I’m sure it started before I can even remember. The orange and blue. A fiercely disturbing colour pair outside of sports. But on the ice, it’s like magic. It’s sharp and clean and mesmerizing. It’s The Edmonton Oilers.
I remember watching hockey on the couch with my dad. It was definitely pre-kindergarten age, so 3 or 4? My hair would be wet from the bath I just had and I’d bring down my brush and detangling spray for dad to comb my hair. Mom wasn’t allowed to do my hair, only dad. He was the best at pony tails and making sure it never hurt. Then I’d run up and put it all away as fast as I could so I could snuggle up with him on the couch to watch our team. Usually, he’d have a beer in hand, I like to pretend I used to sneak sips, but I think I fully made that up in my head.
We really weren’t a great team, sometimes we’d make the playoffs and lose out round one, sometimes we wouldn’t make the playoffs at all. But this one time… We went all the way.
Playoff run 2006
Was it even a question by now, who my favourite team was? The 2005-2006 season was special, one of a kind given the fate of the next ten years. The Oilers were everyone’s favourite team in school too, I mean I’m sure some of them were just there for the thrill of it, but it made it more than just a sports team. It was a community, people had flags hanging out of their cars, banners in their front windows, dyed orange and blue hair. And, we had homemade signs. Every lunch time we would bring out our printer sized pieces of paper with “Honk if you love the Oilers” written on it. We’d stand next to the fence adjacent to the road and hold our signs high and proud. Rolly the goalie made it onto a couple of them; the blue and orange pencil crayons were a hot commodity. Every honk, every cheer, it felt like a win for the team and the community. It was electric. We went on to lose in the Stanley Cup final. A real heartbreak. But I don’t think any of us were prepared for what came next.
A decade-long drought
It’s been a long road. A long time. A lot of heckling. And that’s just for me– as a fan! I can’t even begin to understand what it’s like as a player. But, through and through, time after time, they were my favourite. Our favourite. The home team. We kind of just disappeared into the dust, into the background. No one feared us, no one really cared. But we did. We held on #loyaltotheoil #bleedblue #oiltown. Every game, we were there. Whether it was in the stands, on our couch or at the bar. We were there. Little bouts of magic happened here and there. Great players came and went. Hopes were high and then dreams were crushed. Not just for the players. For us too. We endured a long, long battle. But we never gave up, never threw the towel in. Because this is our team. The home team.
The 2017 Playoff Run
This year has been wild. It catches me off guard every time. Wait, we won? In regulation time? We got more than one shutout? We got a shutout!? Believe it, baby, because we’re back. Who knows what this post season will entail, who knows if we’ll even make it to the second round. We’ll hold on, and we’ll cheer until the end of the end. But this isn’t the last and final season. The Edmonton Oilers will always be our team- the home team. We’ll fight, we’ll make noise. And we’ll cheer for OUR team. I couldn’t care less about any other teams. Congrats on your good players and great stats. We have those too (I can say that now). The first game I ever went to we played Carolina. We lost. The next game I go to, well, it could just be the Stanley Cup Final.
I could go on forever, I have a memory from every game I’m sure. But the bottom line is, we’ve been here through the bad and now we’re sticking around to bask in the good. Like I JUST said to my sister- we’re all fans in our own way. I’d love to hear your fan story 🙂