When news surfaced that a contingent of Oilers executives (along with legendary former player Wayne Gretzky) were in Seattle and toured Key Arena, the idea of relocation started to be brought up, even if it was nothing more than a negotiating tactic to use as leverage against the city of Edmonton.
(For what it's worth, Gretzky followed that up soon after by saying he can't ever see the Oilers moving, and that he was only in Seattle to watch the Seahawks-Packers game.)
People in Edmonton didn't like it. On Saturday, club owner Daryl Katz took out a full page ad in the Edmonton Journal to apologize to the people of Edmonton and Oilers fans.
The text of that ad is as follows (you can view the letter itself it by clicking here)
To the people of Edmonton, Northern Alberta, and Oilers fans everywhere,
I owe you an explanation.
I was upset when certain confidential information was leaked and by comments that I thought were unfair and called my integrity into question. I reacted by trying to send a message to City leaders that they should not take my support for a new arena for granted.
In doing so, I took for granted your support and your love of the Oilers.
That was wrong, and I apologize.
The best I can say is that I did it because I'm fighting for a deal that will enable the team to stay in Edmonton -- and not because I want them to be anywhere else.
That's why I bought the Oilers in the first place. Because I want the NHL to be sustainable in Edmonton for the long-term, and because I saw the city's need for a new arena as an opportunity to transform our city for the better.
In hindsight, I have underestimated the degree to which it would be up to us to make the case for public funding. As I think you all know by now, public communications is not in my nature. Chalk that up as a personal shortcoming.
The simple fact is that the Oilers need Edmonton, and Edmonton needs the Oilers. Each is an intregal part of the fabric and identity of the other.
We are continuing to work with City Administration to forge a win-win partnership that will benefit our city and that we can all be proud of.
I hope we can count on your support.
The Oilers play at Rexall Place. It's the third oldest building in the NHL, behind only Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.