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Oilers Accused of Drink-and-Dash; Ethan Moreau Blames Power Play

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You've probably heard by now. It's been front-page news. On New Years Eve, the Oilers got thumped by the Calgary Flames and decided to deal with things the Lord Bob Way: by drinking to excess. Heading out to a restaurant named Osteria de Medici, Italian for "this whole story seems vaguely shifty", the Oilers and guests, coming to a total of forty-five people, rang off a bill of $16,796.39 after tax and gratuity, including $8,248 in liquor. 

From there... well, let's let restaurant owner Maurizio Terrigno take it

These guys came in, they enjoyed our hospitality and when the bill came ... they went ballistic to the point where they started threatening, denigrating my staff, saying, `We're the Edmonton Oilers, we expect a 50 per cent discount.

.(see TSN, the Globe & Mail... what, you thought I was kidding about that front-page news stuff?)

A couple of points to defend the Oilers here. First off, $8,248 in liquor divided by forty-five people equals $183.29 each. I've had my share of nights where I drank more than $183.29 in liquor and that's not including no $1,000 bottles of champagne. Particularly at what CTV calls an "up-scale Calgary restaurant" which means "jack the price of liquor up about 200%". It's a number that sounds much more impressive than it is.

Second, this story doesn't make any damned sense.

I mean, think about it for ten seconds. The Oilers go out for New Years. Do you think they show up, forty-five strong, without a reservation or any prior contact with the restaurant? Of course not. Those big forty-five man functions at fancy eateries are dealt with by some guy in the Oilers office calling way the hell in advance, and they don't just set a time. They set a menu, they set expectations, and yes, to an extent, they set a price. Not "we'll walk out of here paying twelve grand" but "our entrees will cost this much, our appetizers this much,, and the booze will be arranged thusly".

That, incidentally, is what Allan Watt of the Oilers says happened according to the TSN article. I'd contact him for comment directly but, y'know, blogger.

Nobody disputes that the Oilers got a bill for seventeen grand and objected to it. The Oilers say they objected to it in the restaurant, got a revised bill without any fuss, paid, and got the hell on with their lives. The owner says that the Oilers denigrated his staff. Well, if you've met a few restaurant owners, you'd be bursting into fits of insane giggles at the idea of a guy at an up-scale restaurant nobly sticking up for his staff without any personal stake in the matter.

Terrigno's story requires that the Oilers public relations guys inexplicably screw up setting this dinner up in the first place, the Oilers decide not to pay a few thousand dollars on the bill, and then his meekly deciding to let them go. If you, me, and forty-three of our friends said that we're not paying four grand of our bar tab, we'd get the cops called on us. Did Terrigno have too much respect for the cachet of the Edmonton Oilers and fear what they could do to himself or his business? Apparently not, since he immediately called every media outlet he could find to say what dirtbags the Oilers are.

There was a great Globe and Mail story on this whole thing which appears to have disappeared down the memory hole. What a shame, since it included Terrigno's explanation to the difference in the bill: the Oilers thought they were ordering liquor by the bottle but he was charging them by the shot. In short, it wasn't so much that the Oilers drank a lot as they thought they were drinking them from a less-price-gougey menu. It also had the glum Terrigno's sad statement that what he was most upset about would be that his staff wouldn't be seeing a gratuity from this whole affair. So yeah, he really cares about his crew.

The Oilers say that they're being used as a publicity tool. As much as I love to rag on the Oilers, that sounds about right.