Tomorrow is your playoffs Oiler fans! In case you haven’t noticed, the Oilers won’t make the playoffs for the 4th consecutive season, and are on pace to get their highest draft choice ever.
Some of you have started to waver in your enthusiasm and loyalty for the Copper and Blue — which is understandable — but if there was ever a time to muster up the internal fortitude to watch one more game, it’s tomorrow.
I’m not an Oiler fan. I don’t get to ride the emotional highs and lows like I did before I got into the media, but the one aspect that has never left me is that I can’t stand the Flames. I grew up despising them, and that hasn’t changed.
Games like tomorrow are the few times where I can say that I actually care if the Oilers win. My buddy, Boris (his nickname, because he doesn’t deserve to have his real name written here) lives in Cowtown and is a die-hard Flames fan. Even though he knows I’m not a true Oiler fan anymore, he has been sending me crap emails or lame texts mocking the state of this franchise for four years.
While his ripping of the Oilers doesn’t bother me, having to put up with his constant dribble annoys me more than those dorks who stand up on the plane the minute it lands and rush to the front. I will watch tomorrow and pray to the hockey gods that the losers of 12 in a row can avoid making it a baker’s dozen.
If there was ever a game the Oilers needed to win it is tomorrow night. Not just for their sake, but, selfishly for my own and for every Oiler fan. The “Thirst for First” can be put on hold for one night. And really the way the Oilers are playing is there any doubt they won’t be there come April 15th.
Tomorrow night my disdain for Calgary will shine through. Listening to them snivel and whine after a tenth straight loss would make my weekend, and I’m guessing many of you could use a pick me up after an Oiler game.
Oiler fans have reached the conclusion that this year is now about the highest draft pick, and watching games doesn’t bring the same anger, joy, frustration, excitement, angst that you normally feel. You’ve become almost numb to the losing. It barely hurts anymore.
Tomorrow’s game will either be the death blow, ending the longest January of any Oiler fans live or it will just be another chapter in what has become the most challenging time to remain an Oiler fan. How the hell does a team go an entire month without a win? A win tomorrow night won’t salvage the month or the season, but it will allow Oiler fans to remember what a win feels like.
Sure it is hard on the players, but it might be just as hard on the fans; if not harder. When you play at least you have a say in the outcome. Watching means you cheer while never losing the feeling of helplessness that you really can’t change the outcome. That feeling can eat away at the best of fans.
Last night at Rexall Place I heard and saw too many fans leaving with nary an emotion showing on their face. They’ve almost become robotic to the losing; scared to invest any emotion into the game, because the outcome seems automatic. Another loss.
Tomorrow might be the last time this season that you as a fan can really “get up” for a game. You know the routine. Stock the fridge in the afternoon, take a nap at four, wake up at five-thirty and watch Grapes spew something that doesn’t really interest you, yet his suit keeps you entertained. Then you order pizza, or make the trek to a buddy’s house or a local establishment like The Pint.
You start to ease your nervousness with a beer or hard liquor and get set for what is the likely to be the last game this season that youinvest real emotion while watching.
I have to call the Rush game v. the Roughnecks (another Battle of Alberta that Edmonton the City could use to boost morale) tomorrow night at five but I’ve got a table reserved at the Pint for 8:00. I will plant my ass down and ensure our fine waitress keeps the bevies coming on a constant pace.
I miss the feeling of excitement before a game. The Dolphins are my team, and outside of last year’s great 11-5 season I haven’t had much to cheer about. For one night I plan to return to my roots of a diehard Oiler fan. Cursing when Grebeshkov inevitably gives the puck away, or Souray misses the net by ten feet, or when Pouliot decides that finishing a check isn’t in his contract. And I will high-five my boys when the Oilers score, and get revved up when a fight occurs. There better be a few tilts tomorrow or neither team deserves to play in a Battle of Alberta again.
After tomorrow, I will go back to covering the games with little emotion, and the only time I will become a true fan again is when the Oilers and Flames meet in the playoffs. Don’t laugh, it could happen….someday.
Tomorrow night could be the last meaningful game of the season for Oiler fans. It won’t mean much in the standings, because Carolina is starting to separate from the Oilers, but it could keep the pride of Oiler fans intact until the Olympics grab your heart.