With the Oilers’ Stanley Cup dreams hanging from a swiftly vanishing thread, it’s time for fair weather fans like me to start thinking about life after the playoffs. Like everyone else, I’m hoping that the Oil can pull a major miracle out of their asses and force a seven game series. Here’s hoping. Whether the Oil do it or not, life will return to normal in less than a week. No more scheduling events around hockey games. No more workplace dissections of the previous night’s plays. No more Whyte Avenue shitfacery with pallet-fuelled bonfires and Captain Morgan’s-induced bare boobies. No more tinfoil Stanley Cups. No more Oilers tattoos. I won’t miss the game day stress, but I’ll miss the zeitgeist.
When the ride is done I, like many of my fair weather brethren, will go back to not reading the sports section, not having an Oilers car flag, not watching many regular season games, and not having much to say about hockey. I’m not ashamed of those facts, that’s simply the way it’ll work. I’ve never claimed to be a hardcore fan like my good pal Prairie Dog, a guy who eats, breathes, and shits hockey. For him, my other buddies, and all other lifetime Oilers fans, this playoff bout is a dream come true. And it’s been a fuckuva dream – full of more drama, victory, pain, tension, and heartbreak than any epic Russian novel. Full of more machismo, braggadocio, muscle, and genuine heart than any Martin Scorsese film. For me, it’s been an exhilarating diversion. It’s also been a lesson in crowd behavior and what happens when 30,000 happy drunk people pour into the streets in celebration. It’s been a lesson in the craziness of fan loyalty, and the sheer beauty of joining the community and standing together in support of a common cause. It’s been a lesson in giving high-fives and hugs to people on the street. And it’s been fun getting to know the players. Before this playoff run, I could name perhaps two of them. Now, I can name most. Does all of this mean that I’ll be buying season tickets next year? No, but you can bet I’ll be attending a few regular season games.
The Oilers have given this rusty ‘ol town a slice of an improbable dream and for that we should all be grateful, even if that dream doesn’t quite come true. They’ve given all of us the most amazing ride in recent collective memory. They have galvanized this city like no other event has. Even if the Oil don’t pull it out of the fire, I think that a public celebration and acknowledgment is in order. They deserve to be recognized for what they’ve done. They haven’t done anything earth-shattering, but for a few spring months in 2006, they gave the city of Edmonton its pride back. They gave us a group of heroes to believe in, a drama to get lost in, and a story that nobody will soon forget. And that’s worth something.
Now get Brind’Amour out of the picture and bring home The Cup!
Oilers fans start a fire
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?