Welcome home

Ever see that episode of the Twilight Zone when the guy returns to town from a long trip and finds that everyone has disappeared? He wanders around for ages, everything exactly as it should be on the surface, food burning on the stove, phones working, church bells ringing by an unseen hand…

It’s slightly unsettling to see him try and make sense of his new reality and it takes him a far lot longer than you would think to realize that everyone has actually disappeared and the world he had become accustomed to was gone. If you want to creep yourselves out, we highly recommend watching these segments as you read the rest of our first article home. We watched them all and freaked ourselves right out. Fear beats depression, just as paper beats rock.

You see, we mention this very first episode of the longtime TV institution because this is exactly how we feel upon our return to Edmonton and the viewing of our first Oilers game. On the surface things appeared the same at first, but it has soon become apparent that things are very wrong.

Have a beer, Wanye

Last night, we sat down at Wanye Manor to watch the Oilers game with our roommate with whom we have literally watched hundreds of games over the years. Fifteen minutes to puck drop, after having watched Leafs hockey for the past hour, our roommate suddenly gets up, dresses and heads for the door.

"Where are you going?" we asked curiously. "The Oil play the Penguins in like 20 minutes!"

Already halfway outside, our roommate paused for a moment, quietly closed the door and came back and sat down beside us.

"Wanye," he creepily began, "things changed while you were gone. People don’t watch Oilers games anymore. The team is just too brutal. In fact I had tickets to tonight’s game and I could barely give them away. Here, take this beer. You’re gonna need it."

And with that ominous warning he walked out the door, off to do heaven only knows what, heaven knows where.

We cracked the beer he had handed us and sat back to ponder his words. When we left the City of Champions, people were routinely screwing each other over for Oilers tickets. We recall a buddy who gave two weekend tickets to another friend of ours with the explanation that he couldn’t attend due to a "work thing." Turns out the "work thing" was actually a date he had carefully planned. Then, at some point around Wednesday, the girl broke it off with him and my friend demanded his tickets back. And back they were given. For this was a different time, Nation, when the world was how we remember it and the Oilers were a skilled team playing before sell out crowds.

Where is everybody?

Sparing you a grisly recap of a 3-2, loss we will simply say that this looks nothing like the team we left. With the exception of a handful of players, the Oilers have completely disappeared. We get the impression that if you wandered around the dressing room down at Rexall you would find an empty dressing room, deserted training centre and empty stands. The scoreboard clock still counts down, ticking off the remaining games of the season. But the helm is untended, the ship is empty and adrift. The place is completely abandoned.

Isn’t this the same squad that started 6-2 before 99% of the team caught the flu? Didn’t they also set a franchise record of wins on the road a couple of short months ago? Now what have we been left with? One win in the past 14 games? How does this happen?

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

"I’m in the middle of a nightmare I can’t wake up from. And I’ve had it, I’d like to wake up from it now" – The Last Man on Earth, episode of the Twilight Zone

As sickening as the 2-0 collapse was, it was even more disturbing to see the manner in which the announcers on TSN carved the team so deftly during the first intermission. The normal polished banter of the TSN hotstove was replaced with genuine shock and dismay for how far the team had fallen.

Someone or other suggested blowing up the roster up and starting again, only to see the normally never-at-a-loss-for-words Bob MacKenzie shake his head with emotion we can only classify as "bewildered disgust pie dusted with shame sugar" and pointed out under his breath that "no one would take half these contracts." Then the rest of the panel nodded bewilderedly and moved on to a more positive topic, like (insert non-funny topic here.)

Well, surely there is a plan at the Oilers offices though right? It isn’t as though the 1,205 hockey executives, coaches, and scouts have completely disappeared from the boardrooms, desks and offices on Kingsway Avenue have they? They must have some sort of grip on how bad things are currently and are just waiting for the opportune moment to strike right?

It isn’t as though they are so out of touch with reality that Oilers website cheerily summarizes the game as "nipped by the Pens" or try and get us to watch a quick online video of Ladislav Smid sitting at Japanese Village and sheepishly talking about some garbage or other though right?

The Oilers wouldn’t try and pass off a load of tripe like this on a fan base in the midst of the greatest crisis this franchise has ever faced would they? Surely there is someone in charge?

*insert shocked silence here*

  • Bucknuck

    Ironically the Kingsway office IS rather empty as a bunch of them are down at the new digs at Telus field. Better access to a bridge and potential escape…. perhaps.

    pffffft tsn… is that all they have for shots?… we do better at work.. losers

  • Bucknuck

    Oh… and there is no plan, Wanye.

    Somehow Tambellini has awarded Khabibulin our MVP award, and he says the main thing to focus on is winning games and not to think about everything else. As a fan I can't take that philosophy or I will get a little bitter.

    *sigh*

    • Bucknuck

      Trivia:
      That video is based upon a book called "Johnny got his Gun". I read it a few years ago and it was one of the most depressing books I have ever read.

      The book is about a dude slowly coming out of a coma. He can't see anything and is totally groggy and can't tell what's happening. He is remembering his life and trying.

      First he figures out he has no legs, then he realizes he has no arms. Every discovery about his current status is punctuated by flashbacks of his former life where he was a vital human being with a future. As time goes on he discovers that he can't hear, can't see, can't smell, can't talk. there is a cloth over his face because it is gone (along with his jaw if I remember right).

      The man has no way to communicate with anyone. the only thing he has is the feeling of the sun slowly sliding up his torso every day, which he lives for… and then they stick him in a closet somewhere and he goes a little nuts.

      So it's good to remember there are worse things than watching the Oilers continue their descent.

        • Bucknuck

          If I told the climax I would spoil the book, but I think I have done that already, so what the hell.

          The climax of the book is him doing morse code by lifting his head off the pillow and then learning to communicate. People would "write" letters on his chest, and he would respond in Morse code by thumping his head on a pillow.

          It was written well enough that you felt his elation at finally being able to communicate with other human beings. It made me realize many of the things I take for granted… like being able to communicate effectively.

          • Harlie

            not sure if you saw the Metallica video or not….but if you have then it sounds like there was no need to read that book as the video basically has all the details of the book that you mentioned. And the video is actually quite frightening in it's own way.

          • Bucknuck

            In honesty, the video is just terribly sad. The book was a hard read, but when you go through his triumph of being able to communicate with people once again it makes the journey worth it. You read the book to feel the triumph of the human spirit and feel the true tragedy of war.

            I cheer for the Oilers right now due to the triumph I will feel when the Oilers pick in the top five and then make a real run for their money in the years of our future.

  • Bucknuck

    It was hard being at the game last night surrounded by Penguins fans (where were you guys five years ago BTW) and listening to people talk about how quiet it is in Rexall these days.

    It was a good game, though. I was entertained and thought the Oil kept pace for sure.

    And Wanye, did you see David Staples blog where he quoted all kinds of people all over the Blogs (including some ON people) to show how angry fans are. It was kind of eerie to read all that negativity.