You don't mind if we call you by your given name, do you? After all, we've been in this mess together for quite sometime now and at this point one would hope we're beyond formalities. Yes, we know you're not one for familiarity, but perhaps just this once we could chat like friends and do away with social niceties. So, with that understanding and with all due respect....
What the hell, dude?
Yesterday we were all somewhat shocked when our city council announced that you and your business bros had made yet another demand on us for more money. You've had the support of a critical mass of Edmontonians for nearly two years and after the circus that was the "Arena Hearings" in 2011 - gosh, weren't they a big load of fun? - and the subsequent vote in favor of the arena deal by all but two of our city councillors, (Kerry Diotte and Linda Sloan, who took more than their fair share of heat for standing up and stating the deal wasn't good for Edmonton) we all kinda thought it was good to go, green flag, full speed ahead. Following yesterday's theatrics, the message we received was much different.
Edmonton, we have a problem. Abandon lift off.
When our good Mayor Mandel exited from Council Chambers to face the media scrum yesterday afternoon his face said far more than his words could ever say. What his face said was clear - Mayor Mandel is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore.
Daryl, here's the thing about our Mayor. He has his critics. He pretty much ignores them. He has his supporters. He kinda ignores them as well. Mandel marches to the beat of his own drum and he's willing to keep rhythm when he truly believes it's in the best interests of the citizens of Edmonton (or the best interests of himself) to do so. If you mess with Mandel's rhythm, the marching band is coming to a full stop. To top that off, when the pro Mandel parade marshall, city councillor Kim Krushell trades her baton for a flame thrower, there is gonna be some trouble. Our parade marshall had fiery eyes yesterday. Her flame thrower is fully fuelled.
Until yesterday you had unwavering support from some very influential Edmontonians - some great business people. Folk we look to for a future vision of our city. When even they aren't quite as supportive as they've been in the past...well...the rest of us get kinda nervous and stuff.
To add to the rest of this, many of those same supporters have stated time and time again that there is no way you, as an Edmontonian, as the golden son of our city, as a local business owner, would move this team. We've relied on your loyalty to the City of Champions and we naively saw you as a champion of the city.
Then the talk of your recent move to Vancouver comes up and following our city council's resounding "no!" to your demands, Seattle city council announces they've finalized the funding model for their new arena - and offered $80 million in concessions to an NHL team. Kind of interesting, don't you think? Especially given that Seattle is less than a 3 hour drive (precisely 49 minutes by private jet) from Vancouver. We're all pretty certain you wanted us to know that. We do. We read you loud and clear. But guess what - we still aren't biting and the following is why.
Daryl, we love the Oilers. Our hockey team is the soul of this city. The Oilers have stood as the one unifying force across gender, tax bracket, education, race. The Oilers belong to Edmonton. We, the people of Edmonton, built that team. You did not. You've made it very clear that the Oilers will not play in Rexall past 2014. You've even got the NHL's Boogeyman Bettman on your side. Oilers fans see exactly what you're doing and suggesting but understand this: your threats to come like a thief in the night and steal the very soul of this city are not only entirely unacceptable, they're tantamount to treason.
You call yourself an Edmontonian. You've claimed on many occasions to be a hearty supporter of both the city and of OUR team. You operate businesses here that are supported by the damn fine people of Edmonton. No one who considers himself an Edmontonian would ever consider robbing this city of it's soul.
If you pull the Oilers out of the City of Champions, pull your business out as well. Edmonton doesn't take kindly to traitors. If you need some schooling on how well we deal with owners who betray us call Peter Puck, buy him a Venté non-fat Macchiato and discuss while you overlook the Pacific Ocean.
You know that old saying "you can't go home"? That only applies when home doesn't want you anymore. So we hope you've packed a lot of umbrellas to keep you dry out there on the wet west coast because if you rob us of our soul you won't be welcome home again.
We may not be as high falootin as your west coast friends, or your Palm Springs golfing buddies, or Gary Bettman .... but Daryl, we know what loyalty means.
And we now see that you have none.
Edmonton, The City of Champions
Follow Kathleen Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KikkiPlanet