One afternoon, when I was 4 years old (1984), I was at the Ice Palace in West Edmonton Mall with my brother and parents. I don't remember what the event was or why I was there, but, the Edmonton Oilers were playing a charity shinny game with some guys wearing red jerseys to this day, I claim, that they were the flames. Not because I remember Lanny's moustache or even a flaming C, it was because, of course my Oilers won by a marginal 14-2. AFterwards, we were able to get autographs and meet sme of the greatest players ever to step on the Ice, at the time, they were just friendly giants to me.
That is the first day I remember seeing, hearing or experiencing hockey. I was from a village of 195 people, the rink we had was outdoors with snowbanks holding up the boards. The first day I ever loved Hockey, the first day I loved the Oilers.
As time passed I was able to observe these guys who I'd seen, in person, bring some very awesome years to hockey. It was surreal around here during the Oilers Stanley Cup years. Oiler fans bred themselves into an unrivaled loyalty to their team, it was at this time the Oilers began to mean more to us fans than the greats that player, The Oilers we more than 5 Cups and Peter Pocklington.
When the team went through their difficult years, it was very hard to be an Oiler fan, with the financial concerns taking front stage, and the constant threat of the team being sold and moved. It would be a lot like your parents telling you (as a child) for months and months that you might be moving far far away with little more than that. It strengthed our loyalty to this team, local people right from the mucky muck stood up and grabbed the reigns. The saved OUR team and them in OUR city.. OUR home.
Since those turbulent days, we've had varying degrees of Drama Mike Comrie's falling out, Chris Pronger's, Losing Glen Sather and Ryan Smyth. Still the fans are here for the Oilers. Not Kevin Lowe, Not the E.O.G, not the Players, But the Oilers.
It may difficult for many people out there to understand, Alberta is not the size that maps represent, and it certainly wasn't 20 years ago. The Oilers were something that brought the World to Edmonton in some sense. The celebrity that the Oilers created in 80's not only for themselves, but the city and province is impossible to explain.
Now, this is not dissimilar to many teams I am sure. The trials and tribulations for any of the original six teams definately exceeds that of the Oilers, Time in this case makes the contest one of attrition. How can you see in 20 years that which has been seen over 100.
No no no, the point is how many other fans are inundated by journalists and media types slandering and insulting their city and their team. Edmontonians, if you care to listen, would rarely care at all about negativity directed toward the city. The problem is that so many of the personalities base their statements in "fact" when clearly it is not. I have rarely read negative media about other cities (as it relates to hockey). Montreal and Toronto are hard fans to play for I've heard, and the same can be said for a number of places.
But inferences about the quality of life, proximity to and from major cities and the isolation from.. WITHOUT HAVING EVER VISITED, to say the least begins to grate the bare nerves. Everywhere, I look, listen and read is someone hammering on My home. True, ignore it, sticks and stones etc etc. But, this only goes so far.
Folks, I've said some pretty horrible things over the last few days, in posts and in chat. In all honestly, most if not all of completely personal and devoid of any kind of adult or mature defense of the team I support. Unfortunately, this even misrepresents the Oilers and their fans. Most fans while rabid and obnoxious are not cursing and swearing angry louts. For this I am regretful.
Eklund, Mr. Strickland and many many others I apologize for the personal attacks, and the absolutely disgusting behaviour I've displayed. There is no excuse.
I'm not a writer or a blogger or anything of the kind. I'm a nerdy hockey fan, who checks the rumor site, then the hockey news sites everyday, before even reading my e-mail or the first coffee of the day. Now do I represent anybody more than myself. But, what I hoped to accomplish here, was to shed some light on why fans, like myself, have reacted like we have.
We love this team, this city, this province and country (not neccesarily in that order) and have been exhausted by the constant slights against any.