done that would keep the Oilers in Edmonton where they belong."

GMs Meeting

Eight years ago, the silver lining of a season-long lockout was that the sport’s caretakers took advantage of the downtime to rethink the game.

What resulted coming out of the 2004-05 lockout was a massive makeover -- a response to the dead-puck era -- which featured among other things the advent of the shootout, the removal of the center red line for two-line passes, a crackdown on obstruction, the trapezoid limiting goalies’ play of the puck, etc.

The game doesn’t need fixing like it did eight years ago, but the current lockout does once again allow the game’s caretakers to put their thinking hats on when it comes to the on-ice product.

The NHL’s 30 GMs usually meet around Hockey Hall of Fame's induction weekend in Toronto every November, although a source told ESPN.com Tuesday that it’s possible the meeting could be moved up this year. Nothing was decided as of Tuesday, either way.

But when the 30 GMs do meet, they’ll be taking another long look at the state of the game, in part feeding off the August NHL meeting, which featured five GMs, five coaches, six players and four on-ice officials joining league hockey operations personnel in debating whether or not the "standard" of officiating had slipped last season. The focus was on interference and embellishment and what to do about it.

I would expect the next GMs meeting to be even more wide-ranging than that, really a good honest look at where the on-ice product sits right now. Perhaps the lockout will be over by the time the 30 GMs meet (wishful thinking), but if it isn’t, one of the benefits of the GMs getting together during a work stoppage is that they aren’t under the pressure of wins and losses, their vision isn’t clouded by the competitive juices in their veins. They can take a calm look at the game.

Remember, for example, last November's GMs meeting was hijacked by the Milan Lucic/Ryan Miller run-in. That’s a great example of how GM meetings are often overtaken by recent events.

This time around, the GMs can coolly sit back and examine the issues at hand.

Don’t expect a makeover like in 2004-05, but a recommended rule change or two isn’t out of the question.

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