I went to the Edmonton – Nashville game last week. Really shitty game as The Oilers sucked some serious ass and took a 5-3 loss. The playing was comically bad and I found myself guffawing throughout the game. I couldn’t do any better of course, and I’m not suddenly some big hockey critic, but I know a bad play when I see one. Zero power play efficiency. Giveaways galore. General shit-headedness. Probably the best part of the game was the singing of the anthems, where one lucky little boy joined the Oilers on the blue line (he won a contest of some kind – I forget what the details were). That was really amazing to see, and I think that the kid in every man in the crowd wanted to be that boy in that moment.
When it comes to hockey, I generally just like to see a good game. I don’t care too much about who wins (although seeing the E-town boys pull out a win is always very nice). In my opinion, one of the best things about hockey games is the people watching. It’s not too often that one gets to sit in close quarters with 15,000 people. You see all kinds.
The smug, moneyed middle-agers with turtlenecks, gold rings and luxury suite tickets. The cap-wearing beer bangers, always double-fisting the drinks and claiming that Coliseum beers are beefed up with crack. The young families with knee-high kids decked out in full Oilers regalia. The “hockey wives” who are just there for the Seagrams coolers. The real sports wives who are a fair sight crazier that their husbands. The big buckle cowboys in the upper bowl, throwin’ ‘em back and yelling every time the Oil go on a rush. The “free ticket takers” like myself who complain about parking and the price of a hot dog but gladly fork over the cash because they don’t go to many games. The wayward drunks wobbling down the stairs from the expansion seats, suffering from mild altitude sickness and getting up on the aforementioned cocaine-laced draught.
Like I said, I didn’t pay for my tickets. At over $100.00 a crack, I’d be hard pressed to do so on a regular basis1. To dyed-in-the-wool hockey fans, that kind of money isn’t a huge issue. To the casual / fair weather fan like myself, a hockey game is an astonishingly expensive night out. $100.00 plus for EACH of the tix; At least $30.00 for snacks, food, and drinks for two people (much, much more if you’re drinking $7.00 beers); $8.00 for parking. Depending on your seats, the cost of going to a hockey game could end up topping $300.00 (for two people). At that rate, two hockey games times two people could buy you a twelve pack of concerts at the ESO – decent seats, too. Of course, the two experiences are very different. It’s all a matter of where your interests and passions lie and what you want to spend your cash on. I don’t mind supporting the Oilers a bit. They do alot for this town.
1 To be fair, not all seats are in the $100.00 range. The seats I had were upper bowl, five rows up and behind the net. Not great seats, but they’re still worth over $100.00.
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?