GLORY DAYS

I was young and prone to terrible decisions, making me a typical North American male in the 1980s. If you called me on the phone in 1984, and suggested a beer run to Cranbrook (there were beer strikes in the 1980s), I would delay only long enough to find a (semi) clean shirt. I believed in beer, fun, keeping my job by putting in exactly enough effort to stay below the event horizon, and the Edmonton Oilers. Those are the facts.

Edmonton in the 1980s was a smaller place than it is now, but we had a lot of fun and did as many dumb things as this generation every day—and then did some more dumb things during the night time. The Oilers (and the Eskimos, who were world class during this period) gave the city and its fans some major swagger.

I well remember my father-in-law saying he was thankful that the Oilers finally missed the playoffs in 1993. Why, I asked? The answer was something like ‘you have been an ass about them since I met you’ and that is probably fair.

Being young, I thought the Oilers (and me) would win every year and they damned near did you know. In 1983 the young Oil had to learn how to win, in 1986 there was a wobble (which set up the 99 to Steve Smith Stanley handoff the following year) and in 1989 the Hockey Gods decided to reward the Calgary Flames for a decade of heartbreak. Beyond that? Even in 1991 and 1992 the Oilers were formidable and they were running on beer and beans by then.

Today, in Winnipeg, we see the boys on the bus one more time, and this feels final. I no longer believe in beer alone, I have kids and worries and wake up in the middle of the night instead of going to bed at that time. Weekends are to be looked forward to, but in a different way. I have been blessed in my life, and one of the things I value greatly is my memories of these 1980s Oilers. I loved them, still do.

If this is the last time, then thanks are in order. Thanks to Wayne and Mark and Jari and Kevin and Lee and Grant and Paul and Andy and all of them. The experience of this fan, in that era, was music and magic. Sail on, men. You will never be forgotten in Edmonton and in all of the hockey world.

Oh. And beat the Jets. Thanks.

  • I’ll never forget what Gretzky said about the ’83 series against the Islanders and how it made them into a future dynasty. Walking past the Islanders locker room they noticed all those great Islander Players: Billy Smith, Mike Bossy, etc…and they looked like they went to hell and back again. Bloody, bruised, beaten up and exhausted. Gretzky knew what it took from that moment on to win the Cup…rest is history, as they say. When the alumni players/current players had their dinner Friday Night, this is the driving point: You can’t win as individuals, doesn’t matter the talent you have. You have to sacrifice everything as a team to reach that pinnacle of success. This is why it’s important to have these players around. Experience. It is like the story of a Young Bull and the mature, older Bull on top of a hill. The younger Bull notices a bunch of beautiful cows down in the pasture, “Hey, let’s run down there and F#CK one of them..” The Older Bull looked at the younger, inexperience bull and replied, “No. Why run and scare most of them off? When we can simply walk down and F#CK them all…” Can’t substitute experience.