Oilers expand minor league base by purchasing ECHL team
Move will allow prospects to follow organization’s development programs
EDMONTON - Can’t beat them? Buy them.
While the Edmonton Oilers struggle to find their way back into the win column, their parent group, Rexall Sports, has added another extension to the organization.
The Oilers, who already own an American Hockey League franchise in Oklahoma City and the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings, have purchased the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors.
“To be successful (owner Daryl Katz) knows he needs a vertically integrated organization. In hockey, you need to buy your own development programs,” said Rexall Sports president Patrick LaForge, who was in California on Thursday for the announcement.
“It’s the right community. It’s a place where we can draw players ... and it has the right athletic environment for them to succeed. It met all of our objectives.”
The acquisition will allow the Oilers to deepen their minor league pool, which at the very least should benefit the Oklahoma City Barons and help with the goaltender development.
There is still one year remaining on the agreement the Oilers have with the Prodigal group in Oklahoma City — a partnership which has so far proven to be beneficial in every way except in the stands. Hockey has been a tough sell in a market where the NBA’s Thunder rule the roost.
LaForge didn’t rule out an extension, but said the two sides have yet to sit down and assess the season.
In Bakersfield, the Oilers have a 10-year lease with the city and are taking over a franchise owned by Jonathan Fleisig for the past 16 years.
According to LaForge, the fact the Oilers switched ECHL affiliation from the Stockton Thunder to the Condors in July had nothing to do with his pitch to purchase the club. The two sides first spoke in June. He said the move was a hockey decision and came at the urging of Barons general manager Bill Scott.
The Condors are the only ECHL team owned solely by an NHL franchise.
Goaltender Laurent Broissant, who played for the Oil Kings and was acquired by the Oilers this season in a swap with the Calgary Flames, and Tyler Bunz, a St. Albert-raised goalie selected in the 2010 NHL entry draft. are playing at Bakersfield.
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