After the sweet sounds of a melodious shootout victory in Vancouver, the Edmonton Oilers' home season started on a sour note. Literally.
As the Oilers tend to do, they invited a local music artist to sing the national anthems. I don't think that this young lady will be invited back given the reaction from both fans and media on twitter. It's not as though she didn't try her best, she just never found her comfort zone, and she appeared to cringe as much as I was listening to her. You have to give her props for standing up to sing in front of nearly 20, 000 people live, and countless more on national television... but I can't applaud the performance. And funny enough, the same can be said of the Oilers' performance.
Mitch Moroz wasn’t the name fans expected. No, many expected pretty much any name but with the second pick of the second round at the 2013 NHL entry draft. But the Oilers had their man with Nail Yakupov, they missed out on Henrik Samuelsson and didn’t intend to miss out on Mitch Moroz. You see, Tambellini was adamant that he was after character players, and filling needs with all remaining picks of the entry draft. With Moroz, the team took strength, skills and a personality that can at times be larger than life.
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.
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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