The battle of Alberta is not yet what it once was. Slowly, that's changing. No longer are these the fighting days of Dave Semenko and Tim Hunter. Instead these have been the years of a one sided battle where the outcome was known before the initial puck drop. But as I have already mentioned, slowly things are changing.
If you blinked you might have missed it, but in Tuesday night's horrific loss to the San Jose Sharks the Edmonton Oilers pulled out a play made famous by Emilio Estevez's Mighty Ducks movies. That's right, the flying V took flight. It was only briefly, and perhaps because it didn't lead to a goal, wasn't used again that game. But after photos have made their twitter rounds, we finally have video evidence.
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.
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.
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.
For some, hockey bloodlines run deep. And while those bloodlines may help a player get their foot in the door, that’s going to be as far as it can take you. At some point, talent has to take front and centre stage. With Edmonton Oilers' prospect defenceman David Musil, his bloodlines helped develop him into a WHL player, but it was his talent that got him drafted 31st overall at the 2010 NHL entry draft, and a position on the 2012 Czech Republic World Juniors Team.
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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