I went to my first ever Oilers game at Rogers Place on Sunday night against Carolina. Being from Saskatoon it’s pretty much either Edmonton or Calgary and I think most people would choose Calgary which is what we did In 2016 when we attended a Flames playoff game. The option to go to an Oilers game last year? No thanks.
The Oilers lost Saturday night against their biggest rival; the Calgary Flames. When I got the tickets for Sunday I figured we might get a poor effort: a Sunday night game, on a back to back, against a team nobody cares about added up to that. Maybe coming off a loss you could expect better. The Oilers went down 3-0 in the first 10 minutes and didn’t get a shot until the 10:30 mark. The game ended 7-4 and I’ll say this, as someone who’s read every article, seen every report and watched every story on the Oilers for the past 15 years. It’s not hard to argue that things are the worst they have ever been in Edmonton.
1. The reason this year is so much worse than anytime from 2007-2014 is because there was no Connor McDavid, and new rink. The building was old, nobody wanted to come to Edmonton because there was nothing. Now there is a brand new building, the best player in the world and the organization is still a punching bag.
2. Longtime Oilers media members like Spector, Rishaug and Tychkowski are usually pretty defensive of the team and the moves. Spector and Rishaug work for National companies so they aren’t as apologetic as the others. But the media members see the Coach and GM of this team often and as a member of the media you want to develop relationships with the players and coaches, so they give you a good answer. Lately Rishaug and Spector have both called out management on numerous occasions, for good reason but it’s something you rarely ever see.
3. Listening to TSN 1260, 630 CHED and refreshing twitter the last couple days; there is numerous calls, texts and tweets read on air from season ticket holders saying there is a serious conversation to be had in their household about renewing the tickets that have been in the family for 30 years. Lots of people buy and then sell the tickets but it was evident on Sunday night against Carolina, the lower bowl was no more than 75% sold and ticket prices were far below face value
4. As mentioned before, this is a big year for Edmonton. When Rogers Place opened there were either 3, 5 or 10 year lease options for the Suites and season tickets. The 3 years is up at the end of this year.
5. You cannot walk 10 steps in that rink without being reminded of the 1980s. Walking into the rink there is a timeline of the Oilers which mainly focuses on the 80s until McDavid getting drafted but the shot of him is with Darryl Katz’ son. In the media room you can see the old jerseys, old cups and Gretzky’s old stall. While you’re looking through the window, you’re also standing beside the Gretzky statue. You walk into the building and the escalator up to Ford Hall has the cup banners beside it. After you get your ticket scanned there is a big picture of Mark Messier on the wall and all the years the Oilers won the cup. Walk another few steps and there’s a shot of Wayne Gretzky. Go to your seats and you see the Cup banners in the rafters, the retired jerseys (which every team has) and the banner for being named the best team of all-time in 1984-85. Then there’s a commercial on the jumbotron 3 times a period to checkout club 99. I’m not saying ignore history but leave the past in the past.
6. Walk around the concourse and there is “Bobby Nicks Grill”. Yes, the man who has been CEO for a whole 3 years and had the easiest job in the world running Hockey Canada. What a great accomplishment by winning when you had the best players in the world to choose from
7. There’s lots of comments about the old boy’s club in Edmonton and how any alumni can just get a job. That’s obviously got to change. The organization should cleanse themselves of any alumni and hire people with hockey backgrounds. Tell me how Kyle Dubas’ hockey career went? He’s now the GM of the richest and most popular NHL franchise.
8. Even we could see Wayne Gretzky a little less. TSN 1260 made a great point today when they said he only ever speaks when it’s negative…. And it’s true. When Darryl Katz knows he is in a panic situation, he rolls out Wayne to remind everyone of simpler times. But now a new wave of fans is here and doesn’t really care.
9. Peter Chiarelli and Bob Nicholson obviously have to go. Chiarelli has made this team far worse than when he arrived. He gets obliterated on twitter for every move he makes, he often says the wrong things (like when he said the Defensemen didn’t move the puck well even though he put them together). Nicholson on the other hand is still living in a Hockey Canada world and constantly defends Chiarelli when he has no leg to stand on.
10. Last thing: The Owner of the team won’t change, as long as Gary Bettman is getting his money he doesn’t really care. Chiarelli is apparently on the hot seat but his moves still need to get verified making the organization worse. The Oilers are still only 3 points out of a playoff spot but only 6 points up on Chicago for being the worst team in the NHL.