Monday Musings: The Library

The Edmonton Oilers are tied for first place in the Pacific Division. Connor McDavid leads the NHL in scoring with 34 points in 27 games, and he has a five-point lead on Nikita Kucherov.

There are many reasons for Oilers fans to be excited, especially after years of futility. However, Rogers Place might be the quietest rink in the NHL. Some have looked to give it a nickname and through 13 home games the most accurate one might be ‘The Library’.

Why is it so quiet?

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This is not a new phenomenon at Oilers games. Edmonton has always been a quieter barn in the regular season, but during the playoffs it becomes a madhouse.

Of course, the atmosphere will be better in the playoffs, but why such a drastic change between October and March compared to April, May and June?

I’ve heard many theories over the years, but having been to many rinks around the league I believe there are a combination of factors, and a few small tweaks could make it a much livelier arena on game nights.

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THEORIES

Homer Thinking

  • The tickets are expensive so “real” fans can’t go.

    I don’t agree. Yes, they are expensive, but Edmonton still has a very high percentage of season ticket holders who are not corporations. Many average Joes/Jills have tickets and go to games.

  • The lower bowl is all corporate and they don’t cheer.

    I’ve always wondered why people think if you wear a suit it means you are too good to cheer. I don’t believe your job or salary determines you ability or willingness to cheer. Last night the wave was started in the lower bowl in the section right behind the Oilers bench. It took three of four tries to get going, but they kept at it, because there was nothing to miss on the ice. The game was horrifically boring.

  • The Oilers have been terrible and there hasn’t been much to cheer about.

    It is true they have been brutal. The Decade of Darkness almost broke the spirit of even the most diehard fan. But the Oilers aren’t in the basement this year, plus they have an exciting team. They are seventh in goals scored, 14th in goals against and they have McDavid. He’s a human highlight reel every night.

    After so many years of losing you’d think the first sign of winning would have people exploding, because they haven’t had much to cheer for in ten years.

I’m not sure any of those theories are the reason the rink has been woefully quiet this year. Here are the issues I see and some small recommendations to fix the problem.

CHANGES NEEDED


Edmonton has been historically a reserved crowd in the regular season. This goes back to the 1980s when the Oilers were winning regularly. Once the playoffs arrived the decibel level increased dramatically, but many nights in the regular season it was very quiet.

Edmonton is a blue collar city. People work hard and rarely toot their own horn. We are a quiet, confident bunch and I wonder if the polite, reserved nature of people in their everyday life impacts how they are as fans. I don’t have a psychology degree, but it seems like many fans don’t feel the need to get excited until the postseason.

The other main issue is how the the Oilers’ in-house entertainment doesn’t help much. Their majority of in-game experience consists of panning to people in the crowd at every break. I’m sorry, but an endless run of fans smiling and waving while on the big screen doesn’t do much other than have them smiling and waving.

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While the music has improved, it still doesn’t have a vast array of tunes that get the blood flowing.

It also doesn’t help that certain ushers scowl at any fan who stands up and cheers or starts a chant. God forbid they add some emotion in the building. It’s almost as though the Oilers don’t want any organic chants. They want fans to sit quietly, smile when the camera pans to them during breaks and, whatever you do, don’t be too loud, because you supposedly could distract someone beside you from watching the game.

There has to be a middle ground where fans can cheer without being chastised for it, because as it stands Edmonton is one of the quietest rinks in the NHL. Every visiting media person I speak with notices it.

SOME IDEAS

Questions

  • Oilers get a PP and the in-game production crew does nothing. Have better production. One of best things I’ve seen was in Colorado for an NLL game. When the opposing team got a penalty the announcer would say, “Number five, two minutes for roughing,” and the crowd would stand and yell, “Get in the box!” and point to the penalty box. It adds excitement for the upcoming power play. The place was electric and it was a very simple thing, but every time the opposition got a penalty the crowd stood up and the anticipation for the ensuing powerplay was better than other rinks I called games in.
  • There are other things the Oilers can do. They have the best big screen in the NHL — use it for more than showing fans sitting down and staring at camera hoping to get on the big screen. It is overdone and to be honest adds zero intensity.

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  • Last night the game went to OT and they played a lame montage of fans in their seats, some taking selfies of themselves and not even looking at the camera. This does not generate excitement. Play some highlights, like Draisaitl’s OT winner from the Saturday night. It isn’t that hard — just put in some effort rather than resort to crowd shots. Show some previous OT winning goals. Get fans excited about the OT.
  • Or come up with some chants other than “Let’s Go Oilers”. That can be fine at times, but simple ones like “Con-ner, Con-ner!” before a PP would work. Anything to add some noise and energy. Last season Patrick Maroon was gushing last when during the final game at Rexall fans chanted “Maroooooooonn”. He was overwhelmed by it post game. He loved it and I was floored when the Oilers didn’t have a quick little video reminding fans about the chant on opening night when he scored the first goal ever at Rogers. It was a perfect opportunity, completely missed.
  • Pick a few of the Oilers players or some of the musicians who play at Rogers place and have them in a pre-packaged video starting a chant or “Let’s get loud!”. Package it so it grabs people’s attention, because just showing pan shots of the crowd every stoppage in play adds zero excitement in the building.
  • Fans get creative. Start a chant or something. Jets fans in Winnipeg are great. Things like chanting “Crosby’s better” when they play Ovechkin are simple and add some energy.
  • I believe it has to be a collaboration between the in-house scoreboard and fans who need to be willing to cheer. Don’t be a fun sponge and scowl at someone who is standing and cheering. It’s sports. It is supposed to be a release from every day life, and right now the atmosphere at Rogers Place is severely lacking. They should at the very least show more replays of goals and penalties, rather than just pan the crowd at every stoppage.

I don’t want this to turn into a blame game, but there are factors that can be improved. Many other rinks are louder and have a much more enjoyable in-game experience. I like the Oilers’ new video intro. It’s great, and looks fantastic on the big screen.

The Oilers need to use that screen to their advantage. A well placed highlight reel goal or big hit, when produced properly, can boost the energy in the building. 

Right now I think they are wasting a great tool, the big screen, by using it mainly to pan the crowd. Smiling fans, or ones finding different ways to drink their beer while on screen, while funny from time-to-time, add little and get old fast. They are not maximizing one of their best assets. Maybe they are treating it like a young kid and letting him develop slowly, but I think the big screen can handle more than simply panning the crowd.

What have you seen in other rinks, arenas, stadiums or ball parks that excite you? Share them in the comments sections. What would you like to see on a game night?

MONTH OF GIVING DAY THREE

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Recently by Jason Gregor:    

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  • GDB 22.0: Desert Storm 
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    • All good points. I really think the lack of a chanting direction has hampered the noise. But again, anyone trying to incite excitement gets asked to quietly sit down. I know I shout at the players and the refs (no blue streaks) but never get into chants because our team has none. This should be priority 1 – 7 of the in house entertainment staff. I also agree showing people looking at the big screen is really boring. I never realized how boring that is until just now.

      Also, they give away old dutch chips. It’s an embarrassment that paying hundreds of bucks for tickets equates to them giving away bags of chips that cost them 5 cents. It all needs to be better.

      Also I hated that car racing thing they did. Stuuuuupid.

    • Kal Tire

      I had no idea, but apparently there are awards for “best in game experience” throughout all of the major sports leagues in North America.

      A close family friend of mine is the in game manager for the Flames. As much as I hate Calgary, they had consistently won awards for their in game experience, to the point where he was head hunted by the Leafs. They made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he took it. He ended up lasting one season with them cause he hated living in Toronto and returned to the Flames this year. Flames gladly took him back, by the way.

      The point is, this is a “thing”, it is a position that is important to a franchise, and just like in hockey, there are guys who are good and guys who aren’t. The Leafs thought it was important to go out and get one of the best in the business because their fans wanted it. Perhaps OEG should do the same. Nicest looking building in the league, but with no soul…Fix it boys.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      I think the biggest problem is the machine that detects which row is cheering the loudest to get gas coupons, pizza or chips might be a little off. I think there have been some pretty quiet rows that have been unjustly rewarded at the games I’ve been to.

      For a group that has so “unabashedly” borrowed every great idea from every stadium/arena they could cull inspiration from for Rogers Place it would be nice if they paid attention to the in-game presentations that liven a place up.

      I was at a Seahawks game 3 years ago and they did a couple of videos where it really got the crowd into it. The game was against the Vikings so they did one video where they did an “us” versus “them” – things that they love about living in Seattle (local burger joints, landmarks, etc) versus those in Minneapolis. Brought the usual cheers and jeers from the crowd. But it was fun.

      There was another video with cheer versus boo. Showed things you love (brace yourself, it’s an American game and they flashed the old Red-white and blue on the screen) versus things you hate. Again, it was fun.

      And they should do some of these things on a 4 game loop. Love the opening intro but they should have at least two of those if not three or four. This way you have something different to see every time you go. Change up the in-game entertainment so if you went to 4 straight games just in-game entertainment stuff would be different each time.

      • Arod

        I’m sorry to break it to you man, but there is no machine. Notice how the squad that has to give out the coupons is already right beside the row that cheers loudest?? Yeah, they picked it ahead of time. Honestly if they actually picked the weirdest dance moves to switch seats down to the lower bowl and honestly tried to find the craziest SOB dancing, that would be funny. But they don’t. And it sucks..

    • FISTO Siltanen

      I recall the 2006 playoff run and the Oilers started doing “Today in NHL History” and it would show Jarome Iginla on the golf course or Chris Chelios washing his truck. It always brought a solid response.

      You might not want to do something as personal during the regular season (the Sacramento Kings trolled the Detroit Pistons with a video showing a burned out, ghetto Detroit that didn’t sit well with many).

      But bring back some fun into the building!

    • In my experience alot of it seems to come down from team in-game management. They WANT it to be pretty quiet and tight lipped. Ushers shush anybody who even thinks about getting loud. Oilers MIB’s have been known to take away “offensive” signs and we all remember what happened to the guys wearing paper bags.

      I heard some of Gregor’s show today and he’s on point. If the in-game team wanted input it’s out there and dreaming up cool stuff to do in between breaks is pretty easy. As far as video goes, they now have a state of the art in-house production facility that I hear is freaking amazing. If the desire was there to twist up the crowd it would be done.

      If I were part of the game experience team I’d listen to Gregor a bit closer, challenge the video group to come up with some good work and lower the price of beers by about 30%. Get people loosened up a bit then tell the security team to lighten up when they do. I’d encourage more home made signs and lastly for the love of god up the quality of the music.

    • @Hallsy4

      There’s little to no emotion in the games anymore. In the old days it seemed the teams hated eachother on the ice. A borderline hit or slash, followed by a couple fights, and the fans would be into it. Now you’re not allowed to hit (hard), there’s no fights, and the players are all best friends with opposing players. Heard stories in the decade of despair of some Oilers partying with other teams a day or two before the game in Edmonton. I kinda like peace and quiet when I watch, so I watch at home, but it’s tough to get too into it when both teams are just out for a Sunday Skate.

    • O.C.

      Easy.
      Real prizes for legit fans.
      The best dancers.
      The best singalongers.
      The best dressed in Oilers Garb.
      The loudest fans.

      Legit awards. Not the predetermined section. It doesn’t need to be much, even a $5 off at the concessions. They don’t care what the prize is, they want to be recognized.

      A theme song. A good one, not something lame. Think Liverpool.

      Cheaper beer before the game starts.

      A bit of quiet time after the whistle so fans can yell “Nice Call!” or “Nice Dive Princess!” before the next mad rush to market a crappy pizza to us.

      All the marketing sucks the life out.

      How hard can this be? Go to a Seahawks game. They get it.

    • Arod

      Wow Jason, thank you so much for writing this article. The in-game production value for the Oilers is so terrible it hurts. It has been that way for a long long time.
      This is the way things go when a company (the oilers franchise) doesn’t have to work hard to get fans in the seats. They get paid without having to put on a good show, which has been true of both on the ice and off the ice for a long time. Fans still come, sell-outs are still the norm.
      I was shocked to see how many of the old in-game productions made it to the new building. Its as if they’re not aware of what happens around the league or in other sports and venues. The oilers as a company have 42 opportunities a year to see what does and doesn’t work in other arenas around the league. Insane that they insist on flying potato chips down from the rafters, or having the gawd-aweful spin the bottle to the predetermined… I mean random seat that gets a $25 gift certificate to some stupid thing noone cares about. Its actually offensive at times.
      AND DON’T GET ME STARTED ABOUT THE BEER SELECTION. HUUUUGE SLAP IN THE FACE O.E.G. WTFWTFWTF!

    • YakCity1039

      To me, Oilers management and ownership knows that regardless, fans are going to show up so they don’t put much effort or stock in to the in-game promotions, music, etc.

    • A-Mc

      The video game community is really good at taking Shadowplay / Fraps videos and compiling them into action sequences sync’d with music. The Oilers need someone to do this for them but with game footage.

      I could imagine Lucic recording a very short 1-3s intro screaming “CRUSH IT”, then Pump It (by BEP) plays with sycn’d clips of the oilers crushing people. The video would have text overlay to entice the crowd to scream “CRUSH IT” every time the song says PUMP IT.

      You could use this video in any number of different situations.

      They need like 5 or more of these videos on standby.

        • A-Mc

          Why make videos?

          To inject energy into the crowd. To create atmosphere that is something other than a snooze fest. To provide some form of entertainment when the game isn’t.

          You can use videos to remind the crowd of when things went well. Crowds cheer with anticipation of what might happen; so show them the good things that MIGHT happen.

    • Johnnyo

      NYR and Capitals buildings are almost always full and their in game entertainment is top drawer. The Rangers goal song is epic. Rangers score and everyone is on their feet, fists pumping and chanting whoa whoa whoa hey hey hey. Even their warm ups are exciting with the music being played.

      Hire the person that does the video montages for hockey night in Canada. Have a video montage playing before every game that is emotionally charged and new. Get better music. Ditch the “kiss cam” and “dance cam” and get back to hockey. And for the love of all that is right in this world, get a goal song/chant that fans can embrace as their own.

    • Lakoustic

      At the game on Saturday we were talking to the people sitting next to us about how quiet it was and they commented that they missed the drum guy. I was never a big fan of drum guy because it got old when he was banging on that thing every 5 minutes, but if Hunter the Lynx popped up on the screen banging the drum a few times throughout the game that could get the crowd going.

      Maybe tie in all of the extras around the new barn? Oilers get a powerplay? Maybe pre-tape something like one of the trucks parked in the concourse revving up, or a slot machine in the Grand Villa Casino hitting a jackpot if they score on the powerplay.

      The Oilers activation team giving away prizes to a single section if they ‘Get Loud’ misses the mark too, because it leaves out 99% of the building.

    • Jehu23

      Was in LA last year, and they have a couple of post-goal traditions I instantly loved… 1) they showed a clip of Magnum PI-era Tom Selleck look over his shoulder and smile after the replay of the goal, and 2) they played a clip of the hottest current video meme after each goal as a “goal tally” – last year it was the bleating goat… so when it was 6-0 Kings over the Oil (*le sigh*), they played the goat 6 FRIGGIN times after the last goal, and the upper bowl crowd went nuts.

      You can also extend crowd excitement to in-game promotions… we’ve all heard chants of “we want 5” when a team scores it’s 4th goal in rinks where there are free give-aways on nights they score 5 goals. (or 100 points in basketball or 10 runs in baseball, etc…)

      Minor league teams (full disclosure, I worked for one for 4 seasons) do a lot of great in-house promos to get the crowd excited about on-field accomplishments. The Oilers should send someone to the baseball winter meetings to go to their game-day promotions seminars. Lots of promos are applicable or transferable to other sports, and with nearly 200 teams, baseball probably offers the highest volume of ideas being shared among member clubs.

      (just my 2 cents)

    • OnlyOil

      To be perfectly honest, I can’t stand the experience in the stands at Rexall or Rogers…it sucks. The most fun I had was the playoffs in 2006. It seemed as though it was allowed to get rowdy and have a good time. If you make noise now it is frowned upon people in the stands look at you like you’re an alien or something, it’s ridiculous. I think the Oiler organisation and it’s fans can take a lesson from the Jets and their fans. Winnipeg fans have a good time at hockey games or football…..Edmonton not so much.It’s embarrassing.

      It seems as though it’s below these fans to actually cheer and show some emotion towards their football team or hockey. Lighten up!!

      I usually end up screaming wake up! then I leave.

    • Shameless Plugger

      I’ve sat in every corner of the old barn and most in the new one. I’ve found the same formula applies to both buildings. When the lower bowl gets loud the whole building is loud. It’s simple math there are 9,300 lower bowl seats compared to 6,800 uppers. Lowe bowl dictates volume.

      Also I’ve incurred people looking at me funny when I try a new chant that isn’t let’s go Oilers clap clap clap clap clap.

      I’ve been told by an usher I was to loud. Wasn’t enibriated or vulgar. Just to loud.

      I think people want to get involved in cheering they just forgot how.

      I have no simple fix. Just my observations.

    • Dave Semenko

      Back in the 80s, I was fortunate enough to score tix for me and a buddy for a game against the Hartford Whalers. We couldn’t afford tickets ourselves and were definitely looking forward to supporting our team. We had a blast cheering for our favorite players of the day, until half way thru the second period when we were informed by an usher that if we didn’t keep it down, we would be asked to leave the building. This is clearly not a new problem and I get that it’s a different building now, but I vividly remember the usher being applauded, all because we were cheering for the home team. By the way, we were sober high school students not using any profanity.

      One thing that did fire up the home crowd was the “professional” cheerleader. I thought Krazy George was awesome for Eskimo and Oiler home games. It’s amazing what one lunatic with a snare drum could accomplish.

    • BabyNugeMonitor

      Take a page out of European football/Barclays Premier League – write some creative, simple chants/songs bellowed out by a cohesive group of fans. Repeat chants throughout the game to boost the atmosphere. These can be witty digs against the opposing team or a particular player, or celebrate our own lads.

      The point is, they have to be organic and initiated by the fans. Getting prompted by the scoreboard or an 80s hairband one-hit wonder power ballad right before a face-off will continue to be the worst part of sports.

    • Pouzar99

      I believe the lack of atmosphere at Rogers Place is largely a reflection of the profoundly unimaginative ‘entertainment package’ which is the precise opposite of entertainment and almost entirely about making money from sponsors. The dullest promotion I have ever seen is the idiotic ‘contest’ presented by Coventry Homes, where the ‘contestant’ is asked to identify what household item has been smashed by Chris Russell’s slapshot and is told the answer if he or she doesn’t know it. YAWN. Most of the rest is no better. Katz has chosen to make a few dollars more by offering the fans insipid non-contests, hosted by an obnoxiously punchable host and also including endless shots of fans in the expensive seats waving at the camera. BORING. The entire game is pre-programmed to prioritize this crap over replaying controversial calls or highlight reel plays, pretty much eliminating any sense of spontaneity and depriving fans of the opportunity to see what is happening in the game. The terrible music choices, always turned up to ’11,’ are a desperate and failed attempt to create some atmosphere. The game is secondary to this pathetic show. Meanwhile, at home or at the bar fans watching TV get mainly hockey, all the replays, plus analysis without paying hundreds of dollars a night. I come to watch a hockey game and cheer and shout my ass off, not to watch lame ‘entertainment’with a certified idiot acting as emcee. The young fans, who provide much of the noise, are a godsend, just like they were in the 2006 playoffs, but few can afford to attend games at these prices.

      • Mike Modano's Dog

        Pouzar 99 nailed it!

        I replied simply so others could read it again.

        Their ‘contests’ (sponsor plugs) are ruining the fan experience as these are shoved down our throats ad nauseum, and add zero enthusiasm or tie-in to the game itself. (Three cars racing where nobody is even racing them, who cares who wins!!!!!!!!!!) Having to watch product placement after product placement is just as exciting as watching commercials at home on tv. We’re not that stupid that we can’t recognize it for what it is.

        We’re paying hundreds of dollars and the in-game experience has ZERO to do with the actual game going on.

        Want a tie-in to the in-game experience? How about making it so you have give-aways for fans of a certain section when a certain player has the most points, hits, or shots on goal. Then when you give those coupons away to that section (decided at that time) you can announce it is from whatever sponsor it is from. Win/win… and the fans won’t mind hearing about the sponsor BECAUSE they are actually winning something!

        If the scoreboard isn’t going to show replays, etc from the game itself – rip it down! It serves no useful purpose for hockey.

    • ComeAtMeDog

      Good article .

      I think your right about people being too embarrassed by cheering loud . But who wants to cheer Lets go oilers ?? Your right it is lame Chant

      We need oilersnation to come up with songs like the football fans in Europe . When they chant it sends chills up your spine and the atmosphere is amazing .

      The whole stadium singing in unison to a oilers song would be awesome . What they do is change a few lyrics from famous songs that everybody knows . Eg. Sweet Caroline or some song like that.

      Oilersnation should come up with catchy songs and get the oilers to put it on big screen .

    • Devolution

      ‘The other main issue is how the the Oilers’ in-house entertainment doesn’t help much. Their majority of in-game experience consists of panning to people in the crowd at every break. I’m sorry, but an endless run of fans smiling and waving while on the big screen doesn’t do much other than have them smiling and waving.’

      To me it is this. I have lived overseas for a long time, so I haven’t been to a game in many years. I was back home in October and landed tickets to two games, the Calgary home opener against the Oilers and the Oilers’ second game against Buffalo.

      The fan experience in Calgary was great, karoake style sing-a-longs, giveaways, games, really fun. I was really hyped to get to Edmonton a couple of days later to see the show the Oilers would put on in the new building. And, as has been discussed, boring.

      There are 29 examples of how other teams entertain their fans. The people in charge of entertainment need to tour these facilities during games to see what they do then bring some of these ideas home. Basketball games too, and NFL and MLB.

      I mean, the game in Edmonton was a stinker anyway, 6-2 effortless loss to Buffalo, but I couldn’t help but think there were other ways to spend $300.

    • I used to go to Pro Games in Stavanger Norway, when the Stavanger Oiler (that’s correct!) the PA guy would make a big deal about the goal, the number of goals he had scored that year and then say in a very grandiose voice the players first name. The crowd would then scream out the players last name and it would become quite addictive everyone loved it. The Oil should try. Example : His 9th of the season scored by Patrick ?…. Crowd = MAROOOON! Lots of fun

    • smiliegirl15

      I miss the guy who used to come to Rexall with the plastic drum. He would get the crowd going.

      I was sitting in Section 233 at the Wild game. The people above me tried to start the wave before the lower bowl did but it didn’t catch on. The corners are hidden.

      As for cheering, it seems like a cheer gets started but the other end of the rink can’t hear so they cheer over each other and it dies. I don’t know what the solution is. I agree they could do a better job with the video. Even between periods, the screen couldn’t be more boring.

    • @Hallsy4

      Some really good ideas from the nation on here. Does Katz have a rat or two who reads/contributes to sites like this? If not, he should, free marketing intel from the customers. Give the people what they desperately need! ADAM OATES

    • MBudz

      Thank. You. Gregor.

      I came up from Calgary on Saturday for my first game at Rogers place and noticed the same things. I think there is a distorted view of the “fan experience.” The best experience for fans is one that pulls people into the game and draws focus to what’s happening on the ice. They need to create an atmosphere that encourages a united crowd and doesn’t highlight the individual in the seats. I specifically noted this to my friend when going to OT and there seemed to be a mandate to get as many fans as possible on the screen before the puck dropped. I’m sitting there biting my nails in anticipation for the most exciting 5 mins in hockey and then look up to see giddy duck faced pre teens attempt to take a selfie with themselves in jumbo screen. Are we at a professional sporting event or a stadium sized photo booth? That doesn’t get the crowd going, it doesn’t get the team going. It serves no purpose. People start treating the game as a place to be seen and not a place to cheer for their team. I enjoyed the win, but the game felt less like “lets go Oilers” and more “look at me!” On a side note, there was a baby right behind me with no headphones or hearing protection, screaming the entire game. At first I was annoyed, but then I thought at least that’s one fan making some noise.