Long May You Run

It is very important to pay close attention to the 2010-11 Edmonton Oilers. Savor the moments, take strong mental notes. Make sure those images will last a lifetime.

We’ve been through some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run. Long may you run.
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining in the sun
Long may you run.

-Neil Young

I was a Boston Bruins fan before the Alberta Oilers rolled into my part of the world (small town Saskatchewan). I remember listening to the transistor radio and the stories of the new league "raiding" the NHL. Everyone was "jumping" or "jumping back" and honestly I wasn’t aware of many names signed by that first team. All of us knew Al Hamilton and Jim Harrison, and many other fans knew about Ross Perkins and Rusty Patenaude and the others. We’d get to know Patenaude well, listening to the radio back then it was impossible to miss him (Patenaude scored 159 WHA goals) and many others along the way. Bill Flett, Frank Beaton, Dave Dryden, Brett Callighen, and true legends like Normie Ullman and Jacques Plante.

EVERYONE knew that entry into the NHL meant the big time, the ultimate show. That first training camp meant all kinds of changes (the Oilers would get all of their draft picks signed, EDMONTON appeared under NHL TEAMS in the Hockey News every week) and we knew national media men like Frank Orr were following the Oilers and writing stories about them (Orr picked the Oilers to finish 5 out of 6 in the Smythe, 79-80). Jim Matheson was the Edmonton expert, he suggested Edmonton would finish 3rd of 6 (Oilers would split the difference and wind up 4th).

I remember the anger when finding out Bengt Gustafsson had been awarded to Washington (the NHL "rules" were as vague then as they are now) and felt pure joy the first time Gretzky visited Maple Leaf Gardens (it was golden). I remember 99 not winning the Calder and hoping Cam Connor would get healthy and the heartbreak that was trading Ron Chipperfield.

Risto’s shot from the point, Dave Hunter taking penalties before the end of the period (Sather benched him for it), Gretzky-to-MacDonald, the sheer power of the not-yet-grown-to-maturity-but-still-a-load Mark Messier. Kevin Lowe learning the trade quickly on the blue, heart and soul Lee Fogolin and Pat Price always a little aloof despite the skill. All the goalies before Ron Low arrived to settle everything down and Dave Lumley’s playoff goal.

79-80. Of the 40 men who skated in Oiler colors that season, I can probably tell you a credible story about 30 of them. I bet there are many Oiler fans who could do better than that, as this town loves their Oilers and the game of hockey. About half a dozen were still around when the Stanley’s came, and many were lost along the way. Callighen’s career went sideways courtesy an accidental stick from Brad McCrimmon, Don Ashby was lost in a crash and Blair MacDonald lost a battle he had no chance to win.

So take it from an old guy: enjoy this, and don’t miss a minute. When training camp opens, be there if you can. Even today’s media conference to announce the numbers, or the rookie camp this weekend. When the boss offers tickets this winter, grab them and hold on to your hat. And don’t get caught up in "well these are nose bleed tickets" crap: Wayne Gretzky taught me a lot about the game of hockey when I was sitting in the rafters.

We don’t know how far these kids are going to take the Oildrop, but we do know it is going to be a helluva ride. Drink deep.

  • rockmoss

    Great read as always LT. Great addition to the ON team. I have always been a fan of both sites.
    I too am an old fogey who enjoyed the early years. One of my best memories was working in a downtown bar the night the Oilers won Stanley in 87. Tons of people, lots of fun, and nothing got broken/nobody got hurt.
    If these Oilers are even half as fun to watch as those guys were, we are in for a real treat.

  • Is there anyone that remembers the night Gretzky scored five against Philly,a ES,A PP,A SH,Empty netter,can’t remember what the fifth was.Does anyone remember what the fifth was?
    Pete Peeters must have needed therapy after that.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      The fifth goal was the empty netter. Wayne had only Billy Barber in his black Cooperalls to beat, he cut across the blue line and wristed an 80ft shot into an empty net.

      • Petr's Jofa

        As a favour, my father “sold” his season tickets for that game to a friend of the neighbour who was in from Winnepeg.

        Dad never got paid for the tickets, but the neighbour did buy me a 45 of the accomplishment including Rod’s call of the game which I used to listen to on my brown fisher-price record player.

        To this day, it’s still fun bring up 50 in 39 around my old man. I’ll have to see if I can find it next time I’m at my parents.

  • Cru Jones

    Beauty write up. This is the exact sort of unabashed sentimental enthusiasm that is causing me to fly out to Penticton on Sunday to see the young ‘uns take thier first shifts against actual opposition. Can’t wait.

  • DSF

    That beautiful woman is Phoebe Cates. That is a fantasy scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High where a guy is imagining her coming on to him in his back yard pool to The Cars playing “Moving in Stereo” in the background.
    Classic scene from a classic time, circa what 1982? Right around the time LT is writing about in the lives of the Boys on the Bus here…
    The last time Sean Penn smiled was when he made that movie, I think…

  • book¡e

    Wake me up when we have a franchise d-man and centre. Until then I ‘ll enjoy a bunch of wingers play exciting hockey.

    The future is still foggy in this crystal ball.

      • ubermiguel

        Removing the dead weight up front (Moroeu,P.O.S,Nillson) swaping Grebeshkov and Vishnovsky for Whitney and Foster, a motivated Souray, more expierenced goaltending, healthy Hemsky and the injection of real talent ( 3 amigos) I don’t see playoffs or a high draft pick in my crystal ball. “No man’s land”

        Heres hoping you are right ( Couterier, Hopkins,Larsson).

  • I remember those early OILER teams. In the early 1980s I moved to Hay River, NWT from Yellowknife and OILER games were broadcast on radio from Edmonton but I had to drive about 30 kilometers toward Pine Point to get reception. I could receive the game for about a stretch of 4 kilometers but it often faded. I would drive those 4 kliks, back and forth for the entire game and then drive the 3o kiliks home. Man, those teams were exciting. Thankfully, most games are now on TV.

  • A lot of negative posts,For the most part everyone is looking forward to a young exciting team.Also we have mostly top six players in our top six this year.The future is bright.Yes lowetide I am going to savour the second time around.

        • Just picture Hall receiving Hemsky’s one timers
          and finishing them unlike someone else. As long as he gets 1st line p.p. time and plays a regular shift, there is no reason why he shouldn’t produce more than Tavares and Dushene. The only thing that will come in his way is splitting the offensive minutes with the “PLETHERA of WINGERS” %@#& !! Same goes for the other 2.

          There is actually one more obstical and thats health, playing 16 games against Regher, Wilson (Colorodo) and Andy Sutton (Anaheim). He better learn to skate with his head up.

  • Great words LT ! My oldest memory was when I was about 8 yrs old when the Oilers beat Montreal in the playoffs around 1980?. We watched the winning game at my uncles place. He was a huge habs fans and he was devasted. I remember him freaking out and slamming the door and then throwing a snowshovel across the yard. It was priceless! My obession with the oilers had started. ( I still have Lee Fogolin’s autogragh somewhere ) – Keep up the articles and don’t let the negativity get to ya!

  • oilslick

    I remember going to W.E.M for an autograph signing standing in line for over 2 hours and clutching my Oilers/Shoppers Drug Mart calender and having Lee Fogolin page thru the photos and talk about various thing that happened the previous season and take the time to have a conversation with a 10 yr old hockey fanatic…Priceless.

    • Petr's Jofa

      I can’t say that I liked jason Smith as our Captain as I always thought he looked crazy with those psycho eyes of his. Having said that, I will not rush into judgement and vilify the guy over his alleged wrongdoings.

      I can only look at the Tillman situation and see how the media and the public overplayed that story as I heard the inside scoop from a buddy of mine who knew the situation. He told me that Tillman was drunk and he patted the ass of his babysitter. This is what was termed a sexual assault.

      I am not condoning Tillman’s or Smith’s behaviour in any way. I am only saying that we should be cautious and not too quick to rush to judgement until all the details come out.

      • Dyckster

        Actually, I believe Tillman admitted to placing his hands on the hips of the babysitter and proceeded to move his hips in a thrusting motion. This while she was bent over to pick something up. I could be wrong though.

        • Dyckster

          yeah you could be right it was something along those lines and what I said. My buddy told me about it when it first happened and that was awhile back but I remember my first thought was that what happened versus what he was getting charged with and how the media was blowing it up seemed out of proportion.

          Still not condoning..

        • PattQuinn'sChesthair

          That’s pretty similar to the version of the story I heard on the being told on Gregors show in August. Although I don’t condone what he did, ( I would be pretty steamed if this happened to one of my daughters) it certainly illustrates how the picture changes when you have the full story. Because let’s be honest, when you hear the full version of the Tillman story, there’s a kind of ” oh that’s what happened?” moment and your view of tilman shifts a little bit.

          That’s my long winded way of saying “let’s wait and see before we pass judgement.”

  • sec206

    I appreciate Lowetide’s enthusiasm, but I’m going to temper mine a bit.

    I’m barely old enough to remember the 1979-80 season and certainly was way too young to grasp its cosmic significance. However, as I recall, the biggest thing about the Oilers’ first season was essentially the novelty of being in the NHL. And that’s it.

    I don’t think anyone really had the foggiest notion that the 1979-80 team was three years away from a great season, four from the Stanley Cup final and five from winning it all. Oh sure – it was that the Gretzky kid was something special but that’s about it. But otherwise, anyone who says that they had a “funny feeling” that there was something “special” about that group in the fall of 1979 is probably employing the benefits of hindsight a tad too much.

    There’s nothing right now, right here, at this moment that suggests to me that this training camp … or this version of this team .. is going to be anything special. Not saying it won’t be, when looked back upon 10 years from now. I’m just saying I don’t see it yet.

    I want it to be great, but I’m just not prepared to compare it to 1979-80 yet.

    To close, I’ll see your Neil Young and raise you this ditty from The Foundations…

    “Why do you build me up, Buttercup
    Just to let me down.”

  • sec206

    Can’t deny the entertainment value of hope and youth. Remember 1998? We had young guys like Doug Weight, Jason Arnott, Ryan Smyth, Marchant, etc, backstopped by the always exciting and flashy Cujo. We knocked off the Dallas Stars that year, only to bow out to the Avs in the second round. Looking back, that group didn’t bring us a Cup, although, you could argue that because of the salary restrictions of the club at the time, it was impossible to build a winner when you couldn’t afford your star players. But it was one helluva ride and I have nothing but fond memories of those guys.

    If this group can deliver a little of that excitement that we had in the late-90’s, that would be a great first step to this town fully embracing the Oilers of 2010-2011.

    • Petr's Jofa

      You’ve got either the year wrong or the playoffs: we knocked off Dallas only to get bumped by Colorado in 1997. In 1998, we did the reverse: beat Colorado, then got eliminated by Dallas.

  • sec206

    The same was said about Crosby that some of you are saying about Hall. Rimouski was Hella stacked as well remember? Crosby of course had Mario, Recchi, and some other good players that I cant quite remember during his rookie year. Hall’s gonna be fine, he doesnt have a supporting cast like Crosby and Stamkos have but he’ll manage.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    I hope so, I am sick of the state the Oil are in, especially when our small market was going to reap the benefits of the new CBA contract. We have been rebuilding for the last 20 years, let this be the start of something exciting.

  • ubermiguel

    Great read LT!

    I to was a Bruins fan when I moved from Montreal to Edmonton in ’78. Went to a AVCO Cup game Oilers vs Jets. It was bad hockey compared to the Bruins vs Habs games that I went to at the Forum.
    But I became an Oilers fan quickly and it was exciting, especially when Peter Puck declared on Hockey night in Canada that the Oilers would win the Cup in 5 years! Everyone thought he was nuts until it came true.
    This is an exciting time even if a few of you don’t believe it, you will look back with fond memories.

  • Jamie B.

    Here’s some questions to no one (and thus, everyone) in particular…

    – What if Taylor Hall has one of those slow, feeling-his-way-through-the-league rookie seasons that guys like Owen Nolan and Brendan Shanahan and a host of other scoring power forwards had?

    – Is everyone who writes into this blog willing to be patient?

    – Do you promise not to freak out if Hall, say, goes pointless in his first eight or 10 games?

    – Do you promise not to break your ankle jumping off the Hall bandwagon next spring in the event he either A) Fails to win the Calder Trophy; or B) Fails to be nominated for it?

    – If you answered yes, to any or all of the above, are you willing to sign an affadavit to that effect?

    • Lowetide

      Scott:

      1. I’m fine if Hall doesn’t hit my estimate (20-20-40). I’d rather not see him do a Joe Thornton though, if he really isn’t ready send him back to junior. Lets not waste a season of his entry level deal.

      2. I’m willing to be patient. I think they’re a lottery team.

      3. Promise. Hall can go 8 games without scoring a point and then they need to send him to juniors, though.

      4. Promise. I’m cool with it.

      5. Sure. I’ll sign it.

  • Jamie B.

    When I was young I would get excited that Santa was coming to town. I would be somewhat disappointed because I got socks or underwear. But the next year I would get that same exciting feeling, hoping this year it would be better. Then one year my older brother told me that there was no Santa. Ever since then I could never recapture that excitement for Christmas.
    My new Christmas is the beginning of the NHL season. Every year I hope the Oilers are going to deliver a big present. In the back of my mind I know I will get another pair of socks but I still hold on to the excitement.

    Some of the posters remind me of my assclown brother. 🙂

  • Jamie B.

    It’s alot easier to reflect on a career like Lemieux’s once it is over and calculate playoff stats than it is to predict how clutch a rookie will be. So go ahead, run the clutch calculations and cross multiply by the Desjardins bible and let me know Eberle’s career playoff scoring increases. There is a sport called baseball I think some of you would like better.