Oil drop timeline
1971 — The Alberta Oilers were born, one of the original franchises in the rogue World Hockey Association, a rival to the National Hockey League created by California promoters Dennis Murphy and Gary Davidson. The two promoters recruit Edmonton’s Bill Hunter to help find investors for potential franchises, and to help usher in a team in Edmonton. Dr. Charles Allard, Zane Feldman and Hunter become the initial owners of the Oilers.
1976 — After four financially troubled seasons, the original owners sell the WHA team, now called the Edmonton Oilers, to Vancouver real estate tycoon Nelson Skalbania. Skalbania brings in Edmonton entrepreneurial golden boy Peter Pocklington as an equal partner.
1977— Skalbania buys 51 per cent of another WHA team, the Indianapolis Racers for $1 while retaining his halfshare in the Oilers. Skalbania eventually sells his Oilers share to Pocklington, who becomes the sole owner. Then, in November of 1978, Skalbania makes his most infamous of moves, unloading a young player by the name of Wayne Gretzky to the Oilers, along with two other Indianapolis Racers, to Pocklington’s Oilers for $825,000.
1979 — The WHA folds and the Oilers, with Pocklington as the sole owner, become a new member of an expanded NHL. Within five years, the franchise would become Stanley Cup champions.
1984-85 — As Alberta’s oil economy crumbles and some of Pocklington business enterprises run into trouble, the Oilers owner sets the stage for future Oilers problems by using his 21-year personal services contract with Gretzky as collateral on a bank loan “for no more than $20 million” with Alberta Treasury Branches.
1994-95 — After hinting he may have to move the team to Hamilton or Minneapolis, Pocklington strikes a new deal to take control of the Coliseum (now Rexall Place) in exchange for a $2.8-million annual payment to Edmonton Northlands.
1997 — Pocklington announces that the Oilers are for sale for $85 million US. A year-long drama unfolds as it appears the team is destined to be moved, then Alberta Treasury Branches basically takes over the team as part payment of Pocklington’s debts. Finally, a group of local investors steps forward to make an offer for the team in the spring of 1998. The deal is closed in May and the Edmonton Investors Group Limited Partnership, chaired by Jim Hole, becomes the new owners of Oilers. The group starts off with 35 partners, would eventually grow to 38 and then shrink back down to 34 over the next decade.
March 2007 — Drugstore billionaire Daryl Katz offers to buy the Oilers for $145 million. That offer is rejected by the EIG, as are two subsequent offers.
August 2007 — EIG board chair Cal Nichols holds a news conference steadfastly saying the team is not for sale.
Dec. 13, 2007 — After Katz’s fourth offer to purchase the team, now at $188 million, Nichols does an about-face, saying “it’s probably time to pass the torch. ...” Katz’s offer is sweetened to $200 million in January 2008 and investors were given until Feb. 5 to make a decision whether or not to sell.
Former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington with his star player, Wayne Gretzky