The Hockey News - Money & Power




FOR AS LONG as the Flames have been in Calgary, the club’s ownership has been a group effort.

In all that time, the members of the consortium have never pushed to be the face of the franchise – rarely stepping into the media spotlight, other than when the team was in serious trouble in the early 2000s. Even though the late Harley Hotchkiss was the NHL’s chairman of the board for a dozen years, including the lost lockout season of 2004-05, he almost never did interviews, although was happy to chat with media members in the dressing room after his team won games.

With Murray Edwards, that hasn’t changed – he stays in the shadows. The self-made billionair­e is worth an estimated $1.5 billion. He is the chairman of the Flames’ ownership group, but he’s rarely in the public eye.

The same goes for the others currently holding the club’s stewardshi­p: Alvin Libin, Allan Markin, Jeffrey McCaig and the family of the late Clay Riddell, who died in September. The Flames’ ownership group, Calgary Sports and Entertainm­ent, also owns the Stockton Heat, their AHL team, the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and the National Lacrosse League’s Calgary Roughnecks.

These days, Edwards is seen even less around the Scotiabank Saddledome, as he spends much of his time living in London, England. That’s not to say he doesn’t know what’s going on with the team, even from afar.

Edwards and the rest of the ownership group may not be as hands-on as you find with other franchises, but rest assured he is well aware of everything that’s happening with the team and around the league.

Edwards was a big part of the league’s committee during the last CBA negotiatio­ns, often spotted walking alongside commission­er Gary Bettman, deputy commission­er Bill Daly and counsel Bob Batterman after sessions.

And it’s understand­able why he’s earned his way into such a role. It’s through his dealbroker­ing skills that Edwards has become one of Canada’s wealthiest people.

After he graduated with great distinctio­n from the University of Saskatchew­an with a commerce degree, he graduated with honors from the University of Toronto with a law degree and immediatel­y moved to Calgary to practice law. Edwards made partner within four years.

At 28, he turned his attention to business, prompted by a conversati­on he had with a dying friend in which Edwards promised the friend he would follow his passions. His first foray into the oil and gas business was a bust, as the group he was part of lost half of their investment due to a dry well, but, as he showed during his university days, he’s a quick learner. Edwards turned his attention from exploratio­n to investing in existing oil and gas projects.

Six years later, he bought 15 percent of the Flames and he’s now involved in a wide-ranging portfolio of companies. Edwards is owner and chairman of Edco Financial Holdings Ltd., but that is just the beginning. He is director and chairman of many companies, including Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Magellan Aerospace, Ensign Energy Services and Imperial Metals. He’s also the owner of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, the largest private ski resort owner-operator in Canada, which owns four ski resorts in western Canada and two in Quebec, as well as a number of hotels, backcountr­y lodges and golf courses.

A member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2013, Edwards is following the lead of so many other Flames owners in the philanthro­pic area. The business school at his alma mater in Saskatchew­an is called the Edwards School of Business, partly in recognitio­n of the $11-million donation he made in 2007, on top of other gifts over the years.

He has also made sizeable donations to the University of Calgary, University of Manitoba, the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. – RANDY SPORTAK

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