EVERY CHANGE MATTERS...

Jason Gregor
December 30 2013 01:55PM

The past eight Oilers seasons have been painful for everyone involved. The players are sick of losing, management and the five head coaches are tired of it, the fans have to give each other a pep talk before every game just to keep watching and even the media is tired of covering the constant losing.

There are some things none of the aforementioned groups can change instantly, like suddenly making the Oilers contenders, however, there are some small things that can and must be changed to make the process more bearable.

We can all agree what needs to change in the near future for the Oilers to become competitive. They need a better blueline, they need more size and experience up front, the players who return next seasons need to be more consistent and competitive on every shift, and the Oilers must add more experience within their assistant coaches.

Ultimately, those moves or decisions will be made by Craig MacTavish and Dallas Eakins. We will debate, analyze and scrutinize their decisions. That is our job, and it's what fans love to do and that is what makes sports great.

Every fan and media person will have differing opinions on players and how organizations build their teams. That will never change; however, there are some decisions within a pro team that fans can impact. One of them is the music played at their home facility.

The Edmonton Oilers owe it to their loyal fans to make the in-game experience as enjoyable as possible. The product on the ice hasn't been doing it, but the fans can demand and should be treated to a better in-house atmosphere.

The music during Saturday's OT loss to Philadelphia was atrocious.

I watched the game from the stands, and I asked the fans around their thoughts on the horrendous playlist? These fans ranged in age from 20 to 60, yet unanimously they agreed the music is awful. This is not a new problem, but the Oilers either don't feel the fans deserve a better experience or they haven't searched hard enough to find a better DJ.

Late in the third period and leading into OT the DJ played Give Me Some Loving, a Beatles song and Wooly Bully. The Beatles are one of the greatest bands ever, but their beats aren't energizing. I could not believe how bad the song selection was late in a tie hockey game. None of those songs got the building rocking. Seriously, it shouldn't be that hard to find more appropriate songs during key times in the game.

The fans deserve better, and so do the players. I spoke to three different players off the record and when I asked them about the music they said the following:

"It is embarrassing," said the first one.

"Most rinks play heavy, deep, quick paced music, but we rarely do," said the second.

"My friends come to games here and they all mention the music, and not because it is good," said the third.

If the Oilers don't want to listen to the fans, they shouldn't they at least listen to their players?

I know the music isn't the reason the Oilers are losing, and none of the players suggested that, but the Oilers need to look at improving every aspect of their team and in-game experience. Emotion plays a huge factor in hockey, and a better playlist could get the fans more into the game, thus improving the atmosphere and that could ignite the Oilers at certain times in the game.

Regardless of whether it helps the Oilers or not, the fans deserve better. I am a season ticket holder, so I'm not writing this from a media person's perspective. I've been to many other rinks around the NHL and the music and in-game experience is better in those rinks. The music selection in Edmonton if brutal.

I don't expect the management or scouts to listen attentively to media or fan's opinions on players, although getting as much info as possible is never a bad thing, however I do expect the organization to listen to fans when it comes to non-hockey matters.

It is time the Oilers improve the in-game ambiance. It is the least they can do for their loyal fans, and considering the players admit the music is terrible, an improved musical selection might even help the product on the ice.

QUICK HITS...2ND HALF

  •  The Oilers were 4-15-2 in the first quarter of the season and 9-9-2 in the 2nd quarter. They aren't as bad as they were in the first quarter, but they need to at least maintain a 20 points in 20-game stretch pace the rest of the season. If they pick up 43-46 points in the second half that would be a major improvement, and they need to come close to that to realize the effort and execution necessary to be in the playoff hunt next season.
     
  • Nail Yakupov won't play tomorrow in Phoenix. Yak looked frustrated on Saturday night, and I'm all for sending players a message by putting them in the pressbox, but is Yakupov receiving the message and is it the right one? If they want him to regain his confidence would they be better off sending him to OKC than sitting him in the pressbox?

    I understand that all players mature differently, but playing him six to eight minutes a night or sitting him in the pressbox might not be the best way to develop him. Make a tough decision and send him to OKC for a few weeks. In my opinion he needs to play 15-20 minutes a night and regain his confidence.

    I know many fans are going to scream they are ruining Yakupov, but the harsh reality is he will need to play himself out of it. Missing a game or two won't hamper his long term development, but they need to find some common ground. If they want him to be better away from the puck, then let him learn to do that in the AHL where it will be easier to learn. That isn't quitting on the player or punishing him, it is about trying to help him become a better player.
     
  • "It was a good conversation... We have a definite plan moving forward," Eakins said this morning about a 45-minute chat he had with Yakupov. He didn't outline what the plan was, but I'm curious to see what it will be. The Oilers don't need to just give Yakupov icetime, but they have to ensure they nurture his development and not ruin his confidence. It is a fine balance, but it is one they have to master. He isn't the first #1 overall pick to be benched or play on the 4th line. Steven Stamkos and Joe Thornton did and both became great players, however, they were 18 and didn't have the option of being sent to the AHL. 

    Will the plan see Yakupov playing on the 4th line at ES and then getting PP time? That would allow him to see easier competition at ES, but also allow him to maintain some offensive confidence. I doubt he sits out more than one or two games, and when he returns I'll be intrigued to see what "plan" Eakins has come up with for Yakupov.
     
  • I know it is only a few games, but Justin Schultz has been better the past three games. He is making better decisions with the puck, and more importantly he is making better defensive decisions. His positioning has been better and I haven't seen him getting beat one-on-one. It is a small sample size, but he needs to continue his improvement during the 2nd half of the season. He's only played 81 NHL games, so people need to recognize that it takes time for young, offensive D-men to get comfortable in the NHL, however, the Oilers desperately need Schultz to develop into a solid top-three D-man if they want to become a playoff contender in the near future.
     
  • Roman Horak will make his Oiler debut tomorrow night on a line with Gagner and Eberle. Todd Nelson told me he thinks Horak has potential to be a solid 3rd line centre, and potentially a 2nd line forward if he learns to use his speed regularly.
     
  • I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all the sponsors who donated packages during Month of Giving, and to all those who bid on packages. This year we raised an amazing $77,150 for the Christmas Bureau, Santas Anonymous, Operation Friendship Senior Society and MS Society during the Month of Giving on my radio show and promoting the packages on the Nation. That is awesome. Thanks again.
     

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Rick Stroppel
December 30 2013, 07:30PM
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THESE GUYS HAVE GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT

I heard Pat Laforge interviewed by Jason Gregor on the radio this afternoon. I think I heard most of the interview. In my opinion, Laforge was prickly, sarcastic and dismissive. He kept on saying they have certain "obligations" to fulfill during the game, as if this had anything to do with the choice of music. When Gregor made a positive suggestion, he sarcastically described it as "brilliant". He minimized the complaints by saying that people are only upset because the team isn't winning. He admitted that the people who were in charge of the music made some big mistakes in the last game. Jason asked whether there would be consequences. Laforge sarcastically replied, "what happens to you when you make a mistake, Jason?".

Now it is my turn to be sarcastic. Lowe, McTavish and Laforge think they got together and invented professional hockey in 2006. They have dislocated their shoulders from patting themselves on the back. There is a profound arrogance that infects this organization from top to bottom. They strut around as if they are responsible for some kind of hockey dynasty. For many years the media in this city have been pandering to them. I think that is finally changing. It's not like we have a choice. NHL is the only major league show in town, and hockey is in our DNA. This team simply is not interested in treating fans with respect.

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#2 Dirx
December 30 2013, 02:42PM
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The music is garbage, the cheerleaders are awful and the team is brutal. Seeing how the cheerleaders and team won't be better anytime soon we may as well have some decent music to listen to while we drink our sorrows away at Rexall...

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#3 risto siltanen's slapshot
December 30 2013, 06:35PM
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what would happen @ rexall if they played "we're not gonna take it?"

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#4 RexHolez
December 30 2013, 02:34PM
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Hey, you know that kid we took 1st overall And lead our team in goals last year? Lets demand he becomes a checking winger and bench him! He's not good enough to play on this powerhouse team!

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#5 camdog
December 30 2013, 03:22PM
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Honest question here folks, if they can't get something as simple as the music right at the games, how can we expect them to put together a Stanley Cup winning team?

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#6 SmythsMullet
December 30 2013, 05:47PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong but if my memory serves me right. Rexall played motley crues "wildside" on the opening faceoff in 2006. And that team knew a little about winning of there's ever a concern

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#7 Aussie Oiler
December 30 2013, 03:16PM
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Gregor, does this mean they should play more Cotton Eye Joe?

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#8 hallsyoilerforever5
December 30 2013, 02:01PM
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Can the DJ please get replaced and can they please change our goal song? Pitbull seriously? I get a buzzkill after hearing it, when the oilers score and the goal horn goes off.

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#9 Ducey
December 30 2013, 02:24PM
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Nice work on the Fundraising Gregor!

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#10 David S
December 30 2013, 02:18PM
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I was at an NBA game last week and the difference was shocking. Hi-tempo music at every break (and they have ALOT of breaks in the NBA), smoking hot cheer squad (unbelievable!) and pretty much every non-game second is packed with entertainment to keep the crowd jacked.

By comparison an Oilers game is like going to church.*

*Not that I actually know what going to church is like

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#11 Alsker
December 30 2013, 02:09PM
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I'm sure other people have mentioned Yak cannot go to OKC because of his age/games played. It was back to jr or NHL. If OKC is an option, then why in heck is he still here? It would help his game and get him away from this 6ring circus.

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#12 Czar
December 30 2013, 05:40PM
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Metallica and AC/DC could get the crowd going and Charlie Huddy behind the bench would be an improvement.

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#13 OilClog
December 30 2013, 06:25PM
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So we don't have a better option to play along side Gagner and Ebs then Horvat? Give me a break, this is crap.

What is Yakupov suppose to do with Lander and Gazdic? Gets a shift with Hall, scores a goal. Ridiculous.

Why is Perron on the right side? Why hasn't he been as noticeable lately? How about putting him back into position along Nuge and Ebs. Allowing Hall and Yakupov to continue their chemistry.. Wait! Let's play Joenssu! No no no.. Let's call up Horvat!

Good Lord.

And Justin Schultz has been struggling. It's ugly. But playing with Nick "dead puck" Schultz isn't going to help anyone.

This team should keep trying cross ice passes at a stand still. It's beautiful.

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#14 nick
December 30 2013, 02:38PM
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Yes that is what the Oilers need on their 3rd line is a small centre iceman like Roman Horak. That will solve their size problems. Once again the Oilers picked up a player they have tons of already.

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#15 Cain
December 30 2013, 03:21PM
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Change the music? Change the music? Now THAT would be BOLD!!! Maybe we better re-hire Moog or Muni to study the situation before we just start changing out all the old albums for those new-fangled CD things.

Those old songs were good enough in the 80's so why should we change them now.I mean, it used to work, so why shouldn't it work nowadays,let's not start taking chances on changing things up.Right Klowe???

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#16 Stewzy
December 30 2013, 03:38PM
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HAHA this is great. I was at the Flyers game and said the EXACTLY SAME THING to my wife about the music, "embarrassing". I was also at the game in Calgary the night before and Calgary's playlist had some jump in it. I'm only 26 and was a DJ for the better part of my adult life. The music they play in the rink on saturday was out right embarrassing and weak. Play some heavy energizing electro-house remixes of some popular songs at least. Something with some kick and life to it! I would even prefer dub step and trap to nickle back and some old song from the 60's.

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#17 spliff
December 30 2013, 07:44PM
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Last year with Krueger was the first year in a long time that progress was made. PP and PK were much better, and the team's position in the standings improved. I'm not sure what reasoning MacT has used to replace Krueger, and in hindsight, it might have been the most stupid move MacT has made as GM. I don't think Eakins is a bad coach, but perhaps this team would have been better served with the stability of another year of Ralph. Its another example of this management group "thinking outside the box" when what they should be doing is keeping it simple.

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#18 Sliderule
December 30 2013, 05:25PM
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Shultz Jr has been better?

What game are you watching .Fumbling the puck on PP,waving his stick in corners and stickchecking in front of net.

Give me a break.

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#19 Serious Gord
December 30 2013, 07:08PM
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Rumour has it that the music manager for the games is a old university friend of Daryl Katz...

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#20 Fresh Mess
December 30 2013, 08:44PM
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They should play Benny Hill or Keystone Cops music. The music from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" would also be fitting.

Maybe add in some toilet-flush or flatulence sound effects..

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#21 Dman
December 30 2013, 02:14PM
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Call up DJ Suitcase and put our regular guy in the pressbox

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#22 Spydyr
December 30 2013, 05:51PM
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So it has come to this.Who would of thought all along it was the musics fault.

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#23 Bad Tunes
December 30 2013, 02:09PM
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I too was complaining about the music on Sat night. The 12 year old girl next to me disagreed. I guess that is now the target audience??

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#24 Duchess
December 30 2013, 02:32PM
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I know it has been mentioned before, but wouldn't it be cool if the players got to choose their own goal songs?

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#26 Rotten Ron
December 30 2013, 05:52PM
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I was in Dallas on business a couple of years agoand was asked to go to a Mavericks game. I'm not a basketball fan but went and was amazed at how they entertained there, mark cuban runs a good show.Im fairly reserved at games myself but they had the fans in a frensy all night . Allot of stuff geared towards kids but it was an atmosphere like a game 7. There was 2 or 3 things going on at time, upbeat music. A nice change from the misfiring tshirt shooter or cheer for the car lame game. oilers games I do my best to ignore the crap going on between plays because its basically the same since about 1993. I would also prefer they bring back the cfcw coyote with a puck on a string to the 4's and 5's they are passing off as cheerleaders.

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#27 Freewheeling Freddie
December 30 2013, 02:51PM
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If this is the music they will play get rid of it entirely. Bring back a old fashioned organ player. It worked in slapshot. The inhouse entertainment has become very stale and boring. Cheerleaders at hockey games No Thanks. Now if they were like the old Chicago Honeybears then that might be a different story. The Oilers need to have a complete overhaul in the game experience department

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#28 Kr55
December 30 2013, 04:15PM
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People have complained about the music for years. The person controlling it is probably another untouchable like Lowe/MacT/Buchy/Smith.

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#29 Merle Eberle
December 30 2013, 08:48PM
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Tambellini must be relieved he was relieved of this gong-show of a circus organization.

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#30 Constance
December 31 2013, 08:28AM
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Hey Gregor. Awesome job! You really set Patrick laforge straight. Sure the teams going to hell, 14 games under 500 or whatever, they're healthy scratching yak while gagner and co ramp up huge minutes. Sure "winner" Kevin Lowe continues to make big bucks as president of hockey operations, Bucky and Steve smith continue to suck it up as assistant coaches, the power play is worse than it is under the coach they fired after 40 games... But you got that music fixed!! Awesome! Sarcasm over... Can we get a guy on the radio in Edmonton who will talk actual issues. No one at ched will do it, and even the non rights holder is all unicorns and love in's. It's actually quite annoying. In our 8th year of losing, any other town and the media would be running management out of town and questioning coaching decisions. Here they're talking about changing music selections and getting excited about nurse and klefbom. All this after your article last week about staying patient and the Oilers following the path of the penguins and hawks lol. so yak gets benched after playing like 5 minutes, 3 games in a row and that makes sense to you? Why am I not suprised. how did they evaluate him in those five minutes of playing time? eakins could wear a thong on the bench and Gregor would say, awesome idea!! The fans may not like that thong, but it makes sense to me. Anyhow, I'll slow this rant down to say the Edmonton sports media is communist era eastern Europe.

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#31 Fresh Mess
December 30 2013, 08:04PM
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I'm guessing Katz' kid is picking the music.

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#32 crobar
December 30 2013, 03:34PM
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the music is brutal. the sky is blue. no kidding!! i mean "private eyes" in the room?? wtf?? gimme a break!! what kind of state does this put a player in? it shows the nature of guys on the team. let's get a little judas priest united or something a little more ballzy in there. cmon already, it's quite obvious that there is a pansy attitude in this room!! eakins has them eating veggies and dip, meanwhile, where is the testosterone? they need to get some george foreman grills in the lunch room me thinks......

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#33 risto siltanen's slapshot
December 30 2013, 06:32PM
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@OilClog

no different than the past when we used to call up a forward , play him with buchberger and wonder why he doesn't score like he used to? you're right on when you say we should play skill with skill. how good was hemsky playing with horcoff? not a superstar and yet we could see potential.keep playing yak with crap and you'll end up with another hemsky.

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#34 Space Dad
December 30 2013, 03:14PM
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I've often wondered how fans in Montreal are able to create such a crazy atmosphere in the Bell Centre. Regardless of the strength or weakness of their team in any given year, that place rocks with intensity.

By comparison, the atmosphere in Rexall is funeral. The 2006 Playoff Run proved that Oiler fans are among the loudest in the league... but since then that barn has been relatively silent.

Yes, its up to the players to give us something to cheer for, but I wonder if the Oilers would show more pride and dignity in doing their thing, if we as their fans would hold them to it with our own pride and intensity.

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#35 Byks
December 30 2013, 04:08PM
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From the start of warmup to the end of the game, the music at Rexall is awful.

I wish this wasn't a true story, but a few years back there was a pretty decent scrap, and what do you think the DJ played? "So What" by Pink. If I wasn't there I wouldn't have believed it.

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#36 JJ
December 30 2013, 04:49PM
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About the music.. It's about time they get rid of that ****ing bull**** goalsong. Pitbull? Seriously? Whoever decided that should be ashamed of themselves.

Why do hockey games have so many songs or organs in it anyway. What's wrong with having a natural atmosphere instead of trying to artificially create one.

More garbage off-ice to go along with the garbage on-ice, I suppose. If only it was more like Montreal or Winnipeg.

You know what else I hate? Goalhorns that go on for 30 seconds to a minute long. 3-5 seconds is fine, but every rink seems to blast it to the point of being excessive and irritating.

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#37 Brian Two Tier
December 30 2013, 06:50PM
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Being a Lowe class cable watcher, I'm wondering if they still play "Cotten Eye Joe" and if that bald dude dances up and down a set of stairs in the lower bowl. That guy was the best. Wait , maybe that was Gregor? Anyway, he was great.

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#38 He Who Knows
December 30 2013, 04:53PM
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This organization is a complete joke. The sad truth is that Katz will never understand how badly run his team is from top to bottom. They cannot get anything right. Mac T spitting some Soviet Union propaganda on Fat Bob's show last week was the biggest slap to the knowledgeable fan in this town. They think we are all a bunch of sheep. And as always, Kevin Lowe blows.

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#39 Alsker
December 30 2013, 07:39PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Yakupov is 20, he can go to OKC this year. Couldn't go down last year.

Excellent, then there shouldn't be any question as to what the Oil should do. I'm sure coach Nelson and the AHL game speed would benefit Yak immensely. This season's lost and Yak would probably play 1st line minutes and PP opportunities in OKC.

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#40 Ted Sheckler
December 30 2013, 08:08PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

I'm guessing Katz' kid is picking the music.

Not likely. He's busy cashing all his royalty checks he's pulling in from staring as the kid in Bad Santa. They played that almost as much as Elf this year.

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#41 Saytalk
December 30 2013, 08:09PM
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So what's the next topic? How the popcorn doesn't have enough butter on it? Anything to avoid calling out this abysmal team ay Gregor.

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#42 RexHolez
December 30 2013, 10:39PM
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@Soccer Steve

You mean 2018?

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#43 Dallylamma
December 31 2013, 09:04AM
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While we're changing the in game experience how about some better food at Rexall? We all gladly down $9 heroin beers but the other staples like cheeseburgers and fries are f'n weak. How about a little more value for money Northlands?

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#44 Oilerz4life
December 30 2013, 01:59PM
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What about Heartbreaker by the Rolling Stones?

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#45 Micbilly99
December 30 2013, 02:19PM
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Are you seriously talking about the music again? That's like talking about the stale popcorn or the flat beer! Who cares! The music is not the problem. If the Oiler management put a product on the ice that is worth watching you would not care what kind of music they played. Play chopsticks over the PA, I don't care. The Oilers need to start with a better on ice product first once that is done, then you can complain about the playlist....until then put on headphones and listen to your Ipod!

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#46 Taylor Gang
December 30 2013, 02:34PM
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Best Oilers goal song ever: Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation

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#47 Mr common sense
December 30 2013, 03:28PM
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Trade/sign Steve Ott

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#48 junior
December 30 2013, 04:18PM
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Pouzar99 wrote:

Yes, the music is awful, but even if it was good do we have to hear it at ear-splitting volume every second in which the play is not on? I like to talk to my pals and the other season ticket holders around me during the ice-cleaning breaks and between whistles and we have to scream at each other to be heard. Are the fans such zombies that they will doze off or get bored if they are not beaten with pounding moment every second? And by the way, Octane is an embarrassment as well.

Hey Dad! I told you that you'd like this forum.

Remember you and your friends can chat about the "Old Country" after the game.

During the game, you guys can just turn down the volume on those darn hearing aids when the music gets gets ear-splitting.

These nice people are talking about increasing the experience at a hockey game, not catching up with your buddies on the sales price of beer at the lodge on Friday.

Love ya Dad!

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#49 Lee Fogolin
December 30 2013, 06:06PM
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Play Brass Bonanza after each goal... the Oilers are the modern day equivalent of the Hartford Whalers anyways.

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#50 Rod from Viking
December 31 2013, 10:58AM
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@Jason Gregor I finally got a chance to listen to your discussion with Pat Laforge last night, he sure was defensive and condescending,it sure seems to be a job requirement of the Oilers. I also am a season ticket holder and the music and the "ambiance" does suck and to say the music seems better in Chicago because the team is better is just a dumb comment.The music selection in Edmonton is brutal and I know my daughter or even my mother could do a better job. Who owns Aquila Productions anyway, another one of the buddies from the 80's?

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