Only two rookies in the opening game of the 2013 Edmonton Oilers season. Two rookies, but still a plethora of youth.
Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz would see their first NHL minutes in Vancouver, looking for their first goals against elite netminder Roberto Luongo. These are the things memories are made of.
Trades can never be easy. In order to get something of value, you have to lose something of value and often times more. And so it was for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL in their quest to acquire veteran defenceman and Edmonton Oilers’ prospect David Musil, then of the Vancouver Giants. Many saw this trade as inevitable, as this is Musil’s last season in the WHL, and he was the lone Oiler draft pick that was not playing for the Oil Kings. Going to the Giants was their first round 2013 draft pick (a low pick if the Oil Kings make another Memorial Cup run) and a defenceman who looked to be a key part of the future defence; Mason Geertsen.
The plight of the fans is what has been most discussed in Edmonton during the lockout. In the NHL's northermost city, where the winter is long and the hours of daylight are short, the winter blues are a reality. For some, the blues are combated with the obsession over the home team, that and beer consumption that just seems to make everything seem a little less important even if just for the time being.
Knowing just how badly the city of Edmonton wanted the NHL back, the Oilers got a little creative and played their first game outdoors, in the park. And didn't sell a single ticket.
In an odd turn of events, the Oilers may have too many defencemen. But by too many defencemen, I mean one too many defenceman. But that’s a welcome change from past seasons and scrambling to put warm bodies, including Cam Barker into the lineup every night. And of course, the injury bug has already struck the Oilers, and the team may have just enough players at this given moment thanks to GM Steve Tambellini’s efforts.
The draft rankings can get a little murky once you pass the top five. Even after the top three one tends to see a lot of variation from scout to scout, and so for many teams it becomes a matter of what they value and need the most that will lead them to pick one player over another.
For Edmonton Oil King centre Curtis Lazar bouncing around first round draft ranking has been something everyone constantly reminds him of this season, but somehow remains something he claims he never thinks about.
So the lockout is over, well in theory at least. And now begins the speculation that should have happened in September; which team made the biggest and best improvements. For Oil Country the additions of Justin Schultz on the blue line and Nail Yakupov up front gave hope for the next season, but hope for a 29th place team may not amount to much. After all even improving by one place may prove to be a challenge as evidenced by the previous two first overall picks.
It's been a good long while since the battle of Alberta held much meaning to the average hockey fan. It's been years since the Oilers would walk into the Saddledome and it was anyone's game.
Slowly, that has started to change in the NHL last season, but when it comes to the WHL this season, the Hitmen seem to have the Oil Kings' number. For their final meeting of the regular season (yes that's right, not even Christmas but these two teams are not to meet again) the Oil Kings wanted to leave their mark. A 4-1 victory over the home team may have done just that.
It wasn’t snow or rain that fell from the heavens Sunday afternoon in the Calgary Saddledome. No, it was teddy bears, lots and lots of teddy bears; 21, 453 to be exact. While the toy total pales in comparison to the Hitmen’s 2007 North American record of 26, 919 bears collected, the joy felt by the thousands of children who benefit from this year’s event makes it all worthwhile.
This hockey season has been full of surprises, even if they are not all big ones. I know that many of you saw the current lockout coming, but many of us were optimistic enough to the think that the players and owners would be able to see that the fans drive and fuel their league and that shutting the fans out from the game they love would surve no purpose. But, there is more to hockey than the as of yet non-existant NHL season.
The CHLPA is still in it's infancy and the loudest cry is for a better scholarship program. To those involved with the CHLPA the amount of time a player has to choose to take the scholarship money is too short. In the WHL it is the September of the year after the player's final year of WHL eligibility. While I cannot say that I am for or against the idea of a players union for the CHL players, I can say that I want to know more. But, it is excellent news to hear that so many players are taking advantage of available scholarship money this year.
Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison announced today that a total of 301 WHL graduate players have been awarded WHL Scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year.
The WHL Scholarship recipients are enrolled as full-time students in 68 different post-secondary institutions throughout North America.
This season 183 of the 301 WHL Scholarship recipients are furthering their education while playing elite hockey in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Association. In Western Canada 125 of these student athletes are playing in the Canada West University Conference, including Mount Royal University which joined the Canada West Conference for the 2012-13 season, and have combined their WHL Scholarship with additional financial assistance from their University to receive Western Canada’s Premier Hockey Scholarship.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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