EDMONTON – It started with a Facebook group, then came an online fundraising campaign, some billboards, and now, a paid newspaper ad.
Some Edmonton Oilers fans are pretty unhappy with the team’s performance, and they’re pushing forward with their “Lowe Must Go” message.
The “Kevin Lowe Has To Go” Facebook page was started about a year ago. Since then, it’s attracted more than 16,600 fans.
The creator of the group — who has refused to reveal his identity publicly — says even the recent firing of coach Dallas Eakins won’t stop the bleeding.
“People said overwhelmingly that they wanted to put an ad in the paper,” said the page creator. “That is $5,680 for the Sun.”
On Friday, a full-page ad paid for by the group appeared in an Edmonton newspaper. It reads, in part: “We have listened to the promise of better times to come and stood vigilantly by this management group for far too long now.
“Changes need to be made at the highest level of the Oilers organization before this team can ever expect to improve on the ice.”
The paid ad — which you can view in its entirety below — was signed ‘The Fans’ and paid for by ‘The Kevin Lowe Must Go’ Facebook group.
“I had heard they were fed up but I didn’t know that Facebook would get behind it, but I’m not shocked that that many people are fed up,” said the anonymous founder. “It’s not just a game to the people in this city. There are bars … their numbers suffer because nobody wants to come watch the games anymore.
“I’ve heard from people that have had seasons tickets for 15 years and they won’t be renewing because they can’t sell their tickets now. They don’t want to go to the games and they can’t sell their tickets for a third of what they paid for them.”
READ MORE: Kevin Lowe posts message to Oilers fans
In November, an electronic billboard was rented which read “This is as Lowe as we go.” The Facebook group said a long-time season ticket holder paid $1,400 to rent the board for four weeks. Last year, the group did something similar with a billboard on the Yellowhead.
The man who started the ‘Lowe Must Go’ group says it’s nothing personal against Lowe, but that he’s the person responsible for hiring management who are then responsible for the on-ice product.
“He’s the president of the company. You can take the analogy any way you want. If he’s in a business, he’s hiring managers underneath him that are repeatedly not getting the job done, and then the managers under them are hiring coaches that aren’t getting the job done, or they’re bringing in the wrong players or they’re not making the right trades. It’s a chain of responsibility.
“If he’s not responsible for the outcome of the game, what’s he doing? What’s his responsibility?”
The day after he lost his job, Eakins urged fans to be patient, stressing it will take time for the team to grow and mature.
The 30-year-old (who says he’s been an Oilers fan for 27 years) says the newspaper ad was expensive, but the group crowd-funded money on its Facebook page and a private donor offered up the rest.