August 10 2012 08:39AM
Remember the indignation at hockey websites like this one when The Hockey News projected the Edmonton Oilers to finish dead-last in the Western Conference a few seasons ago? Me, too. And today?
August 10 2012 07:49AM
Alain Vigneault (Canucks Hockey Blog/Wikimedia Commons/CC by 2.0)
Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has for a few years now been employing his fourth line in an unconventional manner: he uses them as defensive zone specialists. That should be of interest to the Oilers because at first glance it appears they have the necessary personnel to imitate that strategy.
August 09 2012 01:46PM
I was only six years old when the NHL saw its first significant labour disruption in 1992, and to be honest, I had forgotten that it had happened at all. Having read Bruce Dowbiggin's Money Players, however, the story seems suddenly relevant.
August 09 2012 09:34AM
Since making his debut as an Oiler on March 5th, 2010, Ryan Whitney has eight goals and 58 points In 105 games. He had tallied 38 points in his first 54 games, before injuring his ankle December 28th against Buffalo. He then missed 78 of the next 129 games with a variety of ankle/foot issues.
Whitney was able to play the final 34 games last season, but it was clear he'd lost some footspeed. He was frustrated, but he admitted that in those final few games he was finally pain free. His injury wasn't hampering his speed, or lack thereof, his leg strength was.
Due to his injury in December of 2010, Whitney hadn't been able to do any off-season training heading in the summer of 2011. It was obvious on the ice that he had no explosiveness, but when the Oilers packed their bags this past April Whitney was in a surprisingly good mood. He told me he was looking forward to finally being able to work out, and he was determined a solid summer of training would allow him to rediscover his game.
August 09 2012 07:27AM
Wayne Gretzky was so good none of the words in the dictionary do him justice. "The Great One" is miles from the truth and yet that moniker is the one that has lasted forever. As good as he was, and as much as we knew about the importance of money (or lack thereof), the trading of Wayne Gretzky was a stunning moment in Edmonton history. For an Oiler fan it was kind of like, and exactly like, falling off a cliff.
August 9, 1988: Wayne Gretzky is traded to Los Angeles by Edmonton with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, Los Angeles' 1st round choices in 1989 (later traded to New Jersey - New Jersey selected Jason Miller), 1991 (Martin Rucinsky) and 1993 (Nick Stajduhar) Entry Drafts and cash.
Cash. Whenever anyone tries to tell you it was a hockey deal, please remember that last word. Cash.
I never found a way to cheer against 99, even when the Kings were beating my own beloved Oilers. The guy had done so much, was so far beyond anyone who had come before, he had become an icon and other-worldy by the time of the trade. I well remember the stories of Slats saying that Wayne just had to say the word and the deal was dead, and another story that Sather wouldn't approve the "sale" without players coming back to Edmonton.
The press conference remains one of the truly incredible moments in Oilers history. Wayne crying, grim Oiler men and Peter Pocklington looking for all the world like a 10-year old who'd broken his neighbour's window and was about to catch colossal shit.
It was a harsh lesson for Oiler fans. The fans can cheer, yell, scream, drink, get angry and walk their seaon's tickets, but they are far from the decision making process. Having said that, no one knew better what that trade meant to the Oilers. The club--despite winning a Stanley without him--was never the same.
WHERE WERE YOU?
Paulina Gretzky was a distant bell that day, and for Wayne Gretzky it probably took something like being a parent to surpass the emotion of being sold to Los Angeles.
I was on holidays the day of the trade, in the USA where hockey coverage in January sucks let alone August. The fame of 99 was so big he made the front page in Seattle, and I honestly didn't believe it even when reading the paper.
Seriously. Reading it in the newspaper and still not really getting it.
Where were you on that fateful day? My guess is many of you weren't even around or were very young at the time. I'd still like to hear what you have been told from family and friends about the day Wayne was sold to the Kings.