I still can’t fathom what has happened to the Oilers in the
past eight days. The draft lottery was the stuff of Oilers’ fight songs in 100 years time but a total house cleaning at the top, too? I still stick to my two theories that I either died sometime on the evening of the 17th of April and this is heaven or I’m currently in a coma and this is all a dream.
Whatever the case,
if my wishes keep getting granted at this rate I should be married to Natalie
Portman by 2 PM next Thursday. Everyone is welcome to attend the ceremony and
the nine day non-stop party afterwards.
I cannot think of a more dramatic reversal of fortune in professional sports than that of our beloved Edmonton Oilers in April 2015. A squadron and
organization that has looked disenfranchised, disheartened and disinterested in
doing much of anything to climb out of their nine year hole has suddenly landed
the best player in the last 25 years with superstud Connor McDavid falling
squarely into our shocked laps.
This was timed perfectly with the results of the forensic
audit conducted by our new favourite Uncle Bob Nicholson who wisely concluded that
most everyone at the top of the organization needed to go and was mysteriously
given the green light to make whatever moves he saw fit. Then with the stroke of a
platinum pen he did exactly that – sweeping away the Cobwebs on Kingsway in a
single press conference. In the course of 48 hours he has made more decisions
than a Tambo + MacT combo reign ever did.
This flurry of activity then triggered a statement from
Kay-Z thanking everyone for their hard work and the next day Peter Chiarelli – former Bruins GM and noted risk taker – was signed as General Manager of the
Oilers. If we all live for 100 more years and watch nothing but sports all around
the world 24/7 you will never see anything like this ever again.
Rewinding back 10 days, most Oilers fans felt like we had
been smashing our heads fruitlessly against a cinder block wall for the better
part of nine years. They were hard smashes that truly hurt too, as we were forced to watch endless hot garbage while the team we love so dearly emptied our wallets and wished us the best with a pat on the head at the end of each season.
Smash. Smash. Smash. Only to suddenly crash through to wall into the room on the other side. And
this new room contains treasures so valuable that the near decade of seemingly fruitless
head smashing is suddenly worthwhile.
Turns out all these years we had been tunnelling our escape.
Imagine the following arrangement was tabled by the Hockey Gods post
SCF06G7: “The Oilers will be the worst team in the league over the next nine years. Joyous moments
will be rarer than hen’s teeth but at the end of it you will have four first
picks overall in six years, including the best player since who knows when? Oh and a Billionaire owner who will spend to the cap annually and the nicest brand new arena in the NHL to watch it all in.”
I would have take that deal in an E-town
minute. We have paid the cost in blood and tears over the past nine years for the next nine years.
Suddenly I see why Daryl Katz is a billionaire running the
world and I once accidentally pooped in the bathtub at age six and had to do a
hurried cleanup worthy of an Oil spill so that I didn’t get caught.
Maybe billionaires know when to strike and have a master plan that works on
their timeline, not ours.
Or maybe luck plays such an central role in life – for
better or worse – that all you can really do is keep smashing your head against
the wall as hard as you can trusting that things will eventually get better and
you will break through eventually.
THE FINAL DAYS B.C.
Like most of the remaining Oilers fans I was finally sick to death of
standing up for my beloved home team. As a passionate fan I have been forever attacking
people online and in person who had the temerity to call out the Oilers to my
face. But as losses piled up faster than we could believe and the organization on
and off the ice showed a declining interest in turning things around it became harder and harder to defend the logo I love.
MacT’s press conference at the end of the season was a final
Ronaldoesque bicycle kick to balls. Here was a very smart man who had claimed only a
couple short seasons ago that losing was unacceptable and bold moves were in
order who had since seemingly given up entirely writing off next season as
developmental. As we all looked to the top of the food chain for answers and a plan it became clear there was none. Watching the final B.C. presser I had a sense of dread that things might be
truly permanently screwed and we might become the new Chicago Cubs. In
a decade of bad Oilers related feelings, this was a first.
And then the miracle of miracles occurred, the Oilers did a
900 degree turn and here we are.
Make no mistake the Oilers have a couple
missing pieces before they are locked and fully loaded. But man oh man some
giant pieces have just appeared out of nowhere and snapped firmly into place.
And if there is ever a long suffering legion of passionate fans that
deserves to have this reversal handed to it on a platinum serving platter, it is
us Oilers fans.
Having had dirt kicked in our faces by everyone including our own management and
organization and a 23 man roster who to a man remained silent when Edmonton was
recently named the least desirable place to play in the NHL, we have suddenly been thrown a lifeline for
WAIT AND WATCH
Watch City Councillors suddenly defer on changing the name away from the City of Champions as they hedge their bets on the McDavid era.
Watch how fast many of these same weasels in the dressing room will now declare
Edmonton to be a great place to play and will publicly congratulate themselves
on the determination in the room to trudge through the dark times.
know who you all really are and in the McDavid era I can’t help but think that Chiarelli –
the man who fearlessly traded Seguin because of some things he would rather not
get into – will continue to clean house on the ice until only good Oilers
Let the North Saskatchewan river be clogged with their
bodies and let the new Oilers use them as a bridge as they cross the river
into Edmonton. You had your chance. Now get the hell out of the way.
BC vs AD
If you rewind the tape back far enough to the summer of 2006
and look at all the incredibly bad things that have happened to this franchise
and Oilers fans around the world it has all the while been nudging us down the path to
where we are today. Every single failed
trade, every Oiler who left town only to get good somewhere else. All of the
passion-free play on the ice from Oilers of dubious distinction and the
befuddled looks from the press box as things went from bad to worse to worser to
Oilers 2014-15 Bad.
If all the 2006 players that bounced hadn’t fled town we wouldn’t be here. If the Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson rebuild had been legit we wouldn’t be here. If they hadn’t let Petry walk for nothing or Dubnyk had decided he was 2015 Dubnyk in 2013, we wouldn’t be here. If
Tambo hadn’t assessed himself right out of office and MacT had found a bold
move or two under the couch, we wouldn’t be here. We would be a smidge higher in
the standings, still out of the playoffs looking in and Connor McDavid would be wearing someone else’s jersey in a few short weeks. No chance we would have anywhere near the team we will be rabidly cheering on going forward.
They say that looking in the rearview mirror you can’t always read the
signs as to where you are headed. In my lifetime I have been as positive as I could and have worked
hard for everything I have ever had. Potentially good things on the horizon
were visible long before they arrived and I had to stretch to the point of
breaking before they were in my grasp. And many other times these ships of good fortune continued to sail past and I was left on my own to regroup and try again.
I hadn’t really believed in miracles or
bolts of lightning out of the sky making things better.
It truly has made me rethink things at a fundamental level. You really never know what is going to
SO NOW WHAT?
I think the Oilers will win a Stanley Cup within five
years and eight years after it began OilersNation will finally rise.