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Nicholson: “We are really determined to finalize this season”

On Tuesday afternoon, Bob Nicholson was the latest member of the Oilers organization to jump on a conference call with the media. During the 10-minute session, Nicholson spoke about the state of the NHL, the potential for summer hockey, the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament, and the newly launched Colby Cave Memorial Fund.

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STATE OF THE SEASON

For the last month, we’ve spent endless amounts of time speculating about when the NHL might safely be able to resume their season despite the fact that it seems unlikely at best. When asked about how he sees the next few months playing out, Nicholson reiterated that the plan is to finish what was started.

“We are really determined to finalize this season.”

We keep hearing you folks say that, but the problem is that we have no idea when things will have calmed down enough to even think about getting back to playing.

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“It could be July or August, but Gary (Bettman) has a number of different formulas for us to play in that time period.”

Don’t leave us hanging here, Bob. We want to hear the formulas! We all love math around here so let us have it.

“Playing next season from November through to June, then getting it back into the regular course. We just want to make sure we have it safe for our players, and safe for our fans to watch our great game. Time will tell if we’re able to do that, but we certainly are focused on finishing this season. The Oilers were having a great run here. We want to finish the season, get in the playoffs, and have a lot of excitement around Edmonton.”

From the moment the league suspended play, we’ve heard Gary Bettman and Bill Darly talk about not wanting to compromise the 2020-21 season while also trying to find some kind of conclusion for the current year. The latest idea to ensure an 82-game season still happens while also being able to finish up 2019-20 campaign revolves around pushing the start back a month to November, something we started hearing about yesterday afternoon.

“I know Gary has talked a lot about us star†ting next season in the beginning of November. He’s looking at a lot of different options, but we could have this season and the playoffs up until November 1st. Those scenarios will be worked through. When it’s safe for us to play, we’ll make a decision on what is the best method.”

All we can do is wait, I suppose. Fingers crossed, Bob. I may even buy one of those ridiculously overpriced burgers once I’m allowed back in the building.

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COLBY CAVE MEMORIAL FUND

Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers and family of the late Colby Cave created a memorial fund to honour him and his legacy. When asked about the fund and what it represents, Nicholson gave the credit to Emily Cave for spearheading the initiative.

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“This is led by Emily, Colby’s wife. She wants to have a fund under Colby’s name for mental health, and underprivileged kids to play sport. So, we’re looking at all of the hockey community — the Western Hockey League, NHL — to join with us. We’re looking for people to donate to this, and really have something we can do on an annual basis to make a difference in people’s lives.”

There’s no doubt that this is a wonderful cause and I hope that there is endless support for the foundation.

“It’s something that is really important to Colby. He worked a lot in the community, and if we can help kids and individuals with mental health, and also get kids to play hockey and other sports, it would be something that Colby and Emily will be very proud of.”

Colby Cave tragically died on Saturday morning after battling a brain bleed caused by a colloid cyst, and his life, memory, and passion for the game are something the organization wants to celebrate not only now but in the future.

“You look at Colby, undrafted player, went to the Boston Bruins, they had a jersey for him in the (ECHL) and he never went there.”

He was an underdog player that everyone could find reasons to root for, and as mentioned by plenty of former teammates, was someone that was well-liked in every room he’s ever been in.

“It just showed the character of Colby, the type of player he was, how hard he worked, and now I look at it since this situation has come upon us, how our family has come together.”

Rest in peace, Colby. I hope that your family can somehow find some strength in knowing how many lives you touched along your journey.

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THE HLINKA-GRETZKY TOURNAMENT

One item on the Oilers’ summer to-do list that will need an answer shortly is the fate of the 2020 Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament that is supposed to take place in August. Not only is the tournament itself in jeopardy as a result of what’s going on in the world, but the potential for the NHL playoffs could throw another wrench in the plans as well.

“I think we’ll be making a decision on that within the next seven to 10 days.”

Is the delay because you’re waiting to see what happens with the NHL, which would obviously take precedent over the annual U-18 tourney?

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“Everyone would like to see the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament happen, but in fairness, I’d rather see the Edmonton Oilers be in the playoffs in the month of August.”

Sorry, kids. Money talks.

THE FULL CALL

Coming in at a shade over 10 minutes in length, there was still plenty of stuff that I didn’t get to in the article so if you want to see the whole thing, you can watch Nicholson’s entire conference call above.

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