As fans of the Edmonton Oilers are well aware, it’s been just a week short of nine years since their team began an unexpected and mesmerizing march to the 2006 Stanley Cup final, starting with an unlikely upset of the Detroit Red Wings to open the first round of the playoffs.
The first step of a memorable eight weeks for Edmonton fans and those of us who covered the playoffs that season was a shaky one as the Oilers dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Former Oiler Kirk Maltby got the winner in that first game before Edmonton shocked everybody by prevailing in six games and this city lost its mind.
Nine years later, all those good feelings about the Oilers are a distant speck in the rear-view mirror, even if the memories remain. Long gone, as are the players who orchestrated all the drama. Time flies, as we are all reminded one way or another. My son Sam was born two months after the Oilers lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to Carolina. He turns nine this August and still hasn’t seen the Oilers in a playoff game.
When Fernando Pisani walked into the studio at TSN 1260 Wednesday to do a live hit on the Jason Gregor Show, a lot of those memories came flooding back. Fitting it was Pisani who triggered that trip down memory lane for me. Pisani, a local boy, was the unlikeliest of heroes, scoring 14 goals, including five game winners and an unforgettable shorthanded goal in Game 5 against the Canes that sent the series back to Edmonton.
Pisani was absolutely money then, when it mattered. Turns out he still is.
A GAME WORTH WATCHING
Plagued by a debilitating condition known as ulcerative colitis, Pisani never did manage to recapture the magic of that spring of 2006 with the Oilers or the Chicago Blackhawks before hanging up his skates in 2012. Settled in St. Albert, he’s a coach with the Alberta Golden Bears now.
Despite nine straight years out of the playoffs for the Oilers, Pisani still has games to play, and one of them is this weekend – Saturday at 7:15 at Servus Place in St. Albert. It’s a game that matters, so he’ll be there. That, not just the good, old days, was what Pisani was at the studio to talk about.
Pisani, now 38, and several other members of the Oiler alumni, including Jason Strudwick and Ryan Smyth, will lace up their skates and play a game against a team from the RCMP in support of the families of Constable David Wynn and auxiliary Constable Derek Bond.
Wynn, a 42-year-old father of three boys, was fatally shot and Bond was seriously injured when shot by a gunman at a St. Albert casino in January. Pisani, a father of three, calls it an event that struck close to home for him, as it did for so many. That’s why he decided to help and approached the RCMP.
Admission to the game is free for fans, but organizers ask that people who do come participate in a chuck-a-puck event that’s being held to raise funds. People will also be able to donate to the RCMP fund at the game.
No, it’s not an Oiler playoff game, but it’s a hockey game worth attending and one that’ll make you feel every bit as good as you did nine years ago, when Pisani was money. It’s a game that matters.
You can get more information about the game here.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.