What started off with an afternoon in Churchill Square ended in a Canucks ass kicking and a farewell to an old barn that holds a lot of memories, and a lot of hockey history.
I really do hope that the night came off as good on TV as it did when you were there, because Rexall Place was electric last night. I was lucky enough to be in the building, and that was the loudest that I’ve heard the crowd in a while. And I’m not talking about the “holy hell what did McDavid just do” kind of loud, I’m talking about the roar that no face-holes on the planet can make quite like Edmonton Oilers fans. I’m talking about the type of Rexall roar that can send shivers up your spine. It had been a while.
Did anybody else get worried when about 10 minutes had gone by before the Oilers had even registered a shot on goal? Rexall got reaaaal quiet for a few minutes. I was looking around and some people were already shaking their heads. I had a few Canucks fans sitting in front of me that were literally praying that the Oilers would blow it. I could hear them joking about how funny it would be when the Canucks “pump(ed) em’ for six” in the last ever game at the pillbox. They didn’t say a word for the rest of the game.
At the end of the day, it’s always a good game if the Canucks lose but this one was different. After the first 10 minutes were out of the way, and Yakupov put the Oilers up by a goal, the fans at Rexall started to liven up. As pucks continued to go in, the crowd started getting louder and louder. It was fun to look around and see people on the edge of their seats rather than spending most of the night on Twitter. By the time Connor McDavid scored to put the Oilers up by three goals Rexall Place was on fire, and the atmosphere was electric and only seemed to get louder. By the time the Oilers hit six goals the place was ready to blow up.
- I had a terrible allergy attack when a video of Paul Laurieau showed up on the screen to have him sing the anthem one last time. My eyes were welling up… because of the allergies. I guess everyone else must have had the same allergies. They should really get an air filter in there.
- Anytime the Canucks lose it’s a good day.
- GRETZKY TUCKED HIS JERSEY IN!
- Speaking of Gretzkys, Walter tore the roof of the place. At each home game the Oilers had been giving away a legend’s jersey to a season ticket holder and last night I assumed it would be Wayne. When Walter walked out the place absolutely erupted.
- Connor McDavid is so special to watch and to see him put up three points almost seems like a bonus. I’m not surprised that he put on a show considering the magnitude of the game. He’s a big time player, and it was fitting for Connor to close down the old barn.
- Like McDavid, Taylor Hall stepped his game up for the last home game at Rexall. After the game Hall admitted that it will be nice to go to work at the new arena and try to put all the negativity of the past ten years behind them.
- How can you not love Pat Maroon? The guy comes in, scores two goals, and he looked like he was soaking in the atmosphere. I love this guy.
- I loved seeing Nail Yakupov pick up the puck after he scored the first goal of the night. That may well have been the last goal he scores as an Oiler and I’m happy that it will be memorable for him. Bonus points go out to how excited Yakupov looked as he walked out for the closing ceremony. I’ll miss him.
- The ovation for Ryan Smyth was one of the loudest of the night, and it’s no secret how much this city loves that man. Almost surprisingly, Smytty held it together despite being unable to speak for nearly a minute before the crowd quieted down.
- I hope the Oilers put up the video montages they were playing on the screen during commercials breaks. There were a lot of cool moments from over the years and they did a good job putting montages together.
- In a way I was jealous that I didn’t get to hear Bob Cole call the game. When he was giving his speech, on the ice, all I could think about was that that was the voice I grew up on.
- Speaking of voices I grew up on, I will never get tired of hearing Rod Phillips goal calls and I was happy the Oilers gave him a shout out because he certainly deserves is.
- I was great to see so many different generations of Oilers all in one place. They brought back guys from the WHA days all the way to the current and they were all mixed together for the closing ceremony. It was especially cool to look down and seeing the now Oilers talking to the legends that came back into town. There are so many guys that I was excited to see again and I could bang out a list of 100 guys, but you guys know who was there. Let me know in the comments about who you were most excited to see again.
- There was no better way to close down the ceremony than by having Joey Moss bring down the #FarewellRexallBanner. Joey Moss is the greatest Oiler of all time, and I will arm wrestle anyone that disagrees with me.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 7, 2016
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) April 7, 2016
Ryan Smyth, your best will always be good enough for me. #FarewellRexallPlace
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) April 7, 2016
HOW CAN OILERS FANS BE THE FIRST STAR WHAT OF THE SANCTITY OF THE MOLSON CUP STANDINGS
— Wanye (@WanyeGretz) April 7, 2016
Paul Lorieau belting out the anthem one last time. Former video coach Brian Ross part of pre-game ceremonies. Classy move. God bless, Rossco
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) April 6, 2016
These fans are going to be exhausted at half-time. #GoodbyeRexall
— Lowetide (@Lowetide) April 7, 2016
Shoutout to everyone. What a night. #FarewellRexallPlace
— Jeanshorts (@JSBMjeanshorts) April 7, 2016
— baggedmilk (@jsbmbaggedmilk) April 7, 2016
— Chris Gordeyko (@TheNationChris) April 7, 2016
GOODBYE, OLD GIRL
As much as I am excited to watch games in the new arena I have to say that I was sad leaving the old rink, last night. I remember the first game my dad took me to. He had won tickets at work and told me that we were going out for dinner. I had no idea that dinner meant we were going to Rexall Place for hot dogs. I don’t remember the score of the game, but I remember that the Oilers were playing Detroit and the place was only half full. After the game, my dad took me down into the basement to stand in front of the Oilers dressing room, and wait for autographs.
I remember Bill Ranford signing my game program and telling me to work hard if I ever wanted to play in the NHL. I remember Chris Joseph signing my hat after pretending he was going to take it to me. I remember when the Oilers and Eskimos used to put on the Carnival of Champions and I was able to shoot foam pucks on Fred Braithwaite, and get a tour of the press box from Mariusz Czerkawski. He gave me and my friend, Matt, popcorn and a fountain pop. We were the last tour of the day and he just happened to be up there. I remember the way the building shook during the 06 Cup run, and how red my hand was after high-fiving what seemed like 1000s of strangers.
I remember the countless concerts, and the hundreds of dollars I spent on concert tshirts and beer. My first ever concert at Rexall was Our Lady Peace when I was about eight years old. My dad let me go with a friend and I remember feeling like the big man on campus that my old man let me roll with a buddy despite being so young. I remember going to see Korn when I was 14, and walking around the concourse with my friend Curt and trying to see if we could find someone that would buy us beer. I remember paying a fortune to sit on the other side of the arena to watch Paul McCartney’s last show. I saw Motley Crue a bunch of times, Metallica, blink-182, Black Sabbath, Muse, the Killers, Ozzy, Kiss, the list goes on and on.
To me, Rexall Place was a place that I made a lot of memories with my friends and family, and I will miss going there on a regular basis. I was lucky enough to go to a lot of hockey games/comedy shows/rodeos/monster trucks/concerts and it’s bittersweet that we’ll all be moving on to greener pastures. Regardless of how bad the Oilers have been over the past 10 years it never stopped us from having a good time at the place they used to call home. Although there are new memories to make, and stories to write, I’ll never forget the old barn and all the memories that I have from the 100s of nights/afternoons that I’ve spent there.
Goodnight, old girl. We’ll never forget you.