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The Oil Experience

A Disgruntled 3L Fan

 

Rexall Place ‘crack beer’ – $9. Oilers season tickets  – $1400. A rare Edmonton Oilers win against the Western Conference Chicago Blackhawks – Priceless. After yet another season in which the fans’ mentality switched from optimism to “when is the draft?” by November – less than a quarter of the way through an 82 game season – the Edmonton Oilers achieved something that had not been seen since Professor Hopp last taught a law class: a win against the Chicago Blackhawks. And what a spectacular victory it was.

Despite Tyler Tober’s best taunts and a crowd of intoxicated Blackhawks fans who couldn’t get tickets in Chicago, but managed to trade a 12 pack of Lucky Lager for a family four-pack of tickets to the game in Edmonton, the Oilers pulled off a rare victory. It was only the 8th or 9th win of the season for the hockey club (I stopped counting the wins and started counting the games remaining to the end of the season in November) against a Blackhawks team with more wins than the Oilers had in points.

And yet, as the Oilers skated off the ice following a double-long salute that we don’t see too often, a feeling a defeat still hung over Rexall Place. After all, after three seasons of “Fail for Nail”, “Fall for Hall”, and “Lose for Nuge”, fans needed just one more three word phrase to immortalize yet another failed season: “Dishonor for Connor”. Pegged as the next Sidney Crosby, the 18 year old whiz kid from Newmarket, Ontario is a generational talent who will, despite poor defence, lacklustre goal-tending, and a first overall draft pick playing on the third line, be the saviour of the Edmonton Oilers. And so, as I crammed into the LRT on the way to First Friday Back after an Oilers victory, the feeling of defeat was very real – the Edmonton Oilers were now 29th in the NHL, and the chances of drafting an 18 year old to be the saviour of the hockey team dropped from 20% to 13.5%.

This wasn’t the end of the bad news though. The following morning, ticket prices for remaining Oilers home games increased from $10 to $20. Suddenly, because of a win against the Chicago Blackhawks, those students from other cities who would not normally have the chance to see an AHL – I mean NHL – hockey team play, or to experience the legendary $9 ‘crack beer’ would have to work another hour sitting at the library service desk to be able to make it to a game. I can only imagine where ticket prices will be when the Oilers manage to win two games in a row, a feat which has only occurred once this season.

And so, as January draws to a close, the Edmonton Oilers, with three first overall draft picks, are at a major crossroads. Should they go for the four-peat and fulfil the fans’ wishes by completing a successful campaign for “Dishonour for Connor”, or should they actually look like an NHL hockey team and win more than 1 game in a row?

Oilers’ management has been decidedly quiet on that front – while Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe has publically admitted that he “knows a thing or two about winning”, the meaning has been left for fan interpretation. Does he know a thing or two about winning the draft lottery, or winning hockey games? For this die-hard Oiler fan, I hope the answer is the draft lottery. You know what they say; if you can’t beat them at winning, beat them at losing. That way you still win at something.