MR. FARTCATCHER: OILER FANS BRING IT

Robin Brownlee
July 08 2011 02:24PM

Loyal. Gullible. Passionate. Bitter.

Pick any word you want to describe fans of the Edmonton Oilers, but after living in this town for 22 years -- I arrived just in time to catch the last Stanley Cup parade in 1990 as a newbie at the Edmonton Journal, the emotional connection between the people who buy the hats and tickets and jerseys and their hockey team never ceases to amaze me.

In a town where it's been two decades since the Oilers won anything, after five straight years out of the playoffs, including back-to-back 30th-place finishes during the leanest stretch in franchise history, you'd think the love affair might wane just a little, but nooooooooooooooo.

I drove out to Millennium Place in Sherwood Park for the fifth day of the Oilers development camp today. I had to circle for 10 minutes to find a parking space. When I walked into the rink, there wasn't an empty seat to be had -- at least not on the side of the two-rink complex where the team was skating. People were standing six deep.

When I emerged from the dressing rooms after the last players had left out the back door to hop a bus back to Rexall Place, there were still 50 people at the wrong exit hoping somebody, anybody -- "Hey, is that Kyle Bigos?" -- would sign something.

Tip of the hat. Really.

WIN OR LOSE

Save for a dark stretch in the mid-1990s when the team was beyond brutal (The Gord Mark Era), the economy stank like over-ripe limburger and Peter Pocklington was losing his tenuous grip on the franchise, I've never seen fans here waver in support of this team.

Bitch and moan? Sure. Whine about what Kevin Lowe did or didn't do as the GM? Absolutely. But shrug their shoulders? No. Five years out of the playoffs and you can't find a parking spot in Sherwood Park because fans are packing a rink to watch drills the first week of July?

For somebody who wasn't born-and-bred here, who didn't witness the Glory Days first-hand before Pocklington sold Wayne Gretzky and for someone who arrived late to the party as a detached observer -- I qualify as all three -- the relationship between the Oilers and their fans is truly something to behold.

That's not lost on the youngsters out on the ice, either. While most of them have heard what a hockey-mad fishbowl Edmonton is, and about how passionate the people here are about the game, what they've seen this week is still an eye-opener.

OIL COUNTRY

"It's been a lot of fun," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, thrust into the hot spotlight that is Edmonton when the Oilers took him first overall at the 2011 Entry Draft in Minnesota.

"It's pretty cool seeing all these people here. It's a just a prospects camp, but every time we come here, it's pretty packed. It's really good to see all the people."

If you've been out to Millennium Place, where camp concludes with a three-on-three tournament Saturday, you've seen the mob. People wearing their jerseys, thumbing their line-up sheets and staring out at the ice, trying to attach a face to the names and the numbers.

Oohs and aahs as a Nugent-Hopkins or an Anton Lander dangles. Eyes on Colten Teubert, who came over in the Dustin Penner trade. I have seen far less interest and buzz in some NHL arenas -- Tampa Bay, Florida and Anaheim come to mind -- on game nights.

"You can see Edmonton is a great hockey city," said David Musil, who spent some time here as a youngster when his dad Frank was toiling for a long line of mediocre Oiler teams. "It's amazing here. It just a practice in the middle of summer and people come and watch. It feels awesome coming into an organization where fans love hockey like this."

If this team ever gets good, they're going to need more parking spots.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Quicksilver ballet
July 08 2011, 05:59PM
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While we're on the topic of passion. What's the normal age when once a week is enough for married couples. At what age does it become easier to just watch the Oiler game on TV....... Robin?

Is squeezing this in before or after the game, still giving her a fair shake?

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#52 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:11PM
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...gawd Brownlee you can write the flavor of stuff...this piece has brought back some fine memories from covering the glory days ...especially the 'open practices' as they were called... there'd be 8000 fans show up for a practice...gretz once donned Moogers' blocker and trapper and played goal...there was tug-a-war one year ...great piece and the avatar is more to the point...y'old fart...ya i said it ...you said the other day on gregors show "i'm not SIXTY!!!" to gregor and i got my back up a bit but hey iffen ur fity sumfin you're still...well...gettin' there...anyway

keep up the great work...thankyou

p.s. when's the new radio debut

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#53 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:14PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

While we're on the topic of passion. What's the normal age when once a week is enough for married couples. At what age does it become easier to just watch the Oiler game on TV....... Robin?

Is squeezing this in before or after the game, still giving her a fair shake?

Q...this pricelessness made me L M F A O thanks

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#54 D
July 08 2011, 06:22PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

While we're on the topic of passion. What's the normal age when once a week is enough for married couples. At what age does it become easier to just watch the Oiler game on TV....... Robin?

Is squeezing this in before or after the game, still giving her a fair shake?

Man I could not stop laughing when I read this. Mad props!

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#55 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:26PM
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D wrote:

Man I could not stop laughing when I read this. Mad props!

...Q...ZING!!!

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#57 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:30PM
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...a rebuttal i wasn't expecting

nice Brownlee nice

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#58 DJ Dynasty Handbag
July 08 2011, 06:33PM
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check out @helenenothelen twitter account for some harsh comments from lombardi on the whole fraser/brule situation

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#59 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:34PM
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DJ Dynasty Handbag wrote:

check out @helenenothelen twitter account for some harsh comments from lombardi on the whole fraser/brule situation

...can you copy paste the twitter world here?

i'd love to hear Lombardi's take on all THAT!!!

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#60 DJ Dynasty Handbag
July 08 2011, 06:37PM
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Kings GM Dean Lombardi says club will "look at our legal avenues" regarding Colin Fraser's injuries and inability to play following trade

Lombardi says Oilers told him Fraser would be cleared to play after foot fracture but Kings' docs found fracture, cyst and blood disorder

Says Fraser needs surgery. 'he's not anywhere near being cleared to play according to our doctors and in fact is going to need surgery

this came after Kings determined Brule wasn't procedurally cleared to play and took Fraser instead. says cyst, blood disorder not disclosed

more lombardi: "The bottom line for me, I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton's word."

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#61 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:39PM
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DJ Dynasty Handbag wrote:

Kings GM Dean Lombardi says club will "look at our legal avenues" regarding Colin Fraser's injuries and inability to play following trade

Lombardi says Oilers told him Fraser would be cleared to play after foot fracture but Kings' docs found fracture, cyst and blood disorder

Says Fraser needs surgery. 'he's not anywhere near being cleared to play according to our doctors and in fact is going to need surgery

this came after Kings determined Brule wasn't procedurally cleared to play and took Fraser instead. says cyst, blood disorder not disclosed

more lombardi: "The bottom line for me, I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton's word."

...them's fightin' words

thankyou muchly DJ

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#63 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:42PM
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...these quotes...they are replete with a horrific Bernie Madoff blast...

...oh my there's gonna be a sh*tstorm

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#64 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:43PM
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...how big ARE Mr.Tambellini's balls ?

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#65 DJ Dynasty Handbag
July 08 2011, 06:44PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Nothing up on the LA Times site yet in terms of a story, but I'm thinking we'll see one pretty soon.

i'm quite interested in seeing how the oilers respond to this. you would think they'd have to respond to this rather quickly.

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#66 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:46PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Nothing up on the LA Times site yet in terms of a story, but I'm thinking we'll see one pretty soon.

...i bet brownlee's on the phone

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#67 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 06:56PM
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... hello Kevin it's Robin Brownlee...hey Robin howya doin' ..i'm good Kevin just wanted to know if you'd care to comment on L.A.'s GM Lombardi's statement with regard to the whole Fraser Brule matter...how so Robin ...well Kevin he's quoted as saying he'd ...and i'm para-phrasing now ...he said,"... I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton's word...."

there's trouble obviously ... there's silence ... "well Robin...i dunno ... is this on the record?..."

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#68 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 07:09PM
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...or is it Mr.Tambellini he's calling ?

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#69 Quicksilver ballet
July 08 2011, 07:20PM
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Pretty sure we heard Lambo used these same words about a week and a half ago, maybe they just got the internet working in California again.

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#70 Tiago DaSilva
July 08 2011, 07:23PM
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I'm not from Canada neither from Edmonton but I really love Oilers. This year I don't lost a game. I saw all 82 games but Oilers games in Portugal begin very late by the night but I keep waked up all night to saw the entire game even if they are losing by a big margin. Sometimes I only sleep 2 hours!. Oilers deserve that efford My dream is be in Edmonton to cheer for the Oilers.

I am a trully Oilers fan!

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#71 OilerLand
July 08 2011, 08:06PM
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Get ready folks, the glory days are comin' back. Bigger and better than ever.

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#72 pelhem grenville
July 08 2011, 09:27PM
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Tiago DaSilva wrote:

I'm not from Canada neither from Edmonton but I really love Oilers. This year I don't lost a game. I saw all 82 games but Oilers games in Portugal begin very late by the night but I keep waked up all night to saw the entire game even if they are losing by a big margin. Sometimes I only sleep 2 hours!. Oilers deserve that efford My dream is be in Edmonton to cheer for the Oilers.

I am a trully Oilers fan!

...tiago? you for real ????

an Oilers fan in freakin' Portugal???

just heard your currency / money was just made junk ..WHAT IS UP with that TiagO????

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#73 justDOit
July 08 2011, 10:08PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...tiago? you for real ????

an Oilers fan in freakin' Portugal???

just heard your currency / money was just made junk ..WHAT IS UP with that TiagO????

I haven't heard about their currency problems yet, but there's a lot of that going around Europe right now - not just Portugal's problem, but a big problem nonetheless. Iceland, Ireland, Greece...

Good luck with it, and I hope we don't catch that cold.

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#74 Dog Train
July 08 2011, 10:47PM
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Amen. Passion is certainly not a problem in Oil Country. It will be sweet when our loyalty is finally rewarded!

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#75 justDOit
July 08 2011, 11:04PM
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Dog Train wrote:

Amen. Passion is certainly not a problem in Oil Country. It will be sweet when our loyalty is finally rewarded!

Amen to that amen!

It would also be nice to see the more rabid fans ease up on the whipping boys. Gilbert is not soft, and Horcoff didn't sit out of training camp and demand that contract.

Peace, love and Oilers be with you!

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#76 Tiago DaSilva
July 09 2011, 05:37AM
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@pelhem grenville

Yes I'm real and I cheer more for the Oilers than for my soccer team who is Portuguese champion and Europe League winner.

Is true, in Portugal we are living in a big economical crisis and will be for a long time sadly. One company named Moody's decided to rate Portugal at the level of junk. With that rating Portugal is viewed like an country that financial groups can't trust. It's gonna be hard to live in Portugal during many years

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#77 Aendayana
July 09 2011, 03:36PM
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Tiago DaSilva wrote:

Yes I'm real and I cheer more for the Oilers than for my soccer team who is Portuguese champion and Europe League winner.

Is true, in Portugal we are living in a big economical crisis and will be for a long time sadly. One company named Moody's decided to rate Portugal at the level of junk. With that rating Portugal is viewed like an country that financial groups can't trust. It's gonna be hard to live in Portugal during many years

Porto or Benfica Tiago?

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#78 Zamboni Driver
July 09 2011, 05:59PM
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Not to be Mr. Negative, but...

If you are not getting

PAID to watch the "hockey" this week in Sherwood Park...

What you're doing is taking a week of phenomenal weather...

and going INDOORS

To watch teenage boys skate around in circles.

you might

MIGHT

want to check yourself. Because in all these other communities people are badmouthing, people that were watching said teenagers would be called

Stalkers

(at best).

It's called outside. Think about it.

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#80 Zamboni Driver
July 09 2011, 06:54PM
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@Robin Brownlee

you're over thinking it Robin.

I only meant "think about going outside" on a 28C day in July instead of stalking teenagers at a rink in Sherwood Park.

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#81 Zamboni Driver
July 09 2011, 06:54PM
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@Robin Brownlee

you're over thinking it Robin.

I only meant "think about going outside" on a 28C day in July instead of stalking teenagers at a rink in Sherwood Park.

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#83 Zamboni Driver
July 09 2011, 07:02PM
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@Robin Brownlee

An attempt at irony or I suppose hyperbole.

Apparently I missed.

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#84 flyin ryan
July 09 2011, 10:44PM
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Hit the nail on the head with article Robin....

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#85 Tiago DaSilva
July 10 2011, 06:44AM
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@Aendayana

Porto of course. FC Porto is actualy the 3rd best team in the world based on IFFHS ranking

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#86 positivebrontefan
July 11 2011, 01:17PM
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freeze wrote:

what's with all the d.p.'s?

That's what she said...

Nice fun article Robin. I love this cities passion for sport in general. We always seem to rise to the occasion when it matters.

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