Who is Daryl Katz?

He’s got the most pop­u­lar game in town, but the bil­lion­aire Oil­ers owner shuns at­ten­tion at all costs.

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Rick Mccon­nell, John Mackin­non and Gary Lamphier

On a sum­mer day in 2008, his trade­mark brown curls brush­ing the col­lar of a tai­lored suit jacket, Daryl Katz stood be­fore a mi­cro­phone in an ag­ing hockey arena named for his drug­store em­pire and ut­tered his first pub­lic words as owner of the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers.

“Well, thank you, ev­ery­body, and good morn­ing,” he said, his smile tight and slightly strained. “So, we fi­nally meet face to face. I’m sure some of you thought that would never hap­pen.”

With those words, the elu­sive bil­lion­aire who had just paid $200 mil­lion to buy the hockey team he had idol­ized as a boy of­fered a rare glimpse be­hind the cur­tain of ret­i­cence he keeps care­fully drawn be­tween him­self and the pub­lic.

Glimpses like that, peo­ple would come to learn, were about all they could ex­pect to see of the man whose wealth and po­si­tion have thrust him into the very spot­light he to tries so dili­gently to avoid.

Ed­mon­ton is a quiet and far from boast­ful city. It is, per­haps, fit­ting then that what may be its largest home, perched above its sig­na­ture river val­ley, should be owned by a quiet and far from boast­ful bil­lion­aire who is rarely seen or heard in pub­lic.

For the past two years, while the Katz Group and the city have by turns pri­vately ne­go­ti­ated and pub­licly clashed over a pro­posed $475-mil­lion down­town arena to host Ed­mon­ton’s beloved hockey fran­chise, the team owner has been vil­i­fied in some cir­cles, li­on­ized in oth­ers, seen by few, heard only oc­ca­sion­ally, and truly un­der­stood, it is imag­ined, only by the friends, em­ploy­ees and busi­ness as­so­ci­ates who help to jeal­ously guard his pri­vacy. Those in his tight-knit in­ner cir­cle say Katz is a loyal friend who val­ues loy­alty in oth­ers, and what peo­ple see, or rather what they don’t see, is just Katz be­ing him­self.

“I re­mem­ber when he was giv­ing his very first press con­fer­ence, and his only press con­fer­ence, for that mat­ter,” says Lyle Best, pres­i­dent and CEO of Quik­card and a former board mem­ber of the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion. “I was by the dress­ing room door. He was gath­ered there with his par­ents and his kids. He was very un­com­fort­able. He was pac­ing, and made it pretty clear to any­body who was go­ing to lis­ten that this was a one-off. That’s just not his com­fort zone.

“When you think about it, here was a guy who was buy­ing the most pub­lic as­set in Ed­mon­ton and he wanted to make it the most non-pub­lic thing he could do. He was pushed into it (the news con­fer­ence) or over­rid­den by some of the hockey guys, that it was im­por­tant that he do this.”

The Ir­ish play­wright Os­car Wilde once fa­mously quipped: “The only thing worse the be­ing talked about, is not be­ing talked about.”

Daryl Katz would likely not agree.

At that first news con­fer­ence as Oil­ers owner, Katz told a story that per­haps sums up just how un­ac­cus­tomed he is when deal­ing with the me­dia, and by ex­ten­sion, the pub­lic.

“I un­der­stand now that you all re­fer to this as a presser,” Katz said, us­ing the me­dia slang for press con­fer­ence. “To give you an in­di­ca­tion of how un­fa­mil­iar that is to me, I ran into Bob Stauffer a few weeks ago. Kind of ran into him; he was stalk­ing me, as usual.” (At the time, Stauffer was af­ter­noon host on Team 1260 Ra­dio; within months, he was work­ing for the Oil­ers pro­vid­ing com­men­tary on game broad­casts.)

“Bob said to me,” Katz con­tin­ued, low­er­ing the tim­bre of his voice to make it grav­elly, “‘So, Daryl, when you’re fin­ished with all this, are you go­ing to have a presser?’ Not want­ing to let on how naive I was, I said to Bob, ‘Of course I’m go­ing to have a presser.’ Think­ing that it was a bev­er­age that old-time frat boys had to cel­e­brate some kind of rite of pas­sage. So if this is a presser, so be it.”

The joke fell flat but the point was made. The new team owner was not a “presser” kind of guy.

Katz has shown, since then, that he will talk in pub­lic when he be­lieves he has no other choice. But for the most part, other peo­ple do the talk­ing for him. There are pub­lic re­la­tions staff who han­dle in­quiries about the Oil­ers, and an­other team that han­dles deal­ings with the Katz Group it­self.

His per­sonal pub­lic re­la­tions is han­dled by Longview Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, a com­pany with of­fices in Van­cou­ver and Toronto.

Back in 2008, a New York jour­nal­ist who had oc­ca­sion­ally in­ter­viewed Katz for an in­dus­try mag­a­zine, spec­u­lated that Katz would likely have a higher pro­file af­ter buy­ing the team.

“Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s go­ing to be­come a Don­ald Trump type,” said Mike Vo­gel, speak­ing of the bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper with the fa­mously strange hair­style and the pen­chant for court­ing pub­lic at­ten­tion. “He can do it with­out go­ing from one ex­treme to the other. But I think he’ll be a lit­tle more pub­lic. He’ll have to be.” Per­haps not. The con­trast be­tween the two bil­lion­aires, one closed­mouthed, one blab­ber mouthed, could not be more stark. The Don­ald has 1,931,000 fol­low­ers on Twit­ter, where he reg­u­larly dis­penses what passes for wis­dom, such as this re­cent post: “It’s of­ten nec­es­sary to boast, but it’s even bet­ter if oth­ers do it for you.” Four years af­ter buy­ing the Oil­ers, Daryl Katz seems to have no need or de­sire to boast; he has no Twit­ter ac­count, no Face­book page, and rarely grants in­ter­views.

It is not, of course, un­usual for the very wealthy to also be very re­served.

In the course of writ­ing this ar­ti­cle, the Jour­nal con­tacted or tried to con­tact dozens of peo­ple who grew up with Daryl Katz, went to school with him, at­tended law school with him, worked for him or have been friends over the years. Many de­clined to be in­ter­viewed. At one point, Longview Com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­vided the Jour­nal with a list of ap­proved peo­ple to speak with.

“I think there are a lot of uni­di­men­sional, vir­tu­ally card­board car­i­ca­tures that have been used in de­scrib­ing Daryl,” says Bob Black, a close friend for 40 years who now works for Katz on the arena project.

Yet friends and as­so­ci­ates who agreed to be in­ter­viewed spoke mainly in gen­er­al­i­ties, us­ing many of the same words — kind, gen­er­ous, bril­liant, thought­ful, loyal — but told few spe­cific anec­dotes that might il­lu­mi­nate his char­ac­ter fur­ther.

Lack­ing the colours and tex­tures nec­es­sary to bring the man him­self into clear fo­cus, a writer is left to study shad­ows, hop­ing to see the out­lines of a life. Amer­i­can poet Stephen Vin­cent Benét once wrote that Civil War gen­eral Robert E. Lee was “a fig­ure lost to flesh and blood and bones, frozen into a le­gend out of life ... and kept his heart a se­cret to the end, from all the pick­locks of bi­og­ra­phers.”

Dur­ing the eight weeks the Jour­nal worked on this story, it be­came clear that those clos­est to Katz are equally vig­i­lant about man­ning the ram­parts erected around him. As a re­sult, we know lit­tle about what Daryl Katz thinks or feels, about how he spends his days or his money, about where he va­ca­tions, or what his dreams or deep­est fears might be.

Sev­eral peo­ple from the Univer­sity of Al­berta law class of 1985 sug­gested the Jour­nal con­tact Fabio Guarducci or Immo Sin­te­nis, who were both said to be close friends of Katz when he at­tended law school. When con­tacted, Sin­te­nis, a real es­tate lawyer in Ed­mon­ton, said tersely, “I’m not in­ter­ested!” and im­me­di­ately ended the call.

The Jour­nal con­tacted a man who once worked on Katz’s se­cu­rity staff. When a re­porter in­tro­duced and ex­plained him­self, the man sounded an­gry and quickly said: “This call is over. You call me again and I’ll charge you with ha­rass­ment. Un­der­stand?” Ab­so­lutely. The wealthy and pow­er­ful man so many peo­ple refuse to talk about was born in Ed­mon­ton on May 31, 1961, the first child of Barry and Ida Katz. The cou­ple later had two daugh­ters, Shel­ley and Alyssa.

Barry Katz had opened his first small drug­store in 1955 in the old Clock Drugs shop on Stony Plain Road. By the early 1960s, he was op­er­at­ing an 8,000-square-foot drug­store in Capi­lano Mall that af­forded his fam­ily a com­fort­able, up­per mid­dle class life­style.

It was in his fa­ther’s store that Daryl Katz first learned the busi­ness, and per­haps first saw the op­por­tu­ni­ties the in­dus­try held for an ag­gres­sive in­vestor will­ing to take risks.

A decade ago, Barry Katz spoke to a re­porter about those early days, re­call­ing how his son, then a tod­dler, would run down the store aisles with his arm ex­tended, his small hand knock­ing bot­tles and boxes off the shelves. “He was a ter­ror in the store,” Barry Katz said of his son.

When he reached school age, young Daryl was sent to the Tal­mud To­rah school in the Glenora neigh­bour­hood. Lewis Kay, now a pro­fes­sor of bio­chem­istry at the Univer­sity of Toronto, went to ele­men­tary school with Katz and re­mem­bers him as a hard worker.

The two boys were in the same class through sixth grade, and later at­tended night classes to­gether at the school.

“Even through­out ele­men­tary school, he was quite stu­dious,” Kay re­calls. “He was quite de­ter­mined to un­der­stand the ma­te­rial and do well. I re­mem­ber go­ing to his house one day for a play date ... and he had al­ready fin­ished a project the class had been as­signed weeks in ad­vance. He was very de­ter­mined.”

The Katz fam­ily was then liv­ing in the Rio Ter­race neigh­bour­hood; for sev­eral years the fam­ily home was at 15425 75th Ave. Barry and Ida Katz later moved a few blocks east, to a home at 127 Ques­nell Cre­sent, a prop­erty with a view of the North Saskatchewan River val­ley.

Kay says the boy he re­mem­bers from ele­men­tary school, where stu­dents learned He­brew and stud­ied re­li­gion in ad­di­tion to the stan­dard cur­ricu­lum, showed early signs that he ex­pected much from him­self.

“I think he al­ways had a sense of di­rec­tion,” Kay says. “I think that’s a credit to the up­bring­ing he got and to his very na­ture. He was a fo­cused in­di­vid­ual who clearly wanted to suc­ceed, even at an early age.

“This was not some­body who was born into the monar­chy. His fa­ther had a drug­store ... and that was it. The rest was really Daryl’s do­ing, with I’m sure some help, but it was really his dream and his in­no­va­tion. But the dili­gence and the per­sis­tence can prob­a­bly be traced back to those days at Tal­mud To­rah.”

Kay re­calls that his class­mate was a good ath­lete, a fast run­ner on the soc­cer field. Katz also ex­celled in the swim­ming pool, win­ning first-place rib­bons each year up to Grade 5. Kay re­mem­bers it well, be­cause he fi­nally beat his friend in Grade 6.

As a teenager, Katz at­tended Jasper Place High School in the city’s west end. In Grade 11, he was a mem­ber of the ju­nior boys bas­ket­ball team. He ap­pears twice in the 1978 year­book — even then, his trade­mark shaggy hair col­lar-length in back.

Dur­ing those years, Katz played high-level com­pet­i­tive ten­nis, trav­el­ling around West­ern Canada and into the United States. On the courts at the Hill­crest ten­nis club, he met Black, and the two re­main close friends to this day. Even as a teen, Black says, his friend was fas­ci­nated by busi­ness.

Glen B. Scott, now a part­ner with Brown­lee LLP in Cal­gary, has been a close friend of Katz since 1975; they were in high school and law school to­gether. Scott’s wife grew up down the street from Katz, and used to “steal his tri­cy­cle” when he was a lit­tle boy.

Katz drove a Mus­tang con­vert­ible to school, white with black pin­stripes, as Scott re­calls. “We used to go to par­ties and hang out,” says Scott, who was a year ahead of Katz at Jasper Place and grad­u­ated in 1978. “He was an in­tro­verted per­son. He didn’t have a big pack of peo­ple around him. Ever.”

Af­ter high school, Katz en­rolled at the Univer­sity of Al­berta, and even­tu­ally at­tended law school there. Some mem­bers of the 1985 law class ei­ther did not re­mem­ber Katz or said they did not know him well in those days.

Guarducci, who comes from a wealthy Ital­ian fam­ily and now owns a re­sort on the Tus­can coast in Italy, told the Jour­nal he and Katz were close friends back in law school.

“What type of story are you writ­ing?” he asked, when the Jour­nal reached him in midNovem­ber.

Told the ar­ti­cle was in­tended to be a pro­file of Katz, he asked: “Does he know about this?

“You know why I ask? Be­cause I’m def­i­nitely very good friends with him, and I’m quite sen­si­tive when you guys are writ­ing about him.”

The re­sort owner asked for a phone num­ber and promised to call back. He never did.

John Cox was also in that law class. He moved to Toronto af­ter law school, where he has a suc­cess­ful prac­tice and he and his wife have raised five sons. When the Jour­nal left a tele­phone mes­sage ask­ing for an in­ter­view about a former class­mate who now owns the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers, Cox later said he went home and did a Google search.

“I thought, ‘Oh, cool, it’s Daryl,’ ” Cox says. “And I im­me­di­ately thought, good for him, he was a nice guy.”

His sons are hockey fans. “I said, ‘Hey, guess what, boys? A guy I went to law school with owns the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers.’”

In a class filled with com­pet­i­tive peo­ple who have gone on to success, Katz did not stand out, Cox says, ex­cept that he drove a black Porsche 911 to univer­sity each day. “I didn’t re­al­ize how wealthy the guy was. He wasn’t pre­ten­tious about it at all.”

The 1980s were heady times in Ed­mon­ton. The Oil­ers won four Stan­ley Cups that decade, and the play­ers and a few well­heeled fans mixed so­cially in night­clubs, bars and restau­rants around town. Katz was in the thick of things, and at the time was dat­ing Jill Pock­ling­ton, daugh­ter of Peter, who then owned the Oil­ers.

“They were kind of strange times back then,” says Scott. “I re­mem­ber be­ing at a bunch of clubs and the Oil­ers would al­ways roll in. That’s when Gretzky was dat­ing Vicki Moss.

“I’m sure I was with Daryl a cou­ple of times when we drank out of the Stan­ley Cup.”

Bruce Sav­ille, who once owned shares in the Oil­ers as part of the Ed­mon­ton In­vestors Group, re­calls that Katz was part of the play­ers’ so­cial cir­cle in those days. “He was a friend of the Oil­ers, all the way along. He was a friend of Kevin (Lowe) and he knew lots of peo­ple, and he knew some of the play­ers.”

Sav­ille says he’s not sure how Katz made the tran­si­tion from fan with a ticket to friend with a back­stage pass. “Other than he was a wealthy guy of their age, they were look­ing for guys in the com­mu­nity to have fun with. It just hap­pened.”

Thou­sands of Ed­mon­ton boys grow up dream­ing of play­ing for the Oil­ers. Katz, from early on, may have had big­ger dreams in mind.

“He might have been think­ing about, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna own th­ese guys some­day,’” Scott says. “Or it would be fair to say (Katz was think­ing) I’m gonna own a pro­fes­sional hockey team.”

Katz ar­ti­cled at Barr, Wensel, Nes­bitt and Ree­son, and later went to work for Joe Shoc­tor, who was will­ing to let the young lawyer prac­tise law and pur­sue his busi­ness in­ter­ests at the same time. Within a few years, Katz was run­ning his own prac­tice out of an of­fice in the Cana­dian Com­mer­cial Bank Build­ing, now the Bell Tower. He fo­cused on cor­po­rate and fran­chise law, and in the late 1980s picked up the Al­berta fran­chise rights to the Yogen Fruz chain.

But his flir­ta­tion with the frozen yo­gurt busi­ness didn’t last long. He soon saw huge profit po­ten­tial in the phar­macy trade, and in 1991, in part­ner­ship with his fa­ther, Katz paid some $300,000 for the Cana­dian rights to the U.S.-based Medicine Shoppe drug­store fran­chise.

“It (Medicine Shoppe) had 1,000 stores in the U.S.,” Katz later told Na­tional Post Busi­ness Mag­a­zine. “If my fa­ther wasn’t in the busi­ness and didn’t have a his­tory,” he said, “I would never have suc­ceeded in get­ting it.”

To help fund the deal, Katz se­cured back­ing from Ed­mon­ton’s Ven­cap Eq­ui­ties, a now de­funct ven­ture cap­i­tal fund that was es­tab­lished by the Al­berta government.

“It (Ven­cap) did pro­vide him with a lit­tle fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­ity and helped to start his ball rolling,” says Sandy Sla­tor, who man­aged the fund at the time.

“It was one of his first ven­tures. Daryl was in busi­ness with his dad, and they made a com­pelling case that they could do things dif­fer­ently in the drug­store in­dus­try,” he re­calls. “It was an in­vest­ment that paid off for Ven­cap, but it wasn’t a huge deal. He was just a lo­cal en­tre­pre­neur we pro­vided sup­port to, and who went on to big­ger and bet­ter things.”

In 1992, Barry and Daryl Katz opened their first Medicine Shoppe store on 106th Av­enue, in Ed­mon­ton’s For­est Heights neigh­bour­hood. Around the time he started his com­pany, Katz was liv­ing in a lux­ury condo in the LeMarc­hand Man­sion on 100th Av­enue.

Two years later, Katz mar­ried Re­nee Gouin, a mem­ber of one of Ed­mon­ton’s wealth­i­est fam­i­lies, and the cou­ple moved to River­side Drive. Her par­ents, Jean Yvon and Carol Gouin, had started a Spruce Grove com­pany called North Amer­i­can Con­struc­tion Group in 1952, which they built into one of the largest min­ing and heavy con­struc­tion com­pa­nies in Canada.

Over the next two decades, re­lent­lessly, deal by deal and risk by risk, Katz built a huge pri­vate com­pany and ac­cu­mu­lated a per­sonal for­tune that has made him the 15th rich­est per­son in Canada (ac­cord­ing to Cana­dian Busi­ness Mag­a­zine) with a net worth es­ti­mated in Novem­ber 2012 at more than $3 bil­lion.

“Daryl is just a really great com­bi­na­tion of high in­tel­li­gence, drive, guts and cre­ativ­ity,” says Black, who was two years ahead of Katz in high school and a year ahead in law school, and now works as ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent for the Katz Group’s Ed­mon­ton arena cor­po­ra­tion. “It’s a for­mi­da­ble package.”

On the busi­ness side of the ledger, few of Ed­mon­ton’s cor­po­rate power bro­kers will talk about Katz on the record. Sev­eral who know him de­clined in­ter­views for this story, as did a num­ber of con­sul­tants who do busi­ness with Katz’s firms.

Half a dozen Bay Street an­a­lysts, who cover pub­licly traded phar­macy chains like Shop­pers Drug Mart and Jean Coutu Group, also shunned in­ter­view re­quests. That’s partly be­cause Katz’s net­work of 400-plus drug­stores – in­clud­ing his flag­ship Rex­all chain and the Rex­all Pharma Plus stores in On­tario – are pri­vately owned, and thus, eq­uity an­a­lysts at Canada’s ma­jor in­vest­ment firms have lit­tle in­ter­est in track­ing Rex­all’s per­for­mance.

As a re­sult, lit­tle is known about how Katz’s com­pany op­er­ates, in­clud­ing the profit lev­els it spins off and the health of its bal­ance sheet.

None­the­less, through past in­ter­views with this news­pa­per and other pub­li­ca­tions, it is pos­si­ble to sketch at least an out­line of how this shy son of a lo­cal phar­ma­cist be­came one of Canada’s rich­est men. The out­line that emerges is one of a con­fi­dent, ag­gres­sive deal­maker with a flair for board­room com­bat, the smarts to use the clout of key cor­po­rate part­ners, a will­ing­ness to take on sig­nif­i­cant debt when war­ranted, and a sharp eye for top ex­ec­u­tive tal­ent.

Katz has shown a pro­cliv­ity for snap­ping up com­pa­nies with bloated bu­reau­cra­cies and slash­ing their over­head costs to boost prof­its, while re­tain­ing only a small se­nior ex­ec­u­tive team.

Brent Belzberg is founder and se­nior man­ag­ing part­ner of TorQuest Part­ners, a Toronto pri­vate eq­uity fund that buys and sells mid-mar­ket com­pa­nies, mainly in Canada. He has known Katz for more than 20 years.

“He was look­ing to buy some drug­store busi­nesses in the east,” Belzberg says, “and he came to see me to see if we could help him at that point, be­cause we had a pri­vate eq­uity fund, to be his part­ner. We never did the ul­ti­mate trans­ac­tion, be­cause he did it on his own.”

On that trip to Toronto years ago, Katz sat in the lobby and waited, like any­one else, brief­case in hand and his head filled with plans. “He was just like any other small busi­ness guy who walked in here,” Belzberg says.

By the time that two-hour meet­ing ended, Belzberg knew Katz wasn’t just an­other guy with an idea. He re­calls think­ing at the time: “This is one great guy. This guy is go­ing to be spe­cial.”

By 1996, Katz had as­sem­bled enough money to ac­quire the Rex­all drug­store chain in Canada, which at the time op­er­ated just a few dozen stores. Although the his­tory of the Rex­all brand stretched back to the early years of the 20th cen­tury, its ca­chet had faded badly, and by the mid-1990s it was only a bit player in Canada’s drug­store in­dus­try.

The ac­qui­si­tion was a piv­otal one. Katz had a plan to re­vive the tat­tered Rex­all ban­ner, and the deal paved the way for a new part­ner­ship with one of Amer­ica’s might­i­est cor­po­rate be­he­moths, McKes­son Corp.

The San Fran­cisco-based com­pany, the largest drug dis­trib­u­tor in the U.S. with an­nual rev­enues of more than $120 bil­lion (three times larger than Canada’s en­tire re­tail phar­macy sec­tor) sup­plied Rex­all’s stores with in­ven­tory.

Just six years af­ter open­ing his first Medicine Shoppe out­let, Katz’s net­work in­cluded about 80 Rex­all stores, 30 Medicine Shoppe out­lets, and a small num­ber of other in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers.

“Daryl is a born en­tre­pre­neur,” says Glen Scott. “He doesn’t limit his mind. Peo­ple think in a box, and his box is very big. You might think, ‘Well, one day I’ll be the pub­lisher of the Jour­nal.’ He would think, ‘I’m gonna own all the news­pa­pers in North Amer­ica.’ Most peo­ple wouldn’t think that.”

Surely not. Yet Katz was just get­ting started; his next deal would prove to be a com­pany-maker — “the one that got ev­ery­thing go­ing,” he later told the Na­tional Post.

When Toronto-based su­per­mar­ket op­er­a­tor Oshawa Group put its Pharma Plus drug­stores in On­tario up for sale, Katz, then just 36, de­cided to make a bold bid to ac­quire the money-los­ing 143-store chain. The price tag was a re­ported $100 mil­lion.

Katz didn’t have that kind of money. But for McKes­son, it was lit­tle more than pocket change. And since Pharma Plus was McKes­son’s main cus­tomer in On­tario, keep­ing the trou­bled chain afloat was vi­tal to McKes­son’s Cana­dian growth plans, Katz told the Jour­nal in a 2003 in­ter­view.

With McKes­son’s back­ing, the debt-driven deal ba­si­cally dou­bled the size of Katz’s em­pire overnight.

Katz promptly re­cruited Norman Puhl to over­see the turn­around at Pharma Plus, and Puhl soon dou­bled its sales and ramped up prof­its, mak­ing it the jewel of Katz’s em­pire.

Belzberg says Katz is the kind of man who spends many hours alone, which gives him time to think about the big pic­ture. “He doesn’t con­sider him­self as the man­ager of the busi­ness. So he’s the owner but not the man­ager. On the drug­store busi­ness, he doesn’t have to run it ev­ery day, so he has tons of time to think about it, and to find the best peo­ple to run it.”

In 1999, per­haps em­bold­ened by the success of the Pharma Plus ac­qui­si­tion, Katz con­sid­ered bid­ding for Shop­pers Drug Mart. With more than 860 large-for­mat stores and $4.5 bil­lion in an­nual sales, Shop­pers was – and still is — the gi­ant of Canada’s drug­store in­dus­try.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2002 piece in Forbes mag­a­zine, it was Belzberg who in­tro­duced Katz to James Lee, then the vicechair­man of New York’s Chase Man­hat­tan Bank (now part of JPMor­gan Chase). Belzberg had also played a role in help­ing Katz to ac­quire Pharma Plus.

“Any­one ever lose money on you, kid?” Lee re­port­edly asked Katz, be­fore ar­rang­ing a bank syn­di­cate to lend him $1.6 bil­lion US to ac­quire Shop­pers. But Katz, who would have been forced to give up some of his eq­uity to get the deal done, got cold feet.

“I had the money and ev­ery­body was push­ing me to do it,” Katz told Forbes. In the end, he balked. “I would have had to have brought in a big pri­vate eq­uity firm from New York (as an eq­uity part­ner in the deal). We had all the money lined up, but it was the wrong time,” Katz later told the Jour­nal.

Be­fore 1999 ended, Katz ex­panded into the U.S. by ac­quir­ing the money-los­ing Min­nesota-based Sny­ders Drug Store chain, which op­er­ated in six states and churned out a re­ported $300 mil­lion U.S. in an­nual rev­enues. Two years later, he en­larged his U.S. hold­ings by ac­quir­ing the Drug Em­po­rium big-box dis­count chain.

“He’s not afraid to gam­ble what he has on the next great idea,” says Belzberg. “He’s not look­ing for se­cu­rity, he’s look­ing for the next one. He’s not go­ing to rest at what he has.”

But like many Cana­dian re­tail­ers who have ex­panded south of the bor­der, from Cana­dian Tire to Fu­ture Shop, Katz’s foray into the ul­tra­com­pet­i­tive U.S. re­tail mar­ket­place came to a painful con­clu­sion.

Sny­ders filed for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion in 2003.

And though it later emerged from cred­i­tor pro­tec­tion, Sny­ders had to sell or close Drug Em­po­rium’s re­main­ing stores. Sub­se­quently, Sny­ders con­tin­ued to down­size, and in early 2010, Katz Group sold its re­main­ing 25 Sny­ders stores to U.S. phar­macy gi­ant Wal­green Co. for an undis­closed amount.

Within the Katz Group sta­ble, the Rex­all brand has al­ways been para­mount. In 2003, the com­pany be­gan spruc­ing up and pro­mot­ing the brand far more ag­gres­sively. The re­launch in­cluded the rapid roll­out of scores of new, larger-for­mat stores across the coun­try — such as the 15,000-square-foot out­let on Jasper Av­enue, across from Earl’s Tin Palace — re­plac­ing dozens of smaller, older Rex­all out­lets.

Katz Group also pro­moted a fresh look for the brand in na­tional news­pa­per, TV and bill­board ads that fea­tured Rex­all’s dis­tinc­tive blue and or­ange colours. A flurry of new Rex­all prod­ucts be­gan hit­ting store shelves in 2004.

The same year, Toronto’s new $45-mil­lion Rex­all Cen­tre, a 12,500-seat ten­nis and en­ter­tain­ment com­plex on the cam­pus of York Univer­sity, opened its doors. Katz, a tal­ented ten­nis player, pur­chased nam­ing rights to the fa­cil­ity for 10 years.

In 2006, Katz and his wife and their twins, Har­ri­son and Chloe, moved into a 25,000-square­foot mod­ernist man­sion on Ed­mon­ton’s Val­leyview Point, over­look­ing the North Saskatchewan River val­ley. Three years ago, Katz paid to build an out­door rink be­side home, so his chil­dren would have some­where to skate and play hockey. The rink has ar­ti­fi­cial ice, boxes for play­ers and boards topped with pro­tec­tive glass and dec­o­rated with ads for PharmaPlus, Guardian drug stores and the Oil Kings.

By the time Katz de­cided to make his bid for the Oil­ers, he was well known in Cana­dian busi­ness cir­cles, pop­ping up reg­u­larly in na­tional mag­a­zine rank­ings of the coun­try’s wealth­i­est ty­coons.

Bruce Sav­ille, a former mem­ber of Ed­mon­ton In­vestors Group, which owned the team for a decade start­ing in 1998, says Katz put out his first “feeler” in 2005.

“He was sniff­ing around. He had some in­ter­est and was qui­etly let­ting peo­ple know that he had some in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing the Oil­ers, and what would be in­volved in ac­quir­ing the Oil­ers and what were the rules (within EIG about sell­ing).”

“I asked a lot of peo­ple: is this guy for real? Is he a good guy? I never found any­body who said any­thing bad about him.”

Sav­ille says he and Katz had a few con­ver­sa­tions, where Katz asked: “What would a guy do if a guy was in­ter­ested in ap­proach­ing (EIG about a sale)?”

“My an­swer was al­ways, ‘I don’t know what the hell you’d do, be­cause it’s struc­tured to block you (or any­body else). In two respects: one, no in­di­vid­ual could own more than 20 per cent, I think. And then there was this thing called the re­tire­ment amount. The re­tire­ment was in the share­hold­ers’ agree­ment and it was al­ways set at an ar­ti­fi­cially low price, ba­si­cally what we bought it for. And it never really changed.

“The prob­lem with it was, when­ever some­body was in­ter­ested in sell­ing or any­body died — one or two guys died — there was a rule that said, if you wanted to sell any or all of your shares, you first had to of­fer all of your shares to EIG at the re­tire­ment amount, the ar­ti­fi­cially low num­ber.”

For ex­am­ple, if the share price was set at $50 in­ter­nally, and an of­fer came in for $100 per share, those shares had to be of­fered to EIG mem­bers at the lower rate.

When his ini­tial of­fer of $145 mil­lion was spurned by the in­vestors group, Katz con­tin­ued to up the ante. He could seem­ingly af­ford any­thing he wanted, and usu­ally got what he wanted.

As the of­fers im­proved over time, Sav­ille says, more and more own­ers wanted to sell. Some still wanted to stay on, but knew they would have to bor­row heav­ily to buy the shares of those who wanted to cash out. The two sides even­tu­ally came to terms, with Katz paying $200 mil­lion to buy the Oil­ers in Fe­bru­ary 2008.

“He tells ev­ery­body that it’s the best ac­qui­si­tion he’s ever made,” says Craig MacTav­ish, who played for the Oil­ers for eight sea­sons and later coached the team un­der Katz. “I don’t know that it’s the most lu­cra­tive, but it’s the best ac­qui­si­tion he ever made.”

In four years un­der Katz’s own­er­ship, the team has strug­gled to es­cape the NHL base­ment. But af­ter three con­sec­u­tive No. 1 draft picks — Tay­lor Hall, Ryan Nu­gent-Hop­kins and Nail Yakupov — it’s clear the Oil­ers’ re­build­ing process is well along, and the fu­ture — once the NHL lock­out ends — seems brighter.

By be­com­ing an NHL owner, Katz was thrust un­will­ingly into a very bright spot­light. It’s one thing to own a gi­ant drug­store chain, quite an­other to own a pro hockey team in a city with hun­dreds of thou­sands of ra­bid fans.

“In a big­ger city, it’s prob­a­bly eas­ier to blend in,” Katz once told the Jour­nal, well be­fore he bought the team. “You’re not as big a story.”

In hind­sight, that might have been the big­gest un­der­state­ment of his life.

Af­ter two decades of al­most con­tin­u­ous growth, in Jan­uary of this year the Katz Group re­duced its re­tail op­er­a­tions, when it an­nounced the sale of Drug Trad­ing Co. and Medicine Shoppe Canada to long­time ally McKes­son Corp., for $1.2-bil­lion, of which $920 mil­lion was in cash. The sale in­cluded “non­core” fran­chises, but the Katz Group re­tained the cor­po­ra­te­owned stores, which rep­re­sent about 90 per cent of the com­pany’s as­sets, says a source fa­mil­iar with the deal. The com­pany also an­nounced that Rex­all had si­mul­ta­ne­ously ac­quired Dell Phar­ma­cies, an 18-store chain in south­ern On­tario. The net re­sult: Katz Group’s net­work of cor­po­rate and fran­chised stores had shrunk to about 450 out­lets, down from a peak of about 2,000 stores.

“This trans­ac­tion un­locks sig­nif­i­cant value through the sale of two out­stand­ing but non-core as­sets,” Katz said in a news re­lease at the time. “We will in­ten­sify our fo­cus on our cor­po­rately owned Rex­all and Rex­all/Pharma Plus store net­work. ... We will also ac­cel­er­ate the growth of our re­lated real es­tate in­ter­ests.”

In­dus­try watch­ers at the time said the deal would sig­nif­i­cantly bol­ster the bil­lion­aire’s per­sonal wealth. “Oh, yeah, he’s way in the money,” said one an­a­lyst, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. “He could build an arena by him­self.”

As the CEO of a pri­vate com­pany, Katz is ac­cus­tomed to a world where ne­go­ti­a­tions and deals are con­ducted and signed in board­rooms, with no need to an­swer to share­hold­ers, or the pub­lic. His hockey team, too, is a pri­vate com­pany. But the $475-mil­lion down­town arena the team in­sists it des­per­ately needs to sus­tain its fi­nan­cial fu­ture in the city will, if it is ever built, re­quire po­lit­i­cal and pub­lic sup­port.

And that ch a n ge s ev­ery­thing.

Since buy­ing the Oil­ers, Katz has been locked in one of the long­est-run­ning, most frac­tious civic de­bates in re­cent Ed­mon­ton his­tory — the de­bate over that pro­posed new arena. This time, the back and forth, the give and take, the pro­pos­als and counter-pro­pos­als have played out with a whole city watch­ing, with op­po­nents and sup­port­ers pars­ing ev­ery word.

Dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to city coun­cil in the sum­mer of 2010, Katz sat in the cen­tre of a row of ex­ec­u­tives in suits and laid out his vi­sion for the pro­posed arena and the down­town devel­op­ment around it. “It’s no se­cret that I have a life­long pas­sion for the Oil­ers and would des­per­ately like to see the Stan­ley Cup back in Ed­mon­ton,” he told coun­cil­lors. “But that’s not why I bought the team. If that was all this was about, I could have re­mained a fan with­out all this pub­lic at­ten­tion.”

This Septem­ber, that pub­lic at­ten­tion was sud­denly fo­cused on a trip to Seat­tle made by Katz and team of­fi­cials, a trip some ob­servers in­sisted was a bla­tant bar­gain­ing ploy, an un­veiled threat that the Oil­ers could move if the arena deal

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“It seemed like a good idea to ev­ery­body at the time,” MacTav­ish says of the Seat­tle trip. “I think that whole trip was a byprod­uct of a very high level of frus­tra­tion on Daryl’s part. We’re all hu­man, we’re sub­jected to emo­tions.”

Dur­ing the trip, Katz met with Chris Hansen, the bil­lion­aire be­hind Seat­tle’s new arena project, who hopes to re­gain an NBA fran­chise for that city. The Ed­mon­ton group, MacTav­ish says, couldn’t help but no­tice how well-re­garded Hansen is in Seat­tle.

“The thing that was ob­vi­ous to me was that ev­ery­body was coming up to Hansen, and it was just like, ‘Hey, Chris. Great job, bring­ing the NBA back here, really ap­pre­ci­ate what you’ve done for the city.’ I think that was an eye-opener for me. Why in Seat­tle and not in Ed­mon­ton?”

This fall, af­ter years of study, con­sul­ta­tion, in­tense lob­by­ing, count­less closed-door meet­ings, an at­tempted in­ter­ven­tion by NHL com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman, and ever-chang­ing pro­pos­als and counter-pro­pos­als about how to struc­ture a deal, a clearly ex­as­per­ated Mayor Stephen Mandel de­manded that Katz ap­pear be­fore city coun­cil to make his case.

When Katz re­fused, coun­cil voted to end ne­go­ti­a­tions on the pro­posed arena deal.

Seven weeks of si­lence fol­lowed.

But even with the arena deal stalled, Katz could not es­cape the me­dia spot­light. A month af­ter the Seat­tle trip, he was back in the news when fi­nan­cial state­ments made pub­lic by Elec­tions Al­berta showed Katz, his fam­ily and ex­ec­u­tives at his com­pany had given $300,000 to the Al­berta Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party dur­ing last spring’s pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

Ear­lier this week, the com­pany asked for and was granted per­mis­sion to ap­pear again be­fore coun­cil. Com­pany ex­ec­u­tives showed up en masse Wed­nes­day, with­out Katz, to say they’re will­ing to take off the ta­ble a re­quest for a $6-mil­lion an­nual sub­sidy from the city, and are will­ing to pay a “rea­son­able share” of any cost over­runs. And so the dance con­tin­ues. MacTav­ish says it has been dif­fi­cult to watch his boss go through the past few months, with all the pub­lic­ity and crit­i­cism about the arena deal.

“It has been hard know­ing him and see­ing this whole per­se­cu­tion, to a cer­tain de­gree. The per­sonal at­tacks have been pretty hard to fathom. I know that ne­go­ti­a­tions can get pretty emo­tional. But in this city, ev­ery­body has had a bit of a whack at him. In a lot of ways, he’s a guy that in­stead of be­ing vil­i­fied, should be more revered for what’s he done for the city.

“He’s def­i­nitely not the car­pet­bag­ger that he gets por­trayed as. He has shown that he’s go­ing to put the fi­nances back into the hockey team, time and time again.”

Brent Belzberg says what Katz has ac­com­plished in the past two decades is proof that his first im­pres­sion was right. “Here’s a guy who started as a lawyer in a rel­a­tively small city and built one of the big­gest wealths in Canada in a rel­a­tively short time, with­out any real fam­ily money. It doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten.”

Katz has an eye for peo­ple and knows a good idea when he sees one, says Belzberg.

“He’ll pick up the phone, and he’ll say: ‘There was this guy who had an idea in a tech­nol­ogy area, and I gave him some money, and he needs some ad­di­tional part­ners. And I think he’s an amaz­ing guy. I don’t know how much money I’ll make on this. But you should meet the guy. He de­serves to suc­ceed.’ And I’ll sit down with the guy, and you can un­der­stand why Daryl thought the guy de­served to suc­ceed. He was just a good guy who had a great idea, and Daryl de­cided he was go­ing to help him.”

Men like Katz, at some point, are no longer mo­ti­vated by money.

“Guys like him, money is just the mea­sure of the success,” Belzberg says. “It’s like the goal in the soc­cer game. For him, his wealth is a byprod­uct of his success in build­ing a world-class in­dus­try in Canada.”

Bill Com­rie, who last month sold his re­main­ing 25 per cent of The Brick, the Ed­mon­ton-based fur­ni­ture em­pire he founded and ran for years, first met Katz about 20 years ago.

“Daryl’s a very, very smart busi­ness­man,” says Com­rie, fa­ther of former Oil­ers for­ward Mike Com­rie. “He’s very driven to suc­ceed. He will prob­a­bly grow what­ever he has big­ger.”

Twenty years into his success story, Daryl Katz en­joys an op­u­lent life­style but re­port­edly works as hard as ever.

“I’m on the phone all the time,” Katz told the Jour­nal in 2003. “I carry my email with me wher­ever I go. I’m on the com­puter at three in the morn­ing. I get wo­ken up with calls from the East when it’s seven o’clock there and five here. So it is all en­com­pass­ing. You can’t be away from it. Not that I want to get away from it.”

Daryl and Re­nee Katz also own a pen­t­house in the Fair­mont Pa­cific Rim build­ing in on West Cor­dova Street in Van­cou­ver, a home in Palm Springs, Calif., and a cot­tage at Pi­geon Lake south of Ed­mon­ton.

With floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows, the 6,549-square-foot, two-storey Van­cou­ver pen­t­house of­fers panoramic views of the har­bour. The condo, with three bed­rooms and four bath­rooms, was bought by a num­bered com­pany in April 2010 and had an as­sessed value of $14,592,000 last year.

Ear­lier this year, the cou­ple filed a law­suit with the B.C. courts seek­ing dam­ages for a June 9, 2009, fire that was al­legedly started while work­ers were ren­o­vat­ing the condo. The law­suit out­lines $1,040,949.46 in dam­ages caused to blinds, elec­tron­ics, the se­cu­rity sys­tem, struc­tural features, area rugs, fur­ni­ture and art­work.

Lyle Best says it not un­usual for wealthy peo­ple to have sev­eral homes, or for those who can af­ford the lux­ury to es­cape Ed­mon­ton when the days are cold and the snow piles up out­side.

“I think if you ac­tu­ally looked at most cap­tains of in­dus­try in Ed­mon­ton — and I don’t know that there’s a reg­i­ment of cap­tains of in­dus­try here, it’s not a head-of­fice town — but a lot of th­ese peo­ple aren’t around much in the win­ter. If you didn’t have to be, if you had the money, why the hell would you?”

When the CEO of the Katz Group throws a party, it turns heads even among the com­pany he keeps. Af­ter the Her­itage Clas­sic out­door NHL game at Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium in 2003, play­ers from the Oil­ers and the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens, along with alumni from both teams, gath­ered at the Cen­tury Grill for a party hosted by Katz.

“He brought in Colin James (to en­ter­tain),” says Best. “We all knew that he was paying for the party, but he ba­si­cally was in­vis­i­ble that night. You’d see him stand­ing in a cor­ner, watch­ing the band.

“He did a sim­i­lar thing when (Mark) Messier’s num­ber was re­tired (in 2007). He threw a party at Lux and, again, he brought in Trag­i­cally Hip, I think it was. But when he does events like that, you don’t see him. He’s not like a guy who stands at the mi­cro­phone and says, ‘Look what I’ve done here.’

“You wouldn’t even know he was there. That’s some­thing about him that a lot of peo­ple don’t re­al­ize. Some peo­ple say it’s be­cause of his reclu­sive­ness, but I just think that part of his ego doesn’t need pub­lic stroking.”

Rich fam­i­lies throw more lav­ish par­ties and take more ex­pen­sive hol­i­days than the rest of us, but they also seem to have big­ger fights. The Gouin fam­ily’s con­struc­tion com­pany was sold for $347 mil­lion in 2003. Soon af­ter­ward, Re­nee Katz and her sis­ter, Elaine Busch, filed a $116-mil­lion law­suit against their fa­ther and their brothers, al­leg­ing they had been de­nied a right­ful share of fam­ily for­tune. The sis­ters filed a dis­con­tin­u­ance to the claim in Fe­bru­ary 2010, bring­ing the le­gal bat­tle to an end.

Over the years, Daryl and Re­nee Katz, now 51 and 61, have given mil­lions to char­i­ties, to hos­pi­tals and univer­si­ties, to the Art Gallery of Al­berta, and many other causes.

Those close to the bil­lion­aire say he val­ues fam­ily, friend­ship and loy­alty above all other things.

“He’s very fo­cused on his kids,” says Glen Scott.

The Katz twins, now 12, have at­tended a pri­vate school in Van­cou­ver. Har­ri­son, with his mop of curly red hair, has ap­peared on stage with his fa­ther dur­ing NHL drafts, and had his pic­ture taken stand­ing next to those first-round picks.

“They’re about as nor­mal as you can imag­ine,” Scott says of the chil­dren.

“He’s fan­tas­tic to his fam­ily, he’s amaz­ing with his par­ents,” says Belzberg. “He’s com­pletely ded­i­cated to his two kids, to a level that most of us would only as­pire to. Of­ten th­ese guys are made out to be some­thing dif­fer­ent than they are. He does the same things you do ev­ery day. He goes and plays with his kids. He reads a novel, he watches the hockey game. When you meet him, that’s what you think of him. He’s just a pretty reg­u­lar guy.”

Friends who spoke to the Jour­nal say Katz is, in the end, a pri­vate man who wants to main­tain his pri­vacy, a fam­ily man who wants to pro­tect his fam­ily.

“I don’t think he’s a Howard Hughes recluse type,” says Best. “I think he gen­uinely just doesn’t want to be in the lime­light. I think that’s part of his mys­tique.”

Those same friends say there is noth­ing mys­ti­cal about the loy­alty Katz shows for those who earn and keep his trust. At the end of the 2008-2009 NHL sea­son, with the Oil­ers fin­ish­ing out of the play­offs for the third straight year, Craig MacTav­ish re­al­ized the time had come to step aside as coach.

“I knew at that point (in the ’09 sea­son) that the gig was up,” MacTav­ish says. “I al­ways thought I’d be able to see the end sooner than any­body else. I think we all (Steve Tam­bellini, Kevin Lowe) kind of ar­rived at the same con­clu­sion, we all knew it was over.

“Daryl was the only guy. He had to be con­vinced. He wanted to hear it from me. That act of loy­alty was a lit­tle bit in­sight­ful, in terms of his char­ac­ter, from my per­spec­tive. He showed a lot of loy­alty to­ward me. ... You don’t for­get those mo­ments.”

MacTav­ish says his boss has been mis­rep­re­sented in much of the nar­ra­tive that has grown around him over the years.

“It’s a great story,” he says. “It’s just an un­be­liev­able story that a guy can grow up in Ed­mon­ton, go to law school here, have rel­a­tively not much (grow­ing up) and put this all to­gether — a guy who owns the hockey team, wants to be part of build­ing a fa­cil­ity down­town. It’s a good story. It should be a story (that’s) cel­e­brated.”

Oil­ers pres­i­dent Kevin Lowe, who has known Katz since the glory days of the 1980s, says his boss has been frus­trated over the past four years.

Asked whether Katz would ever think of sell­ing the team to rid him­self of the headaches, he says: “I think he’s had those emo­tions. But he’s not that flip­pant. He doesn’t change that quickly. I know how much he loves the team. He’s in it for more than that (the money). Prob­a­bly his long-range plan is he passes it down to his son, Har­ri­son. He loves it that much, and Har­ri­son loves it.” MacTav­ish, too, thinks Katz will keep the team in Ed­mon­ton, and fi­nally get an arena deal ironed out. “He’s not go­ing to be driven out of a sit­u­a­tion, that’s for sure. He’s got a good life, he doesn’t need the Oil­ers. At some point, there could be a point where you go, ‘Is the ben­e­fit worth sub­ject­ing my­self and my fam­ily to some of th­ese sit­u­a­tions?’

“But I don’t see that, at all. He’s got a vi­sion, he’s a big-pic­ture guy. He’s got a vi­sion of see­ing that Stan­ley Cup pre­sented to the Oil­ers in a new build­ing down­town.

“He’s nor­mally pretty good at see­ing those vi­sions through.”

. Rick Macwil­liam/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

Daryl Katz is rarely seen in pub­lic in Ed­mon­ton, pre­fer­ring to let his pub­lic re­la­tions staff do the talk­ing for him. This 2008 press con­fer­ence, held when he bought the Oil­ers, was an ex­cep­tion.

Ja­son Scott/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

Daryl Katz and his fa­ther, Barry, of­fi­cially opened the flag­ship Rex­all drug­store at Jasper Av­enue and 118th St. in Au­gust 2004 with a raft of dig­ni­taries, in­clud­ing then-mayor Bill Smith, in at­ten­dance.


The home on 75th Av­enue in Rio Ter­race where Barry and Ida Katz raised their fam­ily in the 1970s


In 1992 Katz and fa­ther Barry, above, opened their first Medicine Shoppe store in For­est Heights.


Daryl Katz, bot­tom right, shown with the ju­nior boys bas­ket­ball team at Jasper Place High School.

Katz as he ap­peared in his 1978 high school year­book.

Ryan Jack­son/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

A 2009 ae­rial pho­to­graph of the 25,000-square-foot Katz fam­ily home, a mod­ernist man­sion on Val­leyview Point over­look­ing the North Saskatchewan River val­ley.

Ed Kaiser/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal/ file

Bruce Sav­ille, a mem­ber of the Ed­mon­ton In­vestors Group, which owned the Oil­ers for a decade.


Cloth­ier Sam Abouhas­san, left, with Katz and Oil­ers gen­eral man­ager Kevin Lowe, right, at the 2007 Tee Up for Tots golf fundraiser sup­port­ing the Stollery Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

Ed­mon­ton jour­nal/ File

Daryl and Re­nee Katz at a gala re­cep­tion in 2008: the cou­ple has given mil­lions to char­i­ties and other causes.


Katz’s law school grad­u­a­tion pho­to­graph; he at­tended the Univer­sity of Al­berta.

Katz, front, and Bob Black, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of sports and en­ter­tain­ment 2010. Dis­cus­sions about the pro­posed $475-mil­lion down­town arena broke off

Mal­colm Mayes/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

Jour­nal car­toon­ist Mal­colm Mayes has drawn Katz many times since it be­came clear he wished to buy the Oil­ers. This car­toon is from De­cem­ber 2007, two months be­fore he bought the team.

Rick Macwil­liam/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

Gen­eral man­ager Kevin Lowe, left, and pres­i­dent and CEO Pa­trick LaForge, right, present Katz with a hockey jersey in July 2008 at his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance as team owner.

Mal­colm Mayes/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

North­lands, where the Oil­ers cur­rently play, was not part of dis­cus­sions about the new arena. Mayes drew this car­toon about the sit­u­a­tion in Fe­bru­ary 2011.

Ed Kaiser/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

and en­ter­tain­ment for the Katz Group, at a city coun­cil meet­ing in July arena broke off ac­ri­mo­niously in Oc­to­ber but re­sumed this week.


A draw­ing of the pro­posed down­town arena, which would be built be­tween 101st and 104th streets and 103rd and 105th av­enues.

Mal­colm Mayes/ Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal

Mayes’s take on the sit­u­a­tion in Septem­ber 2012, as ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Katz Group and the city be­came more and more frac­tious.


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