Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has been battling a potentially life-threatening infection over the past few years, the team says.
Katz, 57, made a rare public appearance in Edmonton on Tuesday at a news conference to announce that Ken Holland has been hired as the team’s new general manager and president of hockey operations.
The change in Katz’s appearance quickly became a focal point on social media, prompting questions from fans.
The Oilers Entertainment Group confirmed Katz has been dealing with a life-threatening sinus infection.
John Shannon from Sportsnet posted on Twitter that he had asked about Katz’s appearance after seeing so much public reaction.
“He carried an IV bag 24/7 during the playoff run, two seasons ago,” Shannon wrote. “The infection has a 50-50 survival rate. He’s had three surgeries over the past 10 months with one more surgery to go. It is the primary reason why he hasn’t been around Edmonton and the team.”
Tim Shipton, senior vice-president of communications with the Oilers Entertainment Group, confirmed to CBC News that Shannon’s tweets were factual.
A life-long Oilers fan, Katz grew up in Edmonton and attended the University of Alberta.
He founded the Rexall pharmacy chain and built it into a multi-billion business.
In 2008, he bought the Oilers hockey team and was instrumental in getting the city’s new downtown arena built. Rogers Place opened in 2016, in a part of downtown called the Ice District, where the Katz Group has built office towers and a hotel.
In 2012, the Katz Group sold 850 pharmacies that operated under the IDA, Guardian Drugs and The Medicine Shoppe names.
Katz said at the time the $3-billion deal would allow him to concentrate on his other businesses in real estate, sports and entertainment, and private and public investments.
In 2016, Katz got into the movie business in a partnership with Hollywood producer Joel Silver.
This story originally appeared on CBC