The Canucks/Oilers pre-gamer will be below. Mr.Zach Laing will be unavailable on this sad and historic day in Oilers history. I think he’s getting that third nipple on his back removed.
I don’t call the Edmonton Oilers’ home Rexall Place and I didn’t call it Skyreach either. To me, the place where I’ve watched all of my heroes play hockey is called Northlands Coliseum. I could never bring it upon myself to call it by a different name and now we’re on the brink of seeing it host its last professional NHL hockey game. I suppose this is my version of a Rexall Place Farewell.
I’ve seen the best of the best play in that arena thanks to a father whose passion was and still is as strong as my own (but he’s jumped ship down the QE2…) Not just the legends who played for the Oilers like Wayne Gretzky as a King, Mark Messier, Bill Ranford, Jari Kurri, or Esa Tikkanen but other legends like Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey as a Red Wing, Steve Yzerman, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne in their hay days as Ducks. My Dad could always get tickets behind the away team’s net about 5 or so rows up on the zamboni entrance and the trooper my dad was, he would always try to get us down to where the Oilers’ players parked their cars so we could get autographs.
One time I recall very vividly was an Oilers/Red Wings game that my father and I drove through a whiteout on the highway from Camrose to get to. We’re probably lucky we made it to be honest. I don’t remember the details of the game clearly but my favourite player at the time, Steve Yzerman, acknowledged me during warm-ups as I showed him my sweet new Yzerman sweater.
After the game, my father and I were standing and waiting in the aforementioned players parking area and it was so cold that my pen’s ink froze but we stuck it out to see our heroes. The first players to emerge were Joe Kocur and Sergei Federov. They tried their damnedest to sign for me. I think all they did was engrave their signature on my gameday program. My dad had better luck with Messier and I had to compete with about 30 other fully grown adults but I got Yzerman to sign a hockey card for me.
I was lucky enough to attend the Cup finals in ’90. The game three loss. I also flew back from Taiwan to watch a handful of World Junior Championship games when Edmonton and Calgary hosted the event. I got to see one Team Canada game and it was the one versus Finland. I remember Mark Stone, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dougie Hamilton. That game Devante Smith-Pelly got hurt and I think that’s also the game he knocked Olli Maatta silly in the corner. The first goal they scored I was nearly moved to tears I was so happy. I don’t know why I was so emotional at the time. Maybe it’s because I had found a way to do something on impulse that I’d always wanted to do and come on. Team Canada hockey in Canada… WOW!
As a child I was even lucky enough to play a few games myself on the ice. As a beer leaguer as well. I remember that beer league game because I high sticked a guy trying to stick check him in the corner and cut his lip pretty bad. I felt terrible because his experience was over for that night. But that’s hockey. That’s just how she goes.
So those were my hockey-related experiences at Northlands. I watched a few bands there before I moved on across the pacific, Foo Fighters and Green Day in their American Idiot run. I went to a monster truck rally and got to see Bigfoot and Grave Digger and nearly went deaf for it.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Game: CANUCKS (30-36-13) at OILERS (30-43-7)
Location: Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Where to find it: TV: SNW, SNP, NHL.TV – Radio: 630 CHED
Edmonton Oilers Preview:
Over 100 ex-Oilers will be in attendence and the current team better not blow it because they’ll have to face those old Oilers and look them in the eye afterwards and answer to those judgements. If the boys can show up and put in an honest effort, I’m talking about the one where the crowd is cheering for penalty kills and extended possession in the Canucks’ zone, and still lose. Then it just wasn’t meant to be. But put in another shift like the one versus the Flames last time and boy they’ll be hearing it. Nick Kypreos said after the Flames game that if the Oilers toss up another stinker that they’d ruin the evening and I agree with him.
If there was any time for Connor McDavid to put a show on, it’s going to be this game with all those fans and alumni in attendance. That would be a fitting end to such historic building and what a way to pass the torch to the new saviour of the Edmonton Oilers. Or one of the new saviours at least. The Oilers can finish no higher than 28th and are guaranteed a sweet lottery pick in the upcoming draft… So barring a trade, fans of the Oilers can look forward to one of Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, or Jakob Chychrun joining the ranks in 2016/17. Good times… Good times…
Vancouver Canucks Preview:
The Canucks just swept the California teams. WHAT?!! Seriously. The Canucks can sweep the best teams in their division and the Oilers are losing 5-0 to the Calgary Flames… Jesus… That’s terrible. Anyways, this is the Canucks preview. Do we even care about the Vancouver Canucks? Honestly… It’s the Sedins and everyone else. Oh remember when Bo Horvat was supposed to be this wicked two-way center coming up?… Well he’s putting Nail Yakupov-like numbers on the scoresheet with regards to his +/-… -33 and he’s the worst in the NHL. Nice. Virtanen and McCann have a combined 30 points… Maybe they should’ve been sent back to junior… Maybe.
Just a few thoughts to wrap things up here:
- The game of hockey is won by the best team whose sum of the individuals is better than the other team’s. So when we see a player isn’t playing well or has quit on his teammates, well that affects the whole machine, does it not? I mean games, hell, seasons can be lost in moments and that is why we demand the most of our best players at all times. As Oilers fans we should know right? Seasons have been lost in the first two or three months of the year. And this is where I argue with the sample size argument. Sure, we’re at game 81 now and the team is resigned to pick in the top four of the draft guaranteed, so what does it matter if they show up or not?The answer to that question? Pride and self-respect.If the star players can’t pick up the team by their britches and motivate them to follow along as they show how it’s done, maybe those players aren’t the right type for this team, no matter how good they are.
- I’m not sure if Chiarelli dismantles this roster scorched Earth-style. I’m also wondering if he’ll use that pick at the draft to pick the BPA and then move from there. I can envision a scenario where he doesn’t do anything drastic over the summer and goes into 2016/17 with virtually the same roster but healthy and sees how it performs. If the same players get injured again, then maybe it’d be time to move on from them. If the same “attitude and bullshit” arises with certain players after say 10-15 games, then C-YA! It’s been fun but not really.
- Phil Kessel was a very good player when PC traded him. His 5×5 scoring/60 was right up there with Hossa, Malking, Datsyuk and the Sedins at the time but Kessel didn’t want to be in Boston and I’m wondering if PC is keeping a keen eye for the same kind of attitude with his players on the Oilers. PC got two firsts and a second for Kessel and those picks turned into Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin, and Jared Knight. So two out of three ain’t bad.
- I spoke earlier of going into next season with nearly the same roster. Tell me, how would you feel about this defense going into next year?Klefbom/Davidson
ReinhartSee, the thing is we haven’t seen what it can do. Maybe you leave Nurse/Gryba out and plug in Reinhart/Oesterle or maybe you don’t re-sign Gryba and you trade one or two of Nurse, Reinhart, Oesterle and make room for David Musil?… Point being that Brandon Davidson was playing top minutes and doing it well. No, he’s not a right-handed shooter but that didn’t stop him from being the Oilers best defenseman on some nights.
- Should Davidson be tasked with such a responsibility? I think it’s debatable. His Corsi Against/60 is better than Vatanen and Jason Demers, two oft-mentioned players in the summer acquisition conversations around the Oilers.
- I think everyone’s big want is to see Fayne be moved on and I can’t exactly argue with that but unless Hamonic is coming in or Vatanen/Lindholm/Brodin/Dumba, players of that ilk. Fayne is still an NHL defenseman. One of the few the team has.
- Yakupov. I don’t think they should trade him at all. I reckon they need to put him on McDavid’s line for 10 games and if he’s still not producing, then off he goes. At $2.5M per year, that is a very easy hit to the cap but he’s got to be in that top 6. It’s imperative that he plays with a skilled center whether that be with Connor, who he’s been outstanding with, or Draisaitl. Move Eberle if they have to but Yak’s potential and his cap hit is almost too sweet and a lot of his value sits right there.
- Hall’s PPG in the last 30 games has dropped to .45… This isn’t supposed to happen in the final third of the year when, as Coach McLellan puts it, character gets revealed… Is this an attack on Hall’s character. I don’t think so. You can tell by watching the guy, he’s trying everything to score a goal or get a point for his team. Even I can see that through my McDavid-coloured glasses. I hope he has a good game versus Vancouver for his sake.
That’s all for now. I hope the Oilers blow out the Canucks in the final game at Northlands. What are your favourite memories of the arena? Let me know in the comments below!