The world is a completely different place since last time the City of Edmonton got to watch playoff hockey. It’s been a long time. A really, really long time. How long, you ask? Let me walk you through it.
We watched 177 different players suit up for the Oilers during the decade of darkness.
Will Acton, Mark Arcobello, Dean Arsene, Richard Bachman, Cam Barker, Taylor Beck, Eric Belanger, Shawn Belle, Matt Benning, Anton Belov, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Sebastian Basallion, Jesse Boulerice, Kyle Brodziak, Laurent Brossoit, Mike Brown, Gilbert Brule, Ilya Byzgalov, Drake Caggiula, Taylor Chorney, Adam Clendening, Andrew Cogliano, Eric Cole, Mike Comrie, Philippe Cornet, Adam Cracknell, Yann Danis, Brandon Davidson, David Desharnais, Jeff Deslauriers, Leon Draisaitl, Devan Dubnyk, Ben Eager, Jordan Eberle, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser, Sam Gagner, Mathieu Garon, Martin Gerber, Mark Fayne, Mark Fistric, Viktor Fasth, Taylor Fedun, Mark Fraser, Luke Gazdic, Tom Gilbert, Alexandre Giroux, Curtis Glencross, Boyd Gordon, Denis Grebeshkov (twice!), Josh Green, Matt Greene, Eric Gryba, Jonas Gustavsson, Taylor Hall, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Hamilton, Teemu Hartikainen, Ales Hemsky, Matt Hendricks, Roman Horak, Shawn Horcoff, Darcy Hordichuck, Brad Hunt, Jean-Francois Jacques, Jesse Joensuu, Aaron Johnson, Ryan Jones, Zack Kassian, Nikolai Khabibulin, Jujhar Khaira, Oscar Klefbom, Rob Klinkhammer, Lauri Korpikoski, Alex Kotalik, Milan Kytnar, Jason LaBarbera, Anton Lander, Phillip Larsen, Adam Larsson, Mark Letestu, Charles Linglet, Milan Lucic, Joffrey Lupul, Steve MacIntyre, Martin Marincin, Patrick Maroon, Connor McDavid, Colin McDonald, Jussi Markkanen, Andrew Miller, Chris Minard, Alexei Mikhnov, Ethan Moreau, Johan Motin, Petr Nedved, Nikita Nikitin, Anders Nilsson, Robert Nilsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse, Ryan O’Marra, Patrick O’Sullivan, Jordan Oesterle, Linus Omark, Iiro Pakarainen, Adam Pardy, Theo Peckham, Dustin Penner, Steve Pinizzotto, Joni Pitkanen, Tyler Pitlick, Magnus Paajarvi, Toby Petersen, Lennart Petrell, Fernando Pisani, Alex Plante, David Perron, Richard Petiot, Jeff Petry, Corey Potter, Ryan Pultony, Benoit Pouliot, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Jesse Puljujarvi, Teddy Purcell, Marty Reasoner, Liam Reddox, Griffin Reinhart, Bryan Rodney, Dwayne Roloson, Allan Rourke, Mathieu Roy, Geoff Sanderson, Rob Schremp, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Ben Scrivens, Andrej Sekera, Dillon Simpson, Anton Slepyshev, Ladislav Smid, Jason Smith, Jerred Smithson, Ryan Smyth (twice!), Sheldon Souray, Steve Staois, Jarret Stoll, Ryan Stone, Zack Stortini, Jason Strudwick, Andy Sutton, Petr Sykora, Danny Syvret, Cam Talbot, Dick Tarnstrom, Colten Teubert, Patrick Thoresen, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Raffi Torres, Brad Winchester, Jim Vandermeer, Chris VandeVelde, Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Whitney, Nail Yakupov, and Bryan Young were all, at some point, Edmonton Oilers over that long, dark, treacherous road.
And that’s just the players.
We’ve seen four general managers, Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini, Craig MacTavish, and Peter Chiarelli, seven head coaches, (one of which was fired via Skype by a guy who was fired as a head coach himself four years prior), MacT, Pat Quinn, Rom Renney, Wreck-It Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins, Todd Nelson, and Todd McLellan.
Should I get into the assistants, too? Sure! There was Bill Moores, Craig Simpson, Charlie Huddy, Rob Daum, Kelly Buchberger, Steve Smith, Keith Acton, Rocky Thompson, and Craig Ramsay. I won’t go any deeper than that with staff, but we also saw the entire dressing room staff overhauled too, for some reason.
How about the rest of the league?
Since the Oilers last made the playoffs, the Atlanta Thrashers became the second version of the Winnipeg Jets. We’ve witnessed the Anaheim Ducks win their first Stanley Cup, the Ottawa Senators (the new rendition of them) reach the Cup Final for the first time, Sidney Crosby win his first and second Cup, the birth of a Chicago Blackhawks Dynasty, a mini-dynasty in Los Angeles that featured their first- and second-ever Stanley Cup, and the San Jose Sharks come ever so close to finally going all the way.
The salary cap has more than doubled from its original figure of $39 million dollars, the six-division format was destroyed (no more Detroit in the West!) and the playoffs were restructured, and the dilemma of how to end games that go on for too long still hasn’t ended. The last time the Oilers were in the playoffs, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrick Kane, Claude Giroux, P.K. Subban, Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, and just about every big name player in the league right now hadn’t been drafted yet. Connor McDavid, the guy largely responsible for turning this franchise around, was only nine years old.
Hell, the last time Edmonton was in the playoffs, a 26-year-old Joe Thornton was arguably the league’s best player, as he was awarded the Hart Trophy, but New York Rangers fans would probably argue that Jaromir Jagr, who was a young man at just 33 years of age at the time, was actually better.
Elsewhere in the world of sports…
Barry Bonds became the home run king, Peyton Manning became the NFL’s all-time pass leader, the Patriots won two Super Bowls but lost to the New York Giants twice, Leicester City won the Premier League, and even more amazingly, the Chicago Cubs won a World Series all since the Oilers last played a playoff game.
LeBron James was just 21 years old when the Oilers were last in the playoffs. He made his first playoff appearance with the Cleveland Cavaliers that same year, where the team lost in the second round to the Detroit Pistons. Since then, LeBron went to the finals with Cleveland, took his talents to South Beach in free agency, won two championships, lost in the finals twice, returned to Cleveland as a free agent, lost to Golden State in the finals, and won the Cavaliers first championship in franchise history.
There have been three FIFA World Cups since the Oilers last made the playoffs. Just a few months after Game Seven in 2006, this happened. Zinedine Zidane figured it would be a great idea, with his team in extra time, a few minutes away from penalty kicks and a shot at the World Cup, to headbutt an Italian defender. He was given a red card and was ejected from the game, and Italy won its fourth championship in history.
The Olympics have been played five times. In Vancouver in 2010, Canada won its first ever gold medal on home soil, and had far and away its best ever performance at an Olympic Games, capped off by gold victories from the both the men’s and women’s hockey teams. Michael Phelps won 19 gold medals and three silver medals, and Usain Bolt has broken multiple records as the world’s fastest man.
Every team in the NHL has made at least one playoff appearance since the Oilers last one in 2006. The Minnesota Timberwolves are the only NBA team who hasn’t seen the playoffs for a longer stretch than the Oilers. In the NFL, 29 of 32 teams have made the playoffs since 2006, with the Rams, Browns, and Bills being the only ones who haven’t. And finally, every other Major League Baseball other than the Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins have made the playoffs over that span.
In the world of pop culture…
What were we listening to in 2006? Only you know what you were jamming out to eleven years ago, but I can tell you what the charts tell us we were listening to. And I can tell you that you were probably listening to it on a CD player rather than streaming it through Apple Music or Spotify. Anyways, the last time the Oilers were in the playoffs, people were listening to:
- Bad Day by Daniel Powter
- Temperature by Sean Paul
- Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland
- You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
- Dani California by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
- Crazy by Gnarles Barkley
- Sexyback by Justin Timberlake
- Ridin’ by Chamillionaire feat. Krayzie Bone
- I Write Sins not Tragedies by Panic! At the Disco
- London Bridge by Fergie
- Every Time we Touch by Cascada
- Move Along by The All American Rejects
Since then, Drake released his first album Thank me Later, Adele released her first album 19, Miley Cyrus (as herself, and not Hannah Montana) released her first album Breakout, Justin Bieber released My World, Taylor Swift released Taylor Swift, and many other popular names, like Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Tyler, the Creator, Meghan Trainor, Pants on the Ground, Mackelmore, Bon Iver, MGMT, Skrillex, and Deadmau5 have broken on to the scene. Also, you’ve never heard of it, but Vaporwave happened, died, became a parody of itself, and is arguably alive again.
The top movie in the box office the last year the Oilers made the playoffs was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Night at the Museum, Cars, X-Men: last Stand, The Da Vinci Code, Mission: Impossible III, The Devil Wears Prada, V for Vendetta, Superman Returns, and Happy Feet were successful at the box office that year, while The Departed won best picture, snubbing Snakes on a Plane (I kid, I kid). Since then, classics like Superbad, The Dark Knight, Moneyball, The Social Network, District 9, and Wall-E were released. (I’m sorry for not mentioning your favourite movie.) Since the Oilers were last in the playoffs, seven X-Men movies were released, four (five, kinda) Harry Potter movies came out, and the Spider-Man series concluded, was re-booted, and another version is being re-booted again.
This section doesn’t really do pop culture justice, because so so soooooo many things have come and gone since 2006, but here are some other random things that have come and gone (??) the last time the Oilers played in the playoffs: Emo kids, Angry Birds, Flash mobs, The Harlem Shake, Gangham Style, Rick Roll videos, Planking, Paranormal Activity Movies, Harambe (RIP), Cool Story Bro, Charlie Sheen Winning, Leave Britney Alone, Pokemon Go, Livestrong wristbands, #KONY2012, Words With Friends, Grumpy Cat, Chocolate Rain, Jersey Shore, Doge, Dolan, Mannequin Challenge, Flappy Bird, and the Ice Bucket Challenge.
The real world, though. It’s changed a lot.
Eleven years is significant chunk of time. What do you remember about 2006? It’s kind of the same, but it also kind of isn’t, right?
It really depends how old you are, I guess, but for me, I’ve lived basically my entire life since the Oilers last made the playoffs. I had just turned 13 when they lost to Carolina in Game Seven. So since the last time there was playoff hockey, I finished high school, finished my university degree, went to Europe, watched the Blue Jays play in the playoffs for the first time in my life (want to talk about an even more absurd playoff drought?), and many, many other things.
What about you? Maybe a marriage? A divorce? Bought your first car? Bought a house? Lots of things have happened.
Think about that amount of time in your life. Now imagine the rest of the world and how much it’s changed over that period. Since June 19, 2006, when the Oilers lost Game Seven…
- Facebook opened to the public. Unless you went to Harvard or one of the other handful of schools with the correct .edu email address, you weren’t on Facebook the last time the Oilers were in the playoffs. Since it opened to the public in September 2006, over one billion people have created accounts on the social media Goliath, which has gone from a thing we use to share photos with friends to completely altering the way in which we consume media on a daily basis.
- You also weren’t live tweeting the Oilers 2006 playoff run, because the first tweet was sent in March, 2006, and it wasn’t open to the public until July of that same year. Maybe you would watch the game and talk to people about it on MSN Messenger? That still existed at the time, but since the Oilers last made the playoffs, it was discontinued.
- YouTube, a video sharing service created by a group of former PayPay employees, had existed for a little over one year, and was purchased by Google for US$1.65 billion in November 2006. Remember when it looked like this?
- The first iPhone was released. We’ve seen the rise of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, but perhaps the most important innovation of them all was Apple’s iPhone, which sparked a smartphone renaissance that gave us the capacity to do things we would usually do on the computer on our phones instead. How many of you rereading this on your phone right now? You wouldn’t have been able to do that the last time the Oilers were in the playoffs. Since then, we’ve been through 11 generations on iPhones, and Apple has released the MacBook Pro, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and iPad.
- We saw the rise of Netflix, and the death of Blockbuster, and, more generally, the change from renting and selling physical copies of movies and shows to anytime, anywhere streaming of media. Just look at the HMV in West Edmonton Mall being shut down as we speak as a telltale sign of how things have changed.
- In a, uh, similar vein, Pornhub was launched over a year after the Oilers last made the playoffs. Moving along… Many of the major services you use and companies you’re familiar with didn’t exist the last time the Oilers were in the playoffs. Groupon, AirBNB, Uber, Tinder, Fitbit, Slack, DropBox, and Spotify, to name a few, are all services you hadn’t used yet.
- The International Astronomical Union got together and decided that Pluto actually wasn’t a planet. Since then, a privately funded rocket, SpaceX, was launched into orbit, black holes were proven to be a real thing, the exoplanet Kepler-435b was discovered, Mars was explored by that little rover that figured life was possible on the planet, and scientists figured out the universe is actually, like, ten times bigger than we originally thought it was.
- Barack Obama became the first African American president in United States history, and served his two terms in office. After he finished, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to run for President of the United States (for either of the two major parties), but instead of that history being made, Donald Trump became the first member of the WWE Hall of Fame to be elected.
- Saddam Hussein was executed, Osama Bin Laden was killed, the Swine Flu and Ebola epidemics came and went, the world went through a massive economic disaster known as the Great Recession as the American housing market crashed, gay marriage was legalized in the United States, the world watched as dozens of Chilean miners were rescued from a massive cave-in, marijuana was legalized in multiple states, the occupy movement spread across the world, and many, many other things have happened.
It was long. It was painful. But It’s over. It’s finally over. Give yourself a pat because you never gave up.
There are many ways to explain just how long that playoff drought was. I probably didn’t need to go and walk you through it, because you are certainly aware of just how long it was. Eleven years, damn. Just over a decade of long, dark winters with not much more than prospect watching, and lonely springs cheering for different teams waiting for the draft to roll around.
But it’s important to sit here and fully understand just how long that time was. Why? because you deserve to feel to feel proud of yourself for sticking through it. The Oilers became the laughingstock of the league over that decade of darkness, but its fanbase sure as hell didn’t. There were times it looked completely hopeless, but Edmonton still packed out the stadium and didn’t give up on the team.
There’s a reason organizations are terrified to go into rebuilds like the Oilers did, because deep down, they know they don’t have a fanbase as loyal, insane, and passionate as we do. Congratulations, Oilers Nation. Pour yourself a drink. Call somebody and celebrate with them. Enjoy this moment. You deserve it.
There are so many things that have happened since 2006 that I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. Share with us in the comments some things that I missed, and let us know what’s happened in your life since the last time we got to watch playoff hockey.
Thanks to Adam Laskaris for helping with compiling the list.