Thursday, July 21, 2005


First off, I feel obligated to let everyone know that despite my unfailing devotion to riding the Oilers' collective ass, I'm not actually from Edmonton--and though I've played hockey for most of my life, I wasn't always a hockey fan.

No, rather, I spent the first half of my life living in various places across the country, but mostly in Ottawa, which is also my place of birth. Although my dad, being a devout French guy, tended to watch Canadiens games every Saturday with his buddies, I never really cared that much for hockey during that time, aside from its qualities as an actual sport I could play. Still, I remember being pissed to find out that we were moving to Edmonton the same year that Ottawa was finally (and as it turned out, quite undeservingly) getting a hockey team; I'm not sure why I was acting like I cared about that... maybe because everyone else around me seemed to think it was such a big fucking deal and Sens swag was covering the town like an avalanche made of bad design (I still have a black corduroy ball cap with the original, now-all-but-forgotten Parliament Building-clock-tower-themed Senators logo).

But my hockey-caring-about quickly waned back to its base level of non-existence once again when we moved here; my not watching Oilers hockey would be the NHL's punishment for not taking into consideration my family's moving date when drafting their expansion plans. That was 1992--the Senators would go on to have third-worst inaugural season in NHL history (behind the '75 Washington Capitals--featuring former Oilers head coach Ron Low in net--and the oft-forgotten 1931 Philadelphia Quakers, who posted 4-36-4 and then promptly folded), and the Oilers, fresh off a Cup, had shown the hockey world that they didn't need Wayne anymore, as long as they had Mark and Jari, not realizing that in a short time they wouldn't have them, either.

It would be five years before I actually sat down and watched an Oilers hockey game; first round of the playoffs, 1996-97, and I was sitting in our friend Jay's basement with old pal Kenny Craddock (whose parents have held season tickets since season one but who himself only harbours a passing interest in the team) and a lot of canned Pilsner. I was surprised, even shocked by my own explosion of joy when our lightning-fast but lead-handed third-line centre Todd Marchant flew by a stumbling Grant Ledyard to go top corner on Andy Moog and eliminate the powerhouse Dallas Stars in game-seven overtime. It was a perfect moment, the high-water mark of the Oilers' capacity for achievement based on nothing but grit and determination. The Oilers were the little team that made good. Today, after countless retribution pummelings courtesy of the Stars, we're just a little team--our making-good days perhaps gone forever.

But who knows where this season, with the impending roster craziness and a wacky draft lottery ready to go, will take the Oilers. It could be towards glory, or more likely, towards overpaid and occassionally inept mediocrity. The point is, like Mikey said earlier, the Oilers have long enjoyed a free ride on the backs of an Edmonton sports media too warried that the team will shut down their access to the club if they ever wrote, well, the truth: that this small-market stuff is bullshit. There have been teams (like Calgary, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Buffalo) who managed to do far more on the ice with far less money than the Oilers' most recent player budget of $32 million, so it's hard to imagine why the Oilers keep thinking our small market is a reasonable excuse for their suckery. The reasons are far less abstract than that. Our drafting is terrible, and has been so for more than a decade, yet Kevin Pendergast still works in the organization. Our special teams are abysmal, thanks to newly acquired special teams coach Craig Simpson, who any other team would have fired after he turned the a mid-ranged PP and PK in the worst in the league in just one year. And, of course, we religiously trade every year for "potential" and "work ethic" rather than "pure skill." You know, because we're a small market.

Well, it's crap. Oilers fans' expectations are far greater than our media makes it seem. We don't care if the Oilers are playing "Oilers hockey" (i.e. run-and-gun, offense-first style play); we want those fuckers to win. The reason they haven't played a strong defensive style since MacTavish's first year behind the bench (when the team first second to the Colorado Avalanche for fewest goals against) isn't because that's not what fans want to watch; it's because we don't have the talent to back it up. Oilers hockey can't be an excuse anymore. Fans like Mike and I want a team that knows how to win.

Since we now live in different cities, the days of us going to Scholar's and eating shitty wings while Mike pounds on the table and hollers at the TV are, sadly, over. But thanks this modern world of ours, we can do all that here instead. Except, I guess, eat chicken wings.

Anyhow, enjoy, fuckers.

And go Oilers. Please.


who_made_who_1982 said...

Will this blog have any discussion of AC/DC or AC/DC related topics? I'm asking because my google alert informed me that "Covered in Oil" (track # 4 from 1995's "Ballbreaker") had become a blog's title.
I guess you're in Canada? Does anyone have any tour info?


Anonymous said...

Dear Randy F

According to AC/DC's website there's no tour info for 2005, I'm sorry to say.

We promise to talk all AC/DC all the time once we run out of things to say about the Oilers.

~Mike W

who_made_who_1982 said...

I can't tell you how long I've been looking for a board that isn't all Bon-Scott-is-in-the-past-man. Most of the guys are really stuck up, but you seem cool. Brian Johnson has his strong points, but it's been almost 30 years and I've yet to see anyone, Sammy H included, rock as hard, or as true, or as rockin' as Bon!
I live in Wisconsin, and dig hockey, but nothing compares to lady rock.