<
>

Oilers' new potential owner promises hands-on management

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Daryl Katz, the local pharmacy
billionaire expected to be approved as the new owner of the
Edmonton Oilers, promised Wednesday to be a hands-on executive who
will demand minimal bureaucracy and maximum accountability.

"I believe the Oilers can benefit from that philosophy.
Management will be empowered to make decisive decisions very
quickly," the 46-year-old Katz said on a conference call.

"We will not spend time with committees and meetings, and I
personally will be actively involved with senior executives on a
day-to-day basis to discuss strategic and other issues."

Katz vowed to keep the Oilers in Edmonton, adding that since
he's also trying to help finance a new arena for the NHL franchise,
it would be foolish to move the team.

"I don't think you build a new building and make this kind of a
commitment to a city with a view to moving the team. I just think
it's ridiculous speculation," he said.

The NHL still has to approve the deal, a process that could take
weeks or months, but league deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said
he expects they will OK it.

Katz declined to assess the current state of the team -- which is
mired near the bottom of the standings and in danger of missing the
playoffs for a second straight season -- or speculate on changes he
would make.

"It's way premature to talk about any kinds of personnel
decisions," Katz said. "Every GM and coach in the National Hockey
League knows there's no such thing as a job for life. At the same
time, I think Oilers management are extremely dedicated and
talented and have done very well."

On Tuesday, all 34 members of the Edmonton Investors Group that
owned the Oilers for a decade agreed to sell Katz all 7,492 of
their shares at $22,000 a share.

He has promised to put up $100 million for a new rink, build the
team a practice facility and spend the maximum allowed under the
salary cap. Katz said he'd like to see a new rink "as soon as
possible" but will wait for a pending city report that will
outline options for a new facility.

Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel applauded Katz's commitment, but
reiterated that local taxpayers won't foot the bill.

"As I've said about two, three, 400 times, we will not put any
property tax dollars or grant money into a new arena," Mandel
said. "We will be glad to find other ways."