On April 6th, 2016, the Edmonton Oilers played their last game at Rexall Place, beating the Vancouver Canucks in a 6-2 landslide. Whether you knew it as Northlands Coliseum, Skyreach Centre, Rexall Place, or anything in between, it’s hard to believe that four years have already gone by since we said goodbye to the old building.
From the time the building opened in 1974 to the final farewell in 2016, the Coliseum was home to some of the most incredible events our city has ever seen, including five Stanley Cups Championships, two Canada Cups, endless concerts and performers, a laundry list of NHL Hall of Famers, and some of the strongest arena beers in the history of alcohol. To say that Rexall Place was a magical building would be the understatement of the century, especially as you work through the seemingly endless list of big games and events that happened there, and it’s crazy to think that it’s been almost a half-decade since the ol’ girl got her curtain call.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be at the last Oilers game at Rexall so I dug up the recap article I wrote to look at some of the highlights from the evening and I couldn’t help but feel my allergies kicking in again as I took the walk down memory lane. I also couldn’t help but laugh at some of the stuff I wrote now that we have four years worth of hindsight to work with. From my list:
- 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.
Needless to say, Rexall Place (or whatever you want to call it) featured so many incredible moments and memories that it was fun to look back at after not thinking about the place in a little while. From the time I was a little kid until the day the place shut down, I was always excited to go to an event at the ol’ barn and I’ll never forget the sights, smells, and memories that were forged there over the first three decades of my life. It really was a special place. Actually, now that I’m on the topic, it still bums me out that the city couldn’t figure out a use for the place rather than letting it sit as a shell of its former greatness, but that’s business, I suppose. You can’t just keep a building open for nostalgic purposes without having any way of paying the bills, ya know?
If you have a favourite Rexall Place memory, I’d love to see them in the comments section.