A WITNESS TO HISTORY

They say there is always a witness to history and last night there was 16,000 and change in attendance and billions more watching on TV that saw history go down. It was one of those times that sort of jump kicks you right in the face with its magnitude and it takes awhile for what you saw to sink in.

HOW AMAZING

The goal itself last night was mind shattering and will be dissected to death by those in the know about these things. But it was the context of the goal that really made it something of absolute legend. The game had been largely brutal until that point – one nill and rather dull. The refs were out to lunch awarding powerplays as though they were getting bonuses for the most obscure calls they could make.

"No one has called a visor instigator penalty in three years!" one ref was heard remarking at a TV time out.

"Betcha I can call one in the next 10 minutes" came the reply.

Then the Nuge goal gets called back. An absolutely embarassing call for all involved and we saw Rexall Place start to come unglued like we can rarely recall. Garbage was raining down, the glass was being shaken back and forth and the loudest chant of "BULLSHIT" we have ever heard rained down too.

It looked like another glum winter night in Edmonton until the youngest* newest** bestest*** Oiler decided to take matters into his own hands and bat that little round devil disk out of the air and right into the twine.

THE LEGEND OF YAK CITY RISES

We have had the good fortune to see some incredible Oilers goals in our day. Pronger scoring off the draw with no time left on the clock. 1,246,429 heart stopping moments during the 06 Cup Run. Jordan Eberle scoring the goal that launched a million SQUEEEEEEEs to name just a few. But with all due respect to the other goals and our dear sweet Jordan, we have NEVER seen a celly like the Yakupov one last night. 

There may be some people out there who are freaking out about the celebration but they can all go pound sand. We witnessed Rexall Place connect with an Oiler player on a level we haven’t seen since a certain number 14 scored a certain toe draggian dandy on opening night against some forgettable team down Highway 2.

The emotion of the evening, the blown call, the lingering frustration with the lockout. It all melted away as 64 slid blue line to blue line with all of the OilersNation around the world sliding in spirit with him. And at the end of the game there he was on the ice celebrating the win – helicoptering his stick in salute to the fans unlike anything we have ever seen.

You could see the emotion on his face on he sat on the bench and the goal was announced. The combination of his 64 billion dollar grin and the crowd losing its collective mind was something to behold. Here is an honest to goodness superstar in the making on a team now counting a handful of similar super studs. Playing in a City that has wanted nothing more for almost 30 years.

The NHL has built the walls between the fans and the players so high that many fairweather fans have checked out. As a result many buildings in the league will find themselves half full with mildly bored players playing before mostly bored suit types until the emotion comes back – if it ever does.

Contrast that scenario with Yakupov scoring THAT goal in front of THAT crowd here in Edmonton.

A hero was born last night.

FOOTNOTES

You may think we have been smitten by the new Russian Hearthrob and have forgotten who we came to the dance with. May we then present for your consideration this picture of Jordan Eberle with a puppy.

Could 2013 BE any better?

* We think

** Not counting trades

*** Except Eberle and the Nuge naturally

Big props to our dubstep lovin homie dabears on twitter for the Yak City lyrics pic. 

If you would like to watch Yakupoving on an infinite loop please click here.

  • Old Soldier

    I am a 50 year old retired soldier, having spent 32 years in a different culture(the military), than most folks, I have learned that my perspective sometimes puts me at odds with those of a more Politically Correct personality.

    I have ingrained in me to my very soul, all that matters is the mission…..to be successful no matter what. No sacrifice is too much. To do everything in your power to achieve that goal/ mission/ success, even if it means bending a rule, pushing yourself and others beyond limits, all that matters is victory.

    Now I am an old hockey fan, so my life is very blah, I have little stress, I have little excitement, and all I have is my Oilers when it comes to fulfilling those few adrenaline fuelled thrills left to me.

    So I resent anyone who criticizes or ridicules any enthusiasm shown by “pro” athletes. Yes they are professionals and they get paid well to play the game by a certain set of rules, but that is not why I watch. I want emotion, I want passion, and I want it from both sides.

    Why do we love hockey, for its beauty, for its flow…….and for its passion, the only sport to allow fighting as an outlet for that emotion.

    I want to live through my team. To feel their frustration after losing a tight game, to feel their elation when coming back like last night to snatch victory from defeat.

    I also want to hate the enemy, to feel nauseous when the Canucks or Flames beat us, to be personally embarrassed when the Oilers gave up 6 goals in a period.

    I know there are medical professionals who will say something about bonding so emotionally to a team, but screw them, I have the scars and broken body to prove I have earned the damn right to feel and do as I please.

    I remember Teemu throwing a glove in the air and shooting it, I remember Tiger riding his stick down center ice, and I remember hating with every ounce of my being watching Fleury sliding down the ice…..

    but that hatred fueled anticipation of “next time”. I waited a whole year, just to say, “so there”.

    I remember watching Risebrough shred McSorleys jersey in the penalty box, and wanting to meet him face to face one day.

    I remember reading sports pages where athletes are challenging each other in parking lots and hallways instead of having beers together.

    I want my league to create players like Stevens, Lindros, Messier, Marchment and so many others who you loved on your team and hated on others, and who didnt blink an ounce of sympathy of they happened to knock someone out cold.

    That is what being a fan is, it is to feel and live every moment, with “my” team. Not your team, not our team, but my team.

    That is what hockey brings, that no other sport does, the emotional connection to a team and its players and I resent a socially conscious media that has taken an incredibly skilled athlete like Crosby and turned him into a media robot, spouting cliches and never turning a hair the wrong way. I want to see Crosby pissed off and lose it.

    I know many will criticize me as a dinosaur but in my day, that feeling that the fans felt last night, happened a hell of a lot more often than it does now.

    Sorry for the rant.

  • book¡e

    I think a balance is perfect. Yakupov’s celebration was total emotion and I think most people get that.

    The showboating is good when it happens on a rare basis because it does inflame opposition fans. However, if it becomes commonplace it degrades the league – it actually takes away the serious connection people have because it becomes a farce.

  • Old Soldier

    Thanks folks, I tend to ramble at times, but some of the criticism leveled at a kid who is doing his best to please his fans…..really rankled me.

    When I saw Yak sliding down the ice, I saw a kid who thought he “did good”. I didnt see anything selfish, I saw someone trying to share his joy with us….his fans.

    I will admit, my version of sportsmanship is not giving that extra shot when the linesman is holding you, and ends about there.

    I am not a fan of handshakes after playoff series, I want the players to hate losing as much as I do, and I dont think sportsmanship has anything to do with it. I can guarantee you I never shook hands with anyone I ever stared over a sandbag at, no matter how much I respected him, he was still the enemy.

    I think as a former soldier, my views of being a part of a team liken back to the days of “the boys on the bus”. When we know (or think) we are better than you, and we dont give a crap what you think, and dont piss us off because it will only make it worse for you. What made the Oilers so special back then….the fact everyone, and I mean everyone hated and feared us.

    And I am beginning to see that again.

    I see this young group of players being assembled reminding me so much of a group of piss and vinegar recruits who after struggling through the rigors and pain of training and excersizes, finally starting to gel into an elite unit that feels it can take on any comers and come out ahead.

    So thanks for humouring the old boy folks, appreciate the comments, but I still have enough steel in my spine to stand up for the boys.

    Ps…as for Crosby, I didnt mean to infer that he doesnt compete….absolutely he does. But is there a better example of a “corporate” player, someone who is programmed to say and do the right things all the time….maybe I am wrong.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Here’s the deal about “excessive celebrations”, using two pretty well known examples.

    Fleury sliding all over the beloved oil drop in Game 6:
    Didn’t go so well for that little sack of crap in Game 7, did it?

    Terrell Owens dancing on the star at old Texas Stadium one too many times:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdDQpqY5OTI

    The point is, if you’re a player, and it bothers you that some guy is celebrating too much at your expense… DO something about it. Either layeth the smacketh down, as George Teague did to T.O., or bide your time and end the a-hole in question’s season by ripping game 7 in his barn. Don’t whine like a little girl who just had her first bicycle stolen and say how “wrong” it is to have too much fun, because, we, the fans, in general, love to see that stuff. If it’s BY our team, it’s incredibly sweet. If it’s AGAINST our team… so much the better, so sweeter the revenge.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Old Soldier. Thanks for sharing the memories. You missed the satisfaction of Mac T yanking Harvey the Hound’s guts out by his tongue right in the Saddledome. The Flames mascot defiled right in their own home. Makes me well up just thinking about it. Sweet satisfaction!

  • Seems to me Mark Fistric has a pretty good handle on the Yak City photoshop article. Maybe more people would post up those gems if there were…sayyyy…an OILERS NATION ART GALLERY with Facebook and Twitter links.

    Nah. That’s just stupid.

  • Doc Unk

    Everything I could say about the game and the ‘celly’ have already been said, so I’m just going to say that the pic above of Yak sliding over the drop is now my computer desktop wallpaper and will be until I’ve got a pic of Eberle hoisting Lord Stanley’s beloved cup.

  • West

    Does anyone know if the NHL has said anything about whether the referees decision to disallow the RNH goal was correct or not. I know they said the correct procedure was followed, and I agree that is true. However, I don’t think the right decision was made and am wondering if the NHL has the stones to say so publicly. How a goal would be disallowed when the goaltender basically wrapped his own pad around Gagner’s leg is something that I would like explained. Maybe Shannahan could do one of those video explanations, like he did for suspensions last year. No wait, those made no sense half the time either.

  • Rob...

    @oldsoldier

    Dead on buddy!

    Yaks celebration was tied directly into the situation and he in my mind excorcised the Theo Fleury demon that has been at Rexall for over 30 years. Pure emotion and elation is what Yak felt and dammit if anyone says otherwise. Some of these players talk about a certain unwritten code, but I mean come on. A lot of teams resort to cheap diving tactics, the Oilers in my mind have never ever used diving as an in game tactic. I wouldn’t mind seeing Yak celebrating that way many more times in his career in that or much larger situations!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Clyde Frog–I’m glad you’re writing again. I bet Big Mouth leaves the computer alone now. Excellent work once again.

    Old Soldier–I love your passion, comments and convictions. Thanks for letting us meet you tonight. Thank you for all you have done for Canadians. God Bless you sir.

  • To me, Yak looked like someone who wasn’t ashamed to be photographed and forever remembered in an Oilers jersey. I think that’s a good thing.

    Also, Teemu Selanne had some crazy celebrations too, if you’re telling me the Oilers just drafted the next Selanne, I’m ok with that. He turned out pretty well.