The Edmonton Oilers are leaving Oklahoma territory at the end of this season, heading to California in a modern re-telling of the Steinbeck novel. As with all things, the idea is to find a better place and in this case there are some benefits for team, players and possibly fans. Let’s have a look.


Things should be better for the players, as long travel in the Texas League meant long hours of travel and less practice time between games. Oklahoma City is (from what I can tell) a far lovelier city than Bakersfield but there are fewer miles between rinks in California.

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Let’s have a quick look at travel.

driving okc


driving bakersfield

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There has been talk, and I’m not sure of the details (because I can’t find them), but the Pacific Division may play fewer games than the rest of the AHL. That’s a big concern because fewer games played may give the Pac-6 an advantage over the rest of the league in the playoffs. 


Since taking over as GM, Craig MacTavish has told us that playing kids in the minors is more important than winning games. Oilers fans can look forward to more prospects playing feature roles and fewer minor league vets like Jason Williams, Matt Ford and Yann Danis.

This means youngsters will be forced to ‘sink or swim’ without cover and could mean trips to the ECHL are more frequent. However, it does seem the Oilers have already instituted the concept in OKC this year. Let’s use Detroit as a comparison: here are the new hires in Grand Rapids this season and their numbers:

  • Anthony Mantha 30gp, 6-7-13
  • Andreas Athanasiou 25gp, 7-9-16
  • Martin Frk 9gp, 1-0-1 (and then 22gp, 15-12-27 in ECHL)

Now, let’s look at the 20-year old

  • Bogdan Yakimov 38gp, 6-11-17
  • Josh Winquist 16gp, 4-4-8  (after going 18gp, 5-18-23 in ECHL)
  • Jujhar Khaira 38gp, 5-2-7
  • Mitchell Moroz 33gp, 0-3-3

In that group of players, I’d say Moroz is the only guy who can be identified as ‘dying on the vine due to inactivity’ this season.

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Another way of looking at this comes from Eric Rodgers and TOI estimates for the Barons. Source

  • Jujhar Khaira 11:54 (after 12 games)
  • Bogdan Yakimov 10:07 (after 9 games)
  • Mitch Moroz 6:44 (after 10 games)

Now these are estimates, and from earlier in the year, but do point to the idea that the new hands on the farm don’t play as much in early days. We may see things change in Bakersfield as the Oilers should have complete control.


One downside: The fine people we’ve gotten to know over these years. The players move on but the fans remain and their attachment to the organization, the players and the stories surrounding the team will live and breathe for decades. There is a certain sadness to the end of a sports franchise, as an Expos fan I can say that with authority.

Jim Byers is one of the best hockey play-by-play men I’ve ever heard, Neal Livingston, Eric Rodgers and Patricia Teter are three of the best bloggers/broadcasters of the game in Oklahoma territory. Rob Ferguson is a brilliant photographer.

God bless all of them. Goodbye Oklahoma, USA.

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  • YFC Prez

    I feel so bad for the barons players. Especially if they get sent down from the oilers. I haven’t been to OKC but I hear it’s a fantastic place. Now I have been through Bakersfield. It’s far from fantastic.

    It’s hard to breath there. The air quality is the worst in the states. If any of you have been to LA, take that smog, dust and pollution from that city and double it. The city itself looks like a scene from sons of anarchy with biker and Neo Nazi gangs all over the place.

    I thought at first they were moving the team to Ontario California. That would be a much nicer destination.

    Perhaps this will get more out of the players. They will play their butts off to stay away from that city once they get a taste of Edmonton.

    • 719

      From wikipedia:

      The American Lung Association ranked Bakersfield as the most ozone-polluted city in the nation in 2006.[48] It was also ranked as the second-most polluted city in terms of both short-term and year-round particle pollution.[49][50] As of 2013, when measured by atmospheric particulate matter—specifically PM10, particles of 10 µm or less—Bakersfield is listed as having the worst air in the United States

      As for the neo nazi gangs, I would hate to be Nurse or Khaira in that town.

    • 719

      Having been there about a month ago this is 100% accurate.

      It looks like the location of Mad Max V: When the Rivers All Run Dry. Except it won’t be a movie. It’ll be the actual epi-centre of water-starved lawlessness. I’d bet money on it.

  • Lofty

    With all due respect, an extention of the Oiler’s loser mind-set is the last thing young pros need. Play the kids by all means but some veteran players can help the newcomers adjust. Demotion and an unstable team structure isn’t going to do anybody’s confidence any good.

    Giiven the loser mind-set of Mact and Lowe I am not surprised by this strategy.

  • 719

    @Total points

    Well, you see, if you have to ask the question about Dubnyk…

    At least, that’s what I’m told by a much smarter hockey man than I. However, I am always amused to see an organization literally throw a player in the garbage after a couple months of bad to mediocre play behind a bad to worse team after years of solid numbers and loyal service to a losing franchise.

    The more amusing thing? MacT complains about the scouting not being good enough and development process but is sitting here tossing the few players that HAVE worked their way successfully through the system away. Dubnyk, soon to be Petry, apparently Marincin at this rate and, until Nelson got into power, likely Lander. Maybe still Lander.

    And really, is there anything worse than a man who talks a big game but does the exact opposite in practice? One word: incompetent.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^is this another Oilers thing though….playing a guy in a league where he shouldn’t be yet, ala Leon Draisaitl? or are the Oilers trying to avoid the “i told you so” crowd and not sending the #32 pick to the ECHL, then hearing yet again how there were so many better picks to make at that spot?

    • toprightcorner

      No recent draft pick should play less than 12 minutes a night unless multiple years doing so proves ineffective.

      Thats like Butch Harmon telling the players he teaches to only play 2 holes in each practice round cause more playing time doesn’t make you better.

  • bassguy

    Hi Lowetide..great song(streets of Bakersfield) and even more interesting is the history of this area that created this sound/music…in a nut shell this type of country music was born with merle haggard, buck owens and now Dwight etc playing in bars where the older style of country just couldnt cut above the din of the raucous patrons… so they added a rock groove(or a backbeat with the drums is more accurate) , more electric guitars to propel and cut above the loud bars..I have never been but might have to make the trip!

  • toprightcorner

    Forbes had Bakersfield as the twentieth most miserable city in the US. And added this comment

    “The residents of Bakersfield are among the most uneducated in the country, with only 15% possessing a college degree and 70% a high school diploma. The U.S. averages are 28% and 85%, respectively.”