Ignoring the old axiom about "not letting the highs get too high or the lows get too low" seems part of the very DNA that makes up fans of the Edmonton Oilers.
After enduring five consecutive seasons with the bandwagon upside down and on fire in the ditch of defeat after a high-speed joy ride to the 2006 Stanley Cup final, you’d have to be Mr. Poopy Pants not to let the faithful slide on that old cliche, no?
With the Oilers on a six-game winning streak and off to an 8-2-2 start after kicking off a six-game road trip by starching the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at the Staples Center Thursday, the Kool-aid is flowing and it’s high times, indeed, for those with emotional skin in the game.
So, while it’s inevitable a wheel is bound to come off and a bump or two in the road certainly awaits, it’s not difficult to resist the urge to paint a sobering big picture or predict impending disappointment. It’s OK to stow the cynicism and the calculators, the unsustainable-this and the likelihood of that. We can sound oh-so-smart another time.
Let grown men write "Squuuueeeeeee" and come off like pre-pubescent girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Let the long-suffering who pay the freight high-five strangers in bars as they tip-toe around Wanye, face down in a puddle of puke. Plan the parade route.
Let the good times roll.
SOMETHING TO CHEER ABOUT
Whether you’re a hardcore fan in face paint or a supposedly detached observer who gets paid to watch the Oilers — win or lose — stretches like this unexpected roll are fun. How much is just a matter of degree.
Having been in the middle of gaudy stretches with this franchise a time or two, there’s no getting around that it’s easier for everybody to show up for work at the rink when times are good than during prolonged periods of sucking, which have been the rule the last couple years.
The last Stanley Cup run was a three-month, nobody-saw-this-coming hoot. Back in 2001-02, when the Oilers put together a nine-game unbeaten streak in March, players sick of losing, fans weary of watching it and those of us tired of writing about it all got a break from the grind.
I remember sitting on the bus after a 2-2 tie in Los Angeles and Tommy Salo, whose humour ran to, shall I say, questioning the sexual preferences of the travelling media, turned to two of us sitting in our assigned seats and said with a straight face: "It’s OK if you guys sit together. Hug and kiss if you want." Guffaws all around. Good times.
I’m not sure if Bombastic Bob Stauffer and Jack Facts Michaels will go with the flow now the way we did (no, Smart Guy, there wasn’t any media smooching, not that there’s anything wrong with that), but this little roll is more of that.
PART OF THE PROCESS
Fans of the Oilers aren’t the only ones being sold hope these days as part of a rebuilding process that’s included back-to-back 30th-place finishes. That’s a lot of faith.
Veterans like Sam Gagner, who hasn’t won squat since putting on the Oil Drop, and kids like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins need something to hang their hats on, too.
Are fans and players really expected to buy in to "the plan" Tom Renney is pitching if defeat and disappointment is the repeated result for five years running? That’s a tough sell. Success, fleeting or not, is a necessary part of the process.
This start to the season, as unexpected as it’s been and unsustainable as it is, is exactly that. Give fans like those who live to rant and rave in Edmonton even intermittent reason to believe and they will.
They’ll line up to buy the tickets and the jerseys. They’ll sell-out the rink. They’ll send Mr. Poopy Pants smart-ass e-mails and walk on his lawn. It’s November 4 and the Oilers are tied for first place in the Western Conference. Next stop, Phoenix.
Go with it.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.