SUGARBRITCHES: LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL

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.

  • Bucknuck

    I love living on the west coast right now. The Canuck fans in the area haven’t made a peep about the Oilers gear in my store. Not a word from any of them, because I can say: “Uh… who’s first in the division right now? Oh yeah… thaaaaaat’s right.” Shuts them right up. Life is good. Keep the league boiling in Oil, boys. I feel like some deep fried Coyote – squeeee!

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I’ve got the opposite situation. Out here in Toronto… team life-time mediocrity has given the fair-weathers an excuse to pretend they care about hockey… horrible. I’ve got Feb. 6th circled on the calendar in the hopes that the Oil can boil some leafs good!!!

      • Bucknuck

        I am on Vancouver Island. I own a bookstore north of Victoria. You will see an Oilers blanket on my chair, an Oilers magnet on my cash register, an Oilers Carabiner hanging from a bookshelf, a Stanley Cup with an Oiler Logo on it on my stereo, and an Oilers Christmas ornament hanging from the carabiner. It elicits a fair amount of comment around here.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Nice. I grew up in Vic. To be honest I’m surprised you got much notice from the locals. My experience as a young oiler fan on the Island was being surrounded by people who didn’t care about hockey (with the exception of the beloved Cougars before their untimely departure) until playoff time.

          let me guess… Nanaimo? Comox?

  • Bucknuck

    why does this have to not be real?im sure the oilers wont finish first and might find themselves in 7th or 8th,but thats progress right?after hemsky and whitney come back 100 percent,a trade will happen to bolster their defence that will help contribute to success.how come the sportswriters in edmonton always just wait to dump all over the oil?they have depth at defence,forward,and goaltending,they have everyone believing in a system,winning in faceoffs and killing off penalties left and right,face it brownlee,this team has turned a corner,and although we are not stanley cup bound for a year or two they are finally a proud hard working team that represent edmonton with excellence.go write for the flames!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I agree with the tone of your offering, RB.

    After years of armchair analysis of the suckage that has been Oilers hockey, I’m inclined not to question why the Oilers can suddenly play defence…or why Special Teams all of a sudden are functional…or why Khabibulin is not currently a sieve. I’m just enjoying this for what it is, a nice stretch of hockey by the Home Team. It’s like a cold beer on a hot day when a guy’s outside breaking a sweat…I’m just relaxing and enjoying it.

    The whip has been put away for now, #10 & #77 look like stars.

    Indeed, Let the Good Times Roll, Ed!!

  • Little Buttcheeks

    That Tommy Salo comment made my day.

    After these past few years, Oilers fans should enjoy this run. We’ve earned the right to be proud of our team and to walk around with our heads up and our Oilers’ clothing on. GO OILERS GO!! RELENTLESS TOGETHER!!

  • From a discussion with the Oilers “sales and marketing” side. It seems that the deep pocket guys who do things like rent suites and such are sitting on the “show me its real” fence.
    I found that curious.

    Likely just an extension of years of home ice futility and the price tag to value ratio, but somewhat indicative of the mindset of the financially invested Oiler fan.

    For myself, I would like to see this sustain itself to a point that the oppositions fans cant get in because the season seat holder wants to be in the building rather than taking the others money. Theres something about that entire “thing” that just bothers me.