For as long as I’ve called Edmonton home, which is going on 24 years, the last ride down the road in whatever noisy, too-fast, only-on-sunny days ride I’ve owned before I reluctantly tucked it away in the garage before the snow flew has marked the official start of the NHL season for me.
As soon as training camp started, and with pre-season just around the corner and the leaves turning, I’d always check the extended local weather forecast to see when, and if, I could squeeze in one more jaunt down the highway before giving way to the change in seasons and turning my attention to the Oilers.
Frost on the windshield in the morning, as we’ve had the last few days around the city, was always a sure giveaway time was short and that shifting gears and the simply joy of listening to the glorious roar of a well-built engine under acceleration would soon be replaced by the relative monotony of line rushes, depth charts and camp cuts.
With my paying job, not to mention Alberta weather, taking precedence over the pastime that is old iron, I’d always hope for one last perfect, sunny day to get out that last ride. Today was that day, and my son Sam and I took advantage of it at sundown. Purple sky. Open road. Faster, dad. Perfect.
JUST A GAME
That’s a rhetorical question, really. With the NHL having already shelved the start of the schedule, including the Oilers season-opener in Vancouver against the Canucks next Saturday, because of the lockout, I don’t have a pat answer. How about you?
With my time as the every-day beat man at the dailies five years behind me now, I’m blessed that I don’t have to cover yet another work stoppage or fly to Oklahoma City in search of an actual training camp to fill column inches while acquainting myself with AHL travel. I got my fill of that in 2004-05.
I’ve got a new business to run, Sam to drive to school and time on my hands I didn’t have when I was toting a notepad. I’ve just got to figure out what to do with it, now that the Biscayne (she sure sounded sweet today) is on blocks. I’m guessing fans are facing the same question – unless, of course, you’re too busy pacing the floor while waiting for Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr to sort things out to turn your attention elsewhere.
There is still lots of hockey to watch in this city, as Jason Gregor has already pointed out, if you need your fix. After all, we all have our own versions of the last ride before we lock on to the NHL season, which was supposed to be just around the corner. Now, it’s cold turkey with Thanksgiving Day almost here.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.