Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz joined host Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now, speaking to the public for the first time since it was revealed he had been dealing with a life-threatening sinus infection.
“Clearly, it’s been a battle,” Katz said on Monday.
He added the community outreach and support he received was unexpected.
“I got thousands and thousands of cards and emails. It’s been overwhelming. My family and I appreciate it,” Katz said.
After just one playoff season in the 11 years Katz has owned the team, the organization made an effort to bring more experience to the front office, hiring both Ken Holland as general manager and Dave Tippett as head coach.
Watch below (May 28): The Edmonton Oilers introduced Dave Tippett as their new head coach on Tuesday. John Sexsmith has the details.
“We made all the necessary changes this off-season we viewed were important to improve the hockey club,” Katz said. “They bring enormous stability and experience to the organization.”
A clear priority was adding roster depth on the wings, which Holland did with the additions of Markus Granlund, Josh Archibald and Tomas Jurco.
“The idea was to compliment the core that we have. We believe we have a core that’s as good as any in the NHL.”
The core being 50-goal-scorer Leon Draisaitl, 2011 first overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, defencemen Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom and, of course, Connor McDavid.
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Katz acknowledged the franchise’s struggles in recent years, and hopes the on-ice product and game-night experience at Rogers Place will be more of a draw this season.
“We know it’s been tough sledding for Oilers fans, both on the ice and off the ice.
Finally, with all the off-season changes from the executive offices to the ice at Rogers Place, Katz was asked what his message to the fans is as we veer toward a new era of Oilers hockey.
“Thank you for your unrivaled support and of the Oilers and passion for hockey in Edmonton. None of us take that for granted for one second. Everybody in the organization plans to turn this around and when we do, it’s going to be very special for Oilers fans.”
The Oilers open the 2019-20 regular season at home on Oct. 2 against the Vancouver Canucks.