Monday Mailbag – August 3rd

Mailbag

Is it really August already? At least that means we’re getting closer by the day to seeing our sweet Connor dawn an Oilers uni in real games. Until then you will have to settle for the mailbag. As always, I need your questions to make this segment work. If you have a question you’d like to ask you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. For now it’s time to grab a coffee and learn something. Enjoy.


1) Andrew asks – What is everyone’s opinion on the latest price plans for Rogers Place? And how do you think it’ll effect the atmosphere in the building from a fans perspective seeing as many longtime season ticket holders have suggested they might not be able to afford holding their seats when the new building opens?

Jeanshorts:

As a fan it obviously is not a great thing. I mean, to an extent I understand the price increase due to the new building, but they’re already expensive enough as is at Rexall, so any increase seems excessive at this point. Just to pay for myself to sit in the upper bowl and have a few beers costs me close to, if not more than $100 so I can’t even imagine trying to bring a family to a game at this point. And I think, worst case scenario, the building will start to look more like the Air Canada Centre; half the seats will be taken over by corporations and the lower bowl will be made up mostly of older men in expensive suits tapping away on their Blackberry’s rather than actually watching the game. I CAN’T WAIT!

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see it hurting the atmosphere. It sucks that some won’t be able to renew, but others will come in and the excitement will be fine. Oilers fans are jazzed up like they haven’t been since the 2006 Cup Run and the combination of a new rink and a competitive team will likely make the building more raucous than it has been the past nine years.

Lowetide:

It looks incredible! I hope families can afford to attend, because the Oilers right now matter to the entire population. Part of that comes from being able to see these men play live. If the Oilers become an exclusive product, there’s a danger that a large part of the fanbase will drift away.

Robin Brownlee:

Can’t say for sure until we know the renewal rate. That aside, the Oilers will be icing the best team they’ve had in a decade in a fancy new building, so I don’t see a negative impact on “atmosphere” compared to what we’ve seen at Rexall in the last nine seasons.

Baggedmilk:

The big problem with the price hike for tickets at the new barn is that less kids will be able to go. Taking your family for a night out will get really expensive if you’re looking at buying tickets for you and your kids. The atmosphere won’t suffer though. The Oilers are on the verge of being competitive for the first time in almost a decade – this is big news. Seeing a winning team will mean that people will dish out the sheckles to see it, and that includes me.

Smyth

2) Trev asks – What do you gentlemen think the impact of the 2006 playoff run has been? I am in my 30s and had the benefit of enjoying the great run and participating in the festivities. Where do you think the fan base would be if not for that playoff run? I can only remember the tail end of the glory years and if not for 2006 I’m not sure Edmonton would be selling out game after game.

Jeanshorts:

That’s a really interesting question. I have a hard time believing that the the 06 run is more responsible for the constant sell outs and non-stop support through these latest dark years than the promise of Hall/Ebs/Nuge/Yak/Drai/etc finally taking the team back to the promise land. But at the same time it did instil in the fans the hope that literally anything can happen if you make the playoffs. 

For me personally the 06 run really did cement my Oilers fandom; I bounced around from good team to good team as a child of the 90s, and we all remember how lean the early 2000s were. As a teen I almost begrudgingly started cheering for the Oilers because all of my friends did, as there was not much to hang your hat on as an Oilers fan back then. So maybe that run did have a similar effect on people our age as it did on me. It put the Oilers back on the map and, as I said before, made us believe that anything was possible after a seemingly improbable run. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go watch the CBC intro for game seven and weep like a baby for the 50,000th time.

Jason Gregor:

No doubt it garnered new fans. I think drafting Hall, RNH etc kept more fans believing than the Cup run. The Cup run helped for a few years, then team was terrible, but HOPE arrived in 2010 and that has kept fans holding on until now. It is impossible not to respect the loyalty of fans who purchased season tickets, mini packs or single games.

Lowetide:

I think the Oilers have gathered fans from the Glory Days, the Marchant goal and the 2006 run. I’m hopeful we can all share in a fabulous run together. It would be nice to party together on Jasper avenue, all the generations. I’ll wear my blue hair!!!

Robin Brownlee:

The 2006 playoff run bought management some time after a lot of bad years. That time long ago ran out and has been reflected by an increasing number of empty seats despite official sell-outs.

Baggedmilk:

The 2006 Cup run kept people in my age bracket hooked on hope. I turned 30 this year and I remember hitting up Whyte Ave every single night in that Cup run. The parties were legendary. I remember those nights vividly and I’m looking forward to when it happens again. 

Clark

3) Alexandre D. asks – What separates hockey players from other professional athletes? I think playing 82 games in a contact sport should be appreciated by other sports fans more than it is. Thank you in advance!

Jeanshorts:

I think you basically answered your own question; an NHL season combines the length of an NBA season with the full contact of the NFL. And on top of that you have to have the skill and coordination to not only skate, but to stick handle and shoot. I mean, I really love watching football, but how many times have we heard of guys in the NFL who didn’t even pick the game up until their last year of high school, or for some, in college? I mean, there are positions in football where, for all intents and purposes, you can excel at just by being big. Hockey combines so many different skills, and is played at such a high speed it boggles my mind sometimes that not everyone on earth is entertained by it. And as we’ve seen a million times over, if you can’t put that all together at a high level when you’re a CHILD, the odds of you making it as a pro are basically non-existent. That is a stupidly high level of difficulty if you ask me. As our friend the Royal Half would say, “LET’S SEE YOU DO IT ON SKATES LEBRON!”

Jason Gregor:

Every sport has different physical challenges. I don’t see hockey players being better, just different.

Lowetide:

I think hockey players are pretty normal people. Not a lot of standing on ceremony. They use the F-bomb MORE than we do!

Robin Brownlee:

The ability to master the unnatural skill of skating at the highest level. Wheeling around on the edges of metal blades is a lot more specialized than running, jumping and catching etc.

Baggedmilk:

What separates hockey players with other pro athletes is the fact that they play a contact sport for 82 games in a season. Basketball play 82 games but there’s no way it’s as physical as hockey. Baseball, of course, plays 162 games in a pro season and that’s because you can appear grossly out of shape and still make the pros if you’ve got the skills. You know it’s true.

Concussion

4) Oilfan28 asks – With concussions getting more attention by the day where do you see the future of fighting in the NHL?

Jeanshorts:

As long as the NHL remains a full contact game I don’t think we’ll ever see fighting completely go away. I don’t buy the “polices the game” aspect of it, but I completely understand how two guys scrapping reduces tension and leads to less stupidity like swinging a stick at another player’s head in the heat of the moment. I absolutely think there’s a place in the game for fighting, but as is already happening we’ll see a natural reduction in fighting as the years go on, and more and more emphasis is focused on skill and speed.

Jason Gregor:

Stats proved that only 3-4% of concussions occurred from fights. It grabbed the attention of some, but the reason fighting is down is because fewer teams dress guys who can only fight. There are fewer players who are willing to fight now and that means fewer fights. The players will decide how often fights occur, and with fewer willing participants I suspect the decline will continue, but it will never be out of the game, and I don’t believe it should be.

Lowetide:

It’s going the way of the Edsel. Look it up. Seriously. It was a thing. Edsel.

Robin Brownlee:

The vast majority of concussions aren’t caused by fighting, but to answer your question it’s obvious the aim is to reduce incidents of fighting, as has been the trend.

Baggedmilk:

Concussions will always be a part of contact sports whether they take fighting out of hockey or not. I think the guys that play the game know the risks and are willing to put themselves out there. If I had the chance at playing pro hockey knowing the risks of concussions I would do it in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t you? I bet the guys that are fighters in the NHL feel the same way every day. 

HockeyFights

5) Darryl Davis asks – Past or present who is/was the hardest NHL player to play against and why?

Jeanshorts:

I definitely would not want to be on the ice at the same time as Zdeno Chara. He’s a honest-to-goodness giant, and can just maul guys out there like a damn bear. I couldn’t imagine trying to stand in front of the net while Big Z lays his 45 foot long stick into the small of your back with the strength of a car crusher, let alone see him barrelling at you as you try to cut across the blue line! NO THANKS!

Jason Gregor:

Wayne Gretzky dominated his peers like no other.

Lowetide:

Kenny Meier. He was filthy. Now, this was floor hockey in 1971, so his stats aren’t at hockeydb.

Robin Brownlee:

Wayne Gretzky. Not the biggest. Not the fastest. Not the toughest. Career points leader by a $20 cab ride. Speaks for itself.

Baggedmilk:

A guy like Gretzky comes to mind because he was absolutely dominant but to me the hardest player to play against was Mark Messier. How many players got caught with a blindside elbow to the melon while the Moose was out there? Remember the Mike Modano clip where the paramedics drop the stretcher? Mark Messier. Remember when the captain of the Rangers guaranteed a win and then went out and scored a hat trick? Mark Messier. He could beat you with physicality or he could be you on the scoreboard. Mark Messier was a warlord and the toughest player to play against.

      • bazmagoo

        Everyone coasts in Vancouver. That is why they have no cups.
        Let’s not use a 40 year old Messier as the benchmark. Let’s take Messier 1984-1994. The man could break the opposing center’s stick on the face off at will. Then take out some poor opposing player with the chicken wing “fly by” elbow to the face. He is regarded as the greatest captain in pro sports ever.
        They’re not allowed to make them like that anymore.
        I would also include Bobby Orr in this comparison as well. He could drop the gloves. Look at his box scores. It’s a special breed that can get as many Penalty minutes as they can points and win every trophy available to them.

        • Serious Gord

          I think he was vastly overrated as a captain. He called his shot in New York and dined off of it since.

          Make no mistake, he was as nasty as there was in the league for a time, but he can’t hold a candle to captains like Toews, elway, bradey, beliveau, and probably a dozen others.

          And howe at 40, 45 and even 50 was a nasty sob – some say worst than ever when he was playing alongside his two sons.

      • Serious Gord

        Your argument was pretty null and void. Who would play for Vancouver back then that team was nothing special. The only good thing I remember about the years Moose had in Vancouver was watching him light it up at the All Star game with the Great One again, Gord. Vancouver back then was a just a bunch of heartless Russians and a few swedes that carried them, back stopped by future hall of gamer “cough” Kirk Mclean.

  • vetinari

    Hardest player to play against?

    Bit before my time but I have to vote for Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe. He was recently honoured in Saskatoon and the stories other people told were amazing. He scored, he fought and he competed every night into his fifties. Heck, I expect to take an elbow to the head just talking about Howe.

  • Mooseroni

    Sweet good article, as for the price of the tickets – I hope it won’t end up like the acc with a bunch of suits but hey the game looks a lot better on TV then 20 years ago.

    I would recommend checking out another division of hockey, good times to go watch ajhl or the golden bears

  • NJ

    NHL Game center package and an apple TV with a US I.P. guarantees seeing every game in high def, regardless of ticket prices. Plus, you can pause it or play it later. Excellent value. For the price of two tickets, I can pay for all of it.

  • 15w40

    I would think that there will be some folks that can’t manage the increase in ticket prices especially in the current economic climate that quite a few people find themselves impacted by.

    I wouldn’t really call the current price structure “family – friendly” for the majority. The last time I went to Rexall it costed $300.00 for just the two of us to watch a mean nothing game against the Wild in the nose bleeds.

    There is a slim chance that say an atypical family of 5 would ever attend a game together.

    It has already been discussed but for a price to the new shiny arena, I would rather spend an equal amount or slightly more to go to Glendale or to Las Vegas when they get a team to watch the Oilers play.

    I’m a bonified tier 2 fan for sure.

      • Butters

        Although it will never happen, it would be tremendous if Katz rewarded these faithful fans with a 0$ increase in year one. They’ve filled the building to watch the leagues worst team for 9 years and because of that allowed Katz to be able to negotiate a very favourable arena deal.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    I live near Vancouver and usually get in a couple of Oilers @ Canucks games at Rogers Arena, and i can tell you it’s no better here. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about penticton. 6 games (3 Oilers) for $60. Actually, we did VIP for $90. Deal. My brother and i will make a trip to the new arena next season. Can’t wait.

    As for the hardest to play against. I agree with all names so far. Hardest from an annoying standpoint, Esa Tikkanen hands down. Good two way game and would chirp at you relentlessly in multiple languages and you could understand none of what he was saying. His cellies would piss guys off too. One of those love him on your team only kind of guys.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    I do not know for sure but it seems that they current nose bleed section and the gallery seats will be forced into the upper bowl. You might have to sit in the upper level but behind the nets. Ultimately, season ticket holders may have to share their season tickets in order to go to the games. I am fine with that as I for one would not want to go to all of the games.

    Maybe the Oilers can offer partial season seat packages.

    • NJ

      The Oilers have packages on sale now for 3 games through I think 8 game packages. Not bad if you want to catch a few games a year. You can pick the area you want to sit in which determines the price. Sales started last Wednesday at 2 pm by draw (may have been a marketing ploy) and I would assume are open to everyone now.

      • Randaman

        I live in the NWT and bought a four game power pack last week. I think they are pretty much sold out!

        There weren’t many left but I got lucky with two seats (one right behind the other).
        Pumped for the McDavid era.

        Sharing seasons tickets is not a new thing and will probably be more popular with the new pricing but that isn’t a bad thing

      • bazmagoo

        I picked up a 4 game mini-pack last Tuesday (3 seats in Colonade).There were only a few pairs in Gold & Silver for all mini-packs. The rest in the Lower bowl were singles. There were very few pairs in the Upper bowl, but lots of scattered singles and a few spots where there were 4 or 5 seats in a row (Terrace). The Gallery didn’t even have that many seats available.
        The Oilers give priority to those mini-pack holder’s who have purchased in previous years. This was the least amount of selection I’ve seen over the past 5 years, which tells me that there are more and more people getting together and splitting season seats, which I believe will be the norm in Rogers Place.

  • Serious Gord

    Mr Katz cant forget this is Edmonton not Toronto.Only so many corporate dollars.Sure the fans will flock for the first 2 or 3 years,after that will see.I was at first game in the Edmonton coliseum 3 bucks aticket.How about a retro ticket price night .LOL
    Toughest players to play against Eddie Shore and Chris Pronger

  • NJ

    Yes Lowetide! The Marchant goal not only cemented me as a lifelong Oiler fan but turned me into a hockey fan. I’ve stuck it out through these dark days because I can still remember how I felt watching him score that goal.

  • Butters

    Jeanshorts
    Those “older men in expensive suits tapping away on their Blackberry’s” will be the only thing keeping the team in Edmonton.

    Your contempt for them should be directed elsewhere.

  • Serious Gord

    I know several seasons ticket holders – all lower bowl. A few of them don’t care about the cost – their companies buy them. Others MAKE money or break even by only attending about half of the games and selling the rest – tickets to other Canadian teams and original six make big money.

    The unrest was mounting however as the team remained chronically bad and those tickets were harder to move. I can only imagine how hard it was for seasons ticket holders in the upper sections.

    The new arena and mcdavid are like manna from heaven for seasons ticket holders – demand is way up making them either more profitable or a better perk for clients.

  • Serious Gord

    As for toughest to play against – I can’t imagine what it must have been like to go into the corner with Howe AND Lindsay coming down the wings.

    A friend who was a huge Devils fan years ago who watched lots of their games back in Stevens’ day said that Stevens would deliberately play soft in the middle leaving lots of room for forwards to move to and that he would let them go there time and again – sometimes for more than one game. And then when the forward would get too comfortable – wham!!!

    I remember some of the islanders players back in the day were nasty – potvin and tonelli being two.

      • Serious Gord

        Gillies when he was interested or pissed-off was tough/intimdating, but he coasted a lot otherwise – possibly the least deserving HHOF member outside of many leafs.

        Agreed on nystrom. It might be argued that that team might have been the most team-tough in history. Some Bruins teams might beg to differ.

        • Butters

          I watched an NHL Classics game between the Oilers and Islanders. And there was Nystrom skating around with both elbows up going out of his way to hit the Oilers with them. He might as well have left his stick on the bench.

    • fran huckzky

      For the second time in 30 days I am agreeing with Serious Gord. It must be the McDavid effect. I wasn’t an Islander fan and they were not avery good team in the early 70s but I happened to see them play in Oakland against the Seals. A young Denis Potvin was hitting guys not just to stop them but to hurt them. You could tell by the end of the game that Seals were totally avoiding his area of the ice.He wasn’t just tough,he was mean.

      • Serious Gord

        It was rumoured that potvin had a very violent upbringing. Possibly THE nastiest, borderline criminal player of his era. Living in eastern Canada I saw him play lots on TV – just vicious with opponents against the boards.

        But on that nyi dynasty team how many softies were there? Bossy, goring (maybe) ? Hell, even the goalie was a psycho.

  • Spydyr

    You know what party was legendary. The first Cup win on Jasper Avenue. Having been to each Cup celebration I can honestly say the first was by far the best.

  • Spoils

    Greatzky was the most dominant, for sure, but I think hardest denotes a physicality. The only thing Gretzky touched was the ice, the puck, and your soul.

    Not my era, but they did talk of Gordie Howe sharpening his elbows before games.

    Great question, and it makes me wonder: who’s the hardest guy right now?

  • CMG30

    Every year it seems that someone is complaining about the price of tickets to see a (insert league) game as if the price increase of the day was going to suddenly push all the regular fans out.

    The trouble with this narrative is that most kids and ‘regular’ fans were priced out of sports decades ago. Face it, if you made enough money to afford Rexall you are more than likely able to find something to satisfy you at Rogers prices even if you’re not happy about paying more for it.

  • bazmagoo

    @BaggedMilk “Basketball play 82 games but there’s no way it’s as physical as hockey.”

    Spoken like someone who’s never played basketball. Hockey is a touch more physical than basketball, but make no mistake it’s a hoop dream to think there is major gap between the physicality of the two sports.

    @Jason Gregor “Every sport has different physical challenges. I don’t see hockey players being better, just different.”

    Exactly

    • I don’t disagree with you. Basketball is a physical sport for sure, but it’s not in the same league as hockey. When I see Blake Griffin get crushed in the trolley tracks and KOd on the floor I’ll change my mind. I’m not saying basketball isn’t tough on the body, I just don’t think it’s in the same league as hockey.

      Again, both physical sports but one certainly has the edge over the other.

  • Butters

    The mix of expensive vs cheaper seats is also changing. There may not enough cheap seats to satisfy the demand and plenty of the too expensive seats. It also remains to be seen if there will be much of a season ticket discount.

  • fran huckzky

    I do not like the new pricing for tickets. The economy is swirling down the toilet like the deuce i just dropped. Increase in tickets was expected when the city caved to an eccentric billionaire (who could barely be bothered to show up in person) but not to this greedy extent. Im noticing the people complaining are forgetting that tickets AND merch AND food AND beer prices also increased but almost all of our collective paychecks didnt. Im sure those who will go can afford it, but the majority of fans may decide “tier 2” is good enough.

    The toughest player around was probably that last goalie who refused to wear a mask (andy brown). That just lunacy.

    One last thing, i laughed hard at the “hope arrived in 2010”. Thanks Gregor, that was a good one. Sometimes you are very funny.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    You can say all you want about toughness in all other sports but the fact that a superstar like #99 can be so dominant in the record books and yet a team with him on it does not necessarily win the Stanley cup let alone make playoffs. This is so much more a total team game mixed with physicality than any of the other big 4 north American sports. In the NBA there are a small group of players on each team that will be on the court for most of the game and will chalk up most of the points. Because of this you can be quite sure that the top seeds with win a championship. In MLB the physicality is limited to contact around the bases. Other than that the pitchers and hitters rule the game most of the time. In football it all centers around the QB his protection and receivers. Because you only have to lean one part of the game (Offense or Defense) it is a much simpler game to play. There is just nothing like hockey it is much more complex than the other sports due to the speed, surface area and physicality. You have to have 3 lines because unlike baseball you can not play at your resting heart rate. IMO hockey players are the most skilled athletes in North America.

  • fran huckzky

    I have had a one-fourth share in a pair of season tickets since 1978-79, the final year of the WHA.

    Our current seats are in the Colonade price sector in the Upper Bowl and for 2015-16 will cost $2,384.10 each. It appears that comparable seats in the new arena will cost $3,250 or $3,875.

    We haven’t visited the Presentation Centre yet to find out for sure what the price will be, but we are sure it will be a significant increase.

    We are committing to seats for the first year, to ensure we get the experience, but we’re a longshot to continue in the long-term. I suspect there are other long time season ticket holders having a similar mindset.

    It is very obvious to me that the seating options and pricing are planned for corporate clients and not for the ordinary unconnected fans.

    Another point is that the pricing for mini-packs is much more expensive on a per game basis than are season tickets.

  • NJ

    Honestly,Scott Stevens was CHEAP.Anyone who had any skill playing a higher level of hockey could line a guy up w/ his head down.I personally chose not to when i played as i had some integrity.!!!!!!!Same goes for Raffi Torres,CHEAP!!!!!

  • ubermiguel

    Lidstrom is on record as saying Lemiuex was harder to play against than Gretzky; granted Gretz was past his prime when Lidstrom entered the league. Howe and Messier were cut from the same cloth.

  • Oilers4ever

    Not sure why all the complaints exist on ticket prices. Still cheaper I’ll bet than Toronto or Montreal. And the article I read on ticket prices had some ranges lower than rexall. The atmosphere will be 100 times better than it is now….