Oil drop time­line

Edmonton Journal - - SPORTS -

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.

THE JOUR­NAL, FILE

For­mer Oil­ers owner Peter Pock­ling­ton with his star player, Wayne Gret­zky

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