The Edmonton Oilers, and more specifically Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, were facing some pretty heated backlash from fans this week when, unlike other franchises around the National Hockey League, they failed to make a commitment to continue to pay their salaried employees as a result of the suspension of the 2019 -2020 NHL regular season caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
In fact the Oilers, and again more specifically Katz himself, made the "naughty list," today. That list was one compiled by a journalists to keep track of all the billionaire owners of the National Hockey League that had thus far failed to commit to paying their staff in spite of the fact that they would not be working the actual games moving forward. Katz was on that list and was in fact listed as one of the wealthiest men on that list but it seems that the Oilers were planning to do the right thing all along, that or the pressure created by their own fans resulted in a quick and decisive response from the organization.
The Oilers have now released a statement making it clear that they will not only stand by their employees, but additionally they will be donating all food that would have been wasted as a result of the stoppage in play to a local food bank, turning an obviously negative situation into one that will have a very nice silver lining.
From the Oilers announcement today:
The health and safety of our employees, players and fans continues to be our top priority. Our employees have shown resilience, professionalism and understanding as we work through these challenging times. Developing our People and being an exceptional place to work is a Core Value at OEG. In times like this, we all need to stick together. Our Company, our City and across Oil Country.
"The pause of NHL hockey, concerts and events at Rogers Place has hit everyone hard, but it has created an even more difficult situation for our nearly 1,650 part-time staff. As a result, we are rolling out an assistance program to ensure their well-being is protected," said OEG President of Business Operations & Chief Operating Officer Tom Anselmi. "All part-time staff affected by a temporary halt in our operations will receive financial payment to bridge them between their maximum EI benefits and their regular average earnings for remaining regular season games."
We will also continue our Food Program, and any excess food and beverage inventory from Rogers Place that is perishable will be donated to Edmonton's Food Bank.
No doubt this will please the segment of the fan base that was critical of the Oilers for not leading by example in the way that organizations like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, or Detroit Red Wings have done, especially given that they appear to be doing all they can to make the best of a bad situation.