I love the Oilers, but let’s face it, my love is jaded by past success. The age of dominant superiority over the league, and particularly Calgary, has been lost. Winning by will seems no longer a part of their repertoire, and at times those that bleed copper and blue must feel the way Calgary fans have felt for so many years. The spark needed to ignite a flame so pure and brilliant it can cut through any team remains a legend alongside the big red mustache, big crooked nose and limitless limited talent.
The game has changed. Like soccer, one goal can seem insurmountable when defensive lockdowns freeze games in carbonite. There are no more overweight out-of-shape defensemen that can only turn one way to give frantic chase to elite players who’ve exposed their blindside. There are no more generals threatening to beat a better effort out of a teammate who’s been circling the rink and dodging traffic like a public skater. Skills and coaching are now matched so closely that the difference leads to the perception of mediocrity. Like black belt jujitsu practitioners rolling on the ground for a joint lock instead of standing up one for one punch victories. In practice, solo feats of skill border on magic, but when matched with swarming and equal opponents, well…it’s like pickup games on outdoor rinks where there can’t be too many men on the ice, players switch sides to stay on offense and you only resort to positional play to catch your breath. For the highly educated fan, it can appear as a titanic matchup where goals and between goals are equally appreciated. For others, however, it’s like the seesaw battle waged in so many washrooms around the world when constipation strikes.
But then there’s Connor, blessed with Jedi blood, Leon’s magical moves of Frankenstein, and RNH, who can mind meld with opponents to read plays 3 seconds in advance. With flashes of brilliance there is hope, but the flashes must once again ignite the Mighty Oilers to burn and guide their way to ultimate victory so we can once again hear the call over the crackling wireless “THE OILERS HAVE WON THE STANELY CUP!!!”.
Loses lead to pain and anguish for Oiler fans, but in this time of unprecedented back bending, inclusivity, equality and pronoun selection please remember the fans in the hinterlands of Lacombe, Red Deer and Innisfail, who live, work and at times marry Flames supporters. We are the ones who take the slings and arrows in the office and at home that make the tears of happiness and disappointment that much sweeter and saltier. We are the frontline supporters that deserve so much to host the first parades when La Coupe Stanley returns to Oil Country. But until we’ve attained the holy grail, please join with us in prayer to ask that our friendships and marriages with Flames fans endure, but that they will never win a second Stanley Cup.