The 2015-16 Oilers season is on the horizon and coming
towards us with breakneck speed. Excitement is beginning to build in some
camps, indifference reigns supreme in others. In other camps still, many former Oilers
fans remain faithful to their new past times discovered since the Oilers
developed an enchanting habit of sucking these past eight years.
You might want to turn off Netflix, log out of Fantasy
Football and stop paying attention to your loving spouse and children, former
Oilers fans. I have this sneaking suspicion that none of us – in any of the
camps – have any idea the magnitude of what is about to occur.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand of the history of our
collective fandom, hit reset on all the crap we are mad about and
reignite our excitement and passion for the team.
WHAT IS HAPPENING? – GOTTA HIT RESET
I for one think that Connor McDavid living with Taylor Hall
is a profoundly bad idea. I know that Jason Gregor wrote a good article the other day saying that Hall is growing up and he is only 23/24 and these are
all points that may be valid. Gregor knows more than I do about the Oilers and sports and life in general and that is something I can set my watch by. Gregor taking Hall’s side means a lot in my books as I don’t lay eyes on players personally and he talks to them daily.
However, I am of the opinion that people don’t change. You have a
buddy that borrowed cash from you and never paid you back? Don’t lend him money
again – people don’t change. You busted your girlfriend creepin’ on you with
some other fly gangsta in the club? You need to pitch her homie – she won’t
Same with Taylor Hall.
I haven’t seen anything during his five year career where I thought, “Wow, that guy is a leader! Look at him overcome adversity and show everyone what being an Oiler is about. Look at him talk to a player on the ice and pump him up. Look at him get Yakupov feeling good about himself despite a bad shift. Look at the positivity, look at him stand up for his teammates in the media and show what it means to be an Oiler. Look at the shining example he sets in the community and in the streets.”
Every sulk on the
bench, every time he skated off the ice while his teammates were getting
slapped around, every time cameras caught him texting in the press box during a
5-0 loss on HNIC — I recognize he takes a lot of undeserved crap from people online and in person and has every right to enjoy the fruits of his labour off the ice. But I know exactly who you are Taylor – I have been paying close attention since day zero.
Great men like Gregor might try and convince themselves you have character to match your supreme physical gifts, but I am not
buying it. People don’t change. And that goes for too many of the current Oilers, too. This is a team that is painfully short on grit and character and as the standings will attest these past few years, skill and a me first attitude will get you a pretty short way up the NHL standings.
If Hall is who we want showing the King of Kings around town
and tucking him into bed at night, fine. Because at the end of the day it
doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t really matter if it was Tito or Jermaine that roomed with
MJ on the road while on tour. He is still gonna get up the next day, put on his
dancing shoes and blow the roof off the arena. Anyone remember if Jermaine was a good bass player? Exactly.
And if Randy can’t keep up on the dance line, MJ will just
go solo and drop Thriller. Second string teammates with bruised egos and bad attitudes will hold him back for
0.00013 seconds before he steps forward into the spotlight and shows everyone
what a moonwalk is, leaving everyone else in the dust and forcing the new regime’s hand – shipping them out of town for new backup dancers who will play their
roles with a smile on their faces.
It doesn’t matter who the Deputy Assistant to the Director of Hockey Operations and Business is. It doesn’t matter about the disconnect between ticket prices and on ice performance in tough times. It doesn’t matter that the organization is giving us the middle finger with one hand and has the other hand out for more money for beers and tickets and a new arena.
It doesn’t matter how many dozens of executive offices there suddenly are at Oilers HQ, gleefully cashing Daryl Katz’s cheques in exchange for single eyebrow raising work. I don’t know what else he can throw his money at to try and get this thing turned around but half the hockey world is now employed by the team it seems – to no avail thus far. And thank the Gods he is one of the richest people in the world. He is gonna have to sign the largest contract in NHL history in three short years. I’m gonna start buying medication I don’t even need from Rexall to do my part to ensure the dough is there when the time comes.
SIGH – GOTTA HIT RESET
Dammit Wanye. This is precisely the kind of negative thinking that I need
to wipe from my brain with a great reset. I gotta stop feeling and thinking like this. Life is short and you gotta decide how long you want to be mad about things you cannot change. I love the Oilers more than any of my fellow human beings, as so many of us do, and that’s why so many people are rightfully angry or indifferent after this long struggle.
I want Taylor Hall to win Art Ross trophies in Oilers silks, be named one of Time’s top 100 people and be given the Order of Canada in his old age. I’d never wish anything bad upon anyone in an Oilers jersey, I just want to win before I am an old man with dementia and can’t even remember what the good times were like anymore. 2006 is already fading into the mists of time and has moved from medium term memory to the long term memory vault with my precious memories of Doug Weight and a curly haired Justin Timberlake. I want more so damn bad. We all want more.
Prior to the Hockey Gods bestowing us
with the gift of a generation, there were few happy Oilers fans left on Earth.
Anyone who liked the team and/or the direction they were heading in
should drop what they are doing and report to the nearest MRI machine for a cat scan.
Many formerly great Oilers fans I have talked to have lost
interest in the team years ago. Rewind a couple seasons and you could get them
to at least gripe about the team in conversation, call someone on the team
“overrated” or maybe show the odd glimmer of hope. They have since tuned out,
dropped out and moved on with their lives. Can’t say that I blame them.
A second group of Oilers fans have been paying rapt
attention the entire time and are super mad. There are a million things they can be rightfully rattled about – take a gander at a comments section on any given article for exhibits A-ZZZ. I feel for these passionate fans and they are right on many counts – there are a ton of things to be legit mad about with this franchise for all eternity.
But the supremely good times are right around the corner, wrapped in a blue and orange bow and delivered straight to rookie camp with a 97 painted on the back. It’s time to hit reset and put the old beefs to
bed. Not much from the past matters now. In fact the Oilers could trade every
single player on the roster from last year in the next two years, asking Con Con personally
who he wants to play 7D and the only direction the team will go is up in the
McDAVID WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING
Connor is going to
go out on the ice in one of the first few games, do a dangle we have never seen
since the invention of ice in 1921, and snipe so hard the goal light behind the
net will explode. Wallets will rain down on Daryl Katz’s luxury box, thrown in ecstasy by Edmontonians in jubilant celebration. All the hair on our arms and backs will stand on end then immediately burst into flames and suddenly
it won’t matter a lick whether Taylor Hall is a leader or not, whether
Jultz is a Norris Candidate or whether Anton Lander has the upside that scouts
once predicted. The big piece of a new puzzle has arrived and he will skew all
performances of the rest of the band upwards.
And for the Oilers that have been doing their best sweating bullets night in and night out but haven’t been able to change the culture of losing or move the needle on the win-o-meter – they are about to come into their own.
All I’ve ever wanted to do was get turnt up and watch the
Oilers throttle teams at their leisure and then go to the Pint and celebrate as
though I personally scored the GWG. The Oilers took my prime celebrating years
away from me and I will never forgive them for that except that I have already
forgiven them for that and have bought every piece of McDavid swag commercially
available and some bootleg stuff as well. And it’s not like I have grown up in the past eight years — I can still throw down any time I want. Wanye Manor is still a mess of beer cans with an Oilers flag nailed to the wall. The Oilers party is still gonna happen even if it is late.
Loving the Oilers is what we all do – we will line up hours
in advance for the all you can eat shit buffet they have been serving up since
2007 and eat as many plates as we can before they close and chuck a 20% tip on
the bill for the waiter. That unbelievable loyalty is why the Hockey Gods hooked up a final #1 pick
despite being one of the most unlikable franchises in recent memory.
GOTTA SHAKE IT OFF – GOTTA HIT RESET
I have fallen off the writing train because I didn’t want to
say negative things about the team I love despite it being broken on too many levels. At first it was temporary, then it was funny, then it stopped being funny. Gregor told me when we started working together that “if this site takes off you will find
out too much information about things behind the scenes and the 12 year
old fan boy in you will eventually die and it will become a business.*”
I learn way slower than most and the 12 year old in me didn’t die, but he has certainly been
rocking back and forth sitting in the corner bawling while the house burned to the ground.
With every failed season in front of increasingly quiet and later invisible sell out crowds, with
every tier two comment at a press conference – the horror of what we were all witnessing
grew. The mind boggling disdain the organization showed for the great City of
Edmonton and Oilers fans around the world, while simultaneously upping prices
and lowering expectations below zero, has added up to a worst case scenario for eight loooong years now.
Things have a funny way of working themselves out though, and us
Oilers fans are about to get what we deserve times 97. Negativity will be swept away by the winds of McDavid and everyone on the
roster that doesn’t want to get on board with the new program can gtfo of the way and watch the
Oilers destroy everyone on SportsNet highlights, regretting in their old age how close they came
to being caught up in Connor’s orbit before being kicked out of the rocket
before it shot to the moon.
And a salute to the Oilers players that are about to dig deep and shake off disappointing stretches of their respective careers and remember how to win again. A salute to those who are going to have to remember what it takes to win games despite expectations since their arrival in Edmonton being lower than low. It could not have been easy to play in an environment like that and whatever disappointment we feel in the stands is felt 100x on the ice.
*Loose paraphrasing of what I remember being said, JG is more eloquent than that
BACK TO WORK – GOTTA HIT RESET
We all have to put all that old business behind us and start looking
forward to the future. Turned off fans need to get back to reading and watching everything about the team. I gotta get back to writing, gotta get back to tweeting, gotta get back to cheering. We all gotta put the Oilers back on the top of the ladder of priorities regardless of
what responsibilities we all may have gotten in the meantime. I gotta think about what a blogger from a good Oilers team looks like and how he becomes public enemy #1 of bloggers of the other 29 inferior teams.
I finally gotta figure out what the #1 fan of Connor McDavid and his Oilers looks like and then turn up way past the point of sanity. I have a job to do. We all have a job to do.
Rant over. In 13 months, Connor McDavid will be wearing Oilers silks, skating in the nicest arena in the league. Becoming an Oilers fan is about to get amazing again.