Long May You Run

If you’re an Oiler fan with trunks of memories still to come, tonight’s Hockey Canada "red and white" game at Rexall Place is a chance to formally join the party.

The thing about following a team that is most satisfying is seeing them grow into what their potential suggests is possible. For old timey Oiler fans like me–who remember the WHA Oilers as being an also-ran–the 80s Oilers represent a "once in a lifetime" experience. Trunks of memories? God yes, to the point where I’m certain we drive the younger fans crazy.

No matter how high these current kids fly, it’s going to be worth following along. Tonight, Edmonton has an opportunity to see RNH for the first time since Steve Tambellini called his name. A welcome for the kid along with a healthy dose of reality: along with being drafted #1 by the Oilers comes tremendous expectations.

Taylor Hall had swagger, a little of the Mark Messier/Glenn Anderson in him. Right from the start, Hall had that confidence that can sustain a player through tough times (Taylor Hall had a pretty slow start to his rookie NHL season). I don’t think Oiler fans were worried a lot about Hall after that hellacious hit he took in the Mem Cup (followed by a goal just a few minutes later).Hall is already developing into a leader, and with his talent and drive it isn’t going to be very long before the Oilers recognize it and reward the young man for those leadership skills.

Here’s a quick look at the Oiler kids who will be on display tonight at Rexall (game time is 7, leave early as parking will be a mess. CONSTRUCTION–the official slogan of Edmonton’s summer–means the LRT isn’t stopping at Rexall currently). Tickets are $12 plus service charges, etc and available at ticketmaster, and Sport Chek.

  • RNH: An outstanding talent, cerebral center with elite passing skills and the kind of vision that implies he has been touched by God. He’s the future #1 center on the Edmonton Oilers and should get plenty of icetime tonight to showcase his skills. Expect assists over goals and if you’re sitting in the bleeders it’ll be an excellent place to observe how well he says the trailers and open spaces on the ice. An electric talent.
  • Dillon Simpson: A young man who could be very important to the Oilers cluster 2015-25. Simpson has tremendous hockey genes, an played in the NCAA last season (against men much older) in his draft year. I don’t think he’s a strong candidate to make the squad, but even being there at this age is testimony.
  • Tyler Bunz: Folks, there’s a Hockeybunz (I am so sorry) about this player. The Oilers have a prospect in Bunz who is tracking very well and could end up being an NHL starter down the line. He certainly has his head on straight, and that is reflected in this article in the St. Albert Gazette.

For a lot of people reading this post, I’m old enough to be your Dad. I rarely pass out advice because I’ve learned over the years that advice is best given to those you know well enough to be certain it’ll be taken in the spirit in which it is given. I’m going to put aside my own instincts here and offer some advice to you: if you don’t remember the glory days, then go to tonight’s game.

I know it’s August, I know there are lots of other things to do and I know the parking will be a pain in the ass. I also know that you don’t get many chances to be part of the very beginning of a special career, and tonight is one of those chances.

Nation Radio hits the airwaves today at noon on Team 1260. Among the guests scheduled to appear:

  • Dustin Nielson from Team 1260 radio. He has a brand new show beginning later this month and we’ll talk about it. Also on the agenda: the WJ camp going on this week and Dustin’s impressions of the three Oiler invites. If we have time, I’ll ask him about his unusual fanbase.
  • Pat McLean from Black Dog Hates Skunks. The blogosphere’s finest actual writer and funniest commentator on life, I’ll ask Pat to discuss his blog’s beginnings, the unique and authentic quality of the subject matter, and his impressive perspective on the Oilers and hockey.
  • Todd Nelson, coach of the OKC Barons. I’ll ask the coach about his impressions of the kids who attended the Oilers development camp after the draft. He was there and got a first hand look at some of the young men who will play for him this fall. We’ll discuss the role on an AHL team in developing a big league players and ask him about some of the players who may return for a second season in Okla City.
  • Cam Charron, a unique voice who has done some interesting work in recent days. I’ll ask him about two way forwards, the value of the faceoff and we’ll talk about RNH’s future.

Questions and comments welcome as always at nationradio@theteam1260.com and we’ll hit the airwaves on Team 1260 at noon Edmonton time today.