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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: There’s more to life than hockey

A mere 10 hours after the Edmonton Oilers watched their friend and teammate Colby Cave’s celebration of life after his tragic passing a year ago, they had to lace up their skates and try to play a hockey game.

Edmonton gave an admiral effort in a 5-0 loss to the Calgary Flames and while there’s no excuses, said captain Connor McDavid, it was far from an easy day for anyone involved.

“Some days are more than just about hockey,” said an emotional McDavid after the game. “Obviously the performance wasn’t there tonight, but today is about Colby and his memorial and his celebration of life. I thought everyone did a great job speaking.”

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McDavid, in turn, didn’t mince words about the league rescheduling what was supposed to be a May 7 matchup to Saturday night.

“You’d like the NHL to maybe think that one through a little bit,” said McDavid. “I don’t want to make excuses. They were better than us, but I think you’re asking a lot from guys to sit through something like that and remember your teammate and see what they’re going through, the whole family, and expect to perform that night.

“I don’t know what the league was really thinking there. I don’t want to make excuses, I can’t stress that enough, but it’s obviously a hard day. it’s a hard day for the cave family, it’s a hard day for (Colby’s widow) Emily and her family and it’s a hard day for Edmonton and Boston organizations.”

For the Oilers, it marks the end of what’s been a grueling stretch for the team. The team hit the road after a 4-2 win over Winnipeg on March 20th expecting to see the Montreal Canadiens two days later, and twice more that week.

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Instead, the trio of games were cancelled, as was a Saturday game against the Vancouver Canucks on April 1st. They sat around for a week in a Montreal hotel, before coming home to Edmonton for one game, a week ago Friday, before another four game-road trip.

All the while, the NHL slipped in two extra games for the Oilers. One on March 30, where the team had no jump in a 4-0 loss against the Habs, and last night’s game, which was an equally unimpressive product. You can simply call them unscheduled losses.

“I was hoping we’d have some energy tonight, but we didn’t,” said head coach Dave Tippett after the loss. “It caught up to us. You hope your team finds new levels and finds ways to push through things, and you can never use excuses, but there’s times where you can tell your team just doesn’t have it.”

It’s not all doom and gloom for Edmonton, however. The team will get both today and Monday as complete off-days, before hitting the ice Tuesday. Their next game? Well, we don’t exactly know when that is.

Edmonton’s scheduled to play the Vancouver Canucks next Friday, but with the team coming off a massive COVID-19 outbreak that’s crippled their club, that’s a game that could be postponed, pending further Canucks test results. Nonetheless, the Oilers will definitely (well, hopefully), play their scheduled game against the Winnipeg Jets next Saturday.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]

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