Someone informed me this week that there is a rumor that Eklund and I are the same person. According to my psychologist, I have six different personalities, and none of them are named Eklund. So there.
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I have never met Mr. Eklund, but I assume considering his name that he resides in the Philadelphia area. Philly is a wonderful city: Home of so much important American history, the Broadstreet Bullies, and the original Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Hmmm…I could go for one of those right now.
As clever as Eks is, do you seriously believe he’d invent an alter-ego from Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada? Does anyone reading this from outside of Alberta even know where Lac La Biche is? It is 140 miles north east of Edmonton. The town is no longer a town – it recently dissolved and became a county, and the county contains all of 10,000 people within a 50 mile radius. Or worded another way, Lac La Biche is truly in the middle of nowhere. I’d think if Eklund spent his time pretending to be someone else, he’d at least invent a persona from some place more relevant.
The thing about small-town Alberta is, hockey is God. Well, hockey and curling. And Tim Bits and trips to Cosco in Edmonton on Fridays when the teachers take the day off. The small-town Alberta hockey experience can be found in Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia…anywhere in Canada really. Hockey is to Canadians what Joanie is to Chachi.
In the spirit of narcissism, I present to you some of my favorite obscure hockey memories. Most of these are Oiler-related. It would be easy for me to talk about the moment Gretzky scored 50 in 39, or the first time Messier held up Lord Stanley’s cup. But doing so would be boring and unoriginal, so instead you get random little thoughts from my random little mind.
Rexall Place, Winter 1990 (I think it was called the Northlands Coliseum at the time). The Oilers are playing the Montreal Canadians, and Mark Messier has scored a hat trick leading the Oilers to a 6 – 0 lead. The fights in the stands that night were memorable, but what was more memorable for me was the crowd itself. Anyone who has attended a Habs – Oilers game in Edmonton knows that there are more Montreal fans than Oiler fans in the stands. On that night, with the Oilers destroying Montreal, Habs faithful began filing out of the arena at the beginning of the third period. The Oil fans in the crowd heckled them mercilessly. One Montreal fan wearing a Guy Lafleur jersey walked down the stairs to the boards, turned to face the crowd, and ripped of his jersey in disgust. He was greeted with a standing ovation and gales of laughter.
Rexall Place, Season Opener vs the LA Kings, 2005/2006 season? I forget the exact year. The pre-game show started with military drummers and special lighting, which was fun. But then, the team came out and the opening bars of Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People blared. A fan approximately 10 rows and 10 drinks ahead of me decided to start stripping to the beat. Which, if I remember the game correctly, was much better than the game itself, as the Oilers stunk up the joint. I do believe I remember noticing the stripper had man-boobs.
Rexall Place, Oilers vs the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2002(approximately). I won tickets in a raffle at work, and had excellent seats – Top row of the Golds, center ice. The opponent? The Jackets. Well, you can’t win’em all. Especially the Oilers. The Jackets were not a good team then, but the Oilers played what might be the worse hockey I’ve ever seen. They lost 2 – 1. What made the game memorable was the 15 year-old male sitting in the row behind me. When the first puck dropped in the game, he yelled, “come on, boyz!” He continued to yell, “come on, boyz!” over and over throughout the whole game. The Oilers were being booed by the fans by the third period for how badly they were playing, and the, “come on, boyz!” grew pathetic, eventually turning into a half-crying half-moaning sound. He must have yelled, “come on, boyz!” 200 times. It was fantastic.
My friend Rich’s basement, watching an interview from the dressing room with Oilers fighter Kevin McClelland after Oilers won the cup. While speaking to reporters, some jackass…could have been Marty McSorley…poured Champaign right in McClelland’s eyes. From that point on he squinted, winced, and rubbed his eyes insanely throughout the rest of the interview, and nothing he said made sense. I still remember my friend Rich saying, “gee, Kevin, you’re on TV. Quit rubbing your eyes!” Good times.
Rexall Place, Oilers vs the Dallas Stars. Approximately 2002. The ref was in a bad mood that night, and he kept calling the play dead for the teams making Premature Substitutions: Players jumping on the ice too soon during line changes. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a game where the play was stopped so frequently. The pace of the game suffered, and I believe it was 2 – 2 by the end of regulation. I was sitting with my sister and my nephews at the game, and the ‘phews were impressionable teens. During the third period, the ref once again blew the play dead, and the guy sitting behind me yelled, “oh, is it another premature ejaculation?” My nephews, along with the rest of the section, went wild. Teens love potty humor.
Rexall Place, Oilers vs Dallas, 2006 I think. I was way up in the nose bleeds and heard the sound of Matt Greene breaking his leg. It was perhaps the most horrible sound ever, and I swear the whole rink heard the sound of celery breaking. Crunch! Matt screamed in pain, and everyone in the stands winced. There are no tougher athletes than hockey players.
Final memory and I think I might have mentioned this before. I was in West Edmonton Mall the day the Oilers began selling the new Third jersey. You know, the one with the gears designed by Todd McFarlane. I walked up to the Oilers Store, and stood next to a man dressed in jeans and wearing a baseball hat. “Those new jersey’s look pretty great,” I said. He replied, “yeah, I think people like them.” Then, a couple of ten year old kids walked up to the man standing next to me, and handed him a pen. “Thanks, Mr. McFarlane,” one said, as he signed. After giving my head a shake, I ended up having a good conversation with him, and found out the guy who invented Spawn is down-to-earth, and a pretty great guy.
I hope some of you enjoyed my walk down memory lane. Someday if you get bored, I’ll tell you about the time my dad shared an elevator with Mike Tyson in his pre-ear eating days.
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