And then there was one

 

This weekend, the most debated, most public and most controversial business deal in Edmonton's recent history will come to a close.

 
 
 
 
 

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This weekend, the most debated, most public and most controversial business deal in Edmonton's recent history will come to a close.

On July 1, Daryl Katz will take over as the single owner of the Edmonton Oilers, replacing the 34 partners of the Edmonton Investors Group (EIG).

The EIG saved NHL hockey in Edmonton with its purchase of the failing Oilers franchise in 1998.

Oilers fans were long grateful for that, but in recent years, the popularity of the owners group went downhill. Fans grew discontent with the team's losing record, not to mention the departure of such stars as Chris Pronger and Ryan Smyth.

In March 2007, just when things were at their lowest point, Katz stepped forward, first approaching the EIG board, then waging a hostile takeover of the team.

Eleven months ago, the EIG and its chairman, Cal Nichols, firmly rejected Katz, telling him the team was simply not for sale.

But then something happened.

Four months later, in early December 2007, Nichols announced he had changed his mind and would sell his shares to Katz. Seven weeks later, every other one of the 34 partners agreed to sell their shares as well.

Last week at the NHL's Board of Governors meeting, the deal was approved, putting the official stamp on Katz's acquisition of the team. And the cheques are now about to be mailed out.

So what happened? Why the abrupt flip-flop by Nichols and the other EIG owners?

In a six-part series, award-winning reporter David Staples explores the rise and fall of the EIG.

Through a series of exclusive interviews with Oilers insiders, the Edmonton Journal will take you inside the EIG boardroom and reveal the strengths that made the EIG so successful and the divisions that eventually tore it apart.

OIL CHANGE

- Today: The rise of the Edmonton Investors Group

- Saturday: Daryl Katz puts out feelers

- Sunday: First cracks appear in the EIG

- Monday: Friendships go sour

- Tuesday: The last stand of the EIG

- Wednesday: Escaping the long shadow of Chris Pronger

edmontonjournal.com

Read all six parts of the series "Oil Change" on our website as they are published.

 
 
 
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