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-2. Every year through the 1990s and early 2000s the Oilers would lose one or two star players simply because they could not afford to pay them, given the economics of the team, which saw the Oilers as one of the lowest revenue and lowest value NHL franchises. Who left? Jari Kurri, 1990, Mark Messier, 1991, Charlie Huddy, 1991, Adam Graves, 1991, Grant Fuhr, 1991, Steve Smith, 1991, Glenn Anderson, 1991, Jeff Beukeboom, 1992, Kevin Lowe, 1992, Joe Murphy, 1992, Norm McIver, 1992, Vincent Damphousse, 1992, Esa Tikkanen, 1993, Petr Klima, 1993, Craig MacTavish, 1994, Dave Manson, 1994, Curtis Joseph, 1998, Bill Guerin, 2001, Doug Weight, 2001 and Anson Carter, 2003.
-3. If you don’t think all those star players leaving didn’t cut a six inch valley through the crater of the skull of many Oilers fans, you weren’t an Oilers fans in those years. It was ongoing, painful, frustrating, demoralizing. Fortunately, with the NHL’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement and increased revenue sharing in 2005, things improved for the Oilers, even as the Edmonton Investors Group owners continued to run a tight financial ship, which led to Ryan Smyth leaving in 2007. But, generally, if the will of the player was to stay in Edmonton, money could be found to keep him.
-4. The team’s financial fortunes took a massive turn for the better when new owner and super fan Daryl Katz bought the team in July 2008. Katz has spent tens of millions of extra dollars to help his Oilers compete, paying extra on everything from parking expensive players in the minors to trading front-loaded contracts for back-loaded contracts, from paying for extra front office managers and scouts to spending to the top of the NHL’s salary cap. It’s all about winning, Katz said when he bought the team. “I’ve told all the guys we’re going to do whatever we have to do to make the Oilers a competitive, elite team in the National Hockey League.”