Friday, September 23, 2005


Preview 2/4, tonight @ 7PM

As the Flames and the Oil prepare for their 2nd preseason encounter tonight at the 'Dome, I find my thoughts drifting toward Whyte Avenue, as in:

Do you realize that most of the Utes that will pour into Whyte Ave bars tonight have absolutely no memory of the Edmonton Oilers winning the Stanley Cup? Or even of the Oilers as an elite team?

We all treasure our memories of the big wins, and there are certainly a lot of sports arguments that can be settled with one word: "scoreboard". Those banners in the rafters of SkyRex Coliseum aren't going anywhere. But it's time to get over it. The Leafs have more Cup rings than (most of) their fans have fingers, but anyone who would show them off as evidence of the franchise's cosmic superiority has spent too much time drinking overpriced draft at 99 Blue Jays Way.

It would seem that the Muslims of Edmonton are attuned to reality:
Most of us may have seen the "Welcome to Edmonton, City of Champions" sign which welcomes every motorist entering the city of Edmonton. For many, this sign may no longer have any bearing.

Thank you! The sign surely has value -- as kitsch, as a snapshot of days gone by, as a monument to kharma sabotage -- but it's over. The Edmonton Oilers can no longer be considered a championship franchise. Haven't gotten out of the first round since 1998. Haven't gotten out of the 2nd round since 1992. Haven't won the Cup since 1990. Haven't won their own division since 1987!

With the presumable exception of Glen Sather, the legacy of the individuals involved with the 5 Cups is secure. It's time for Oil fans to stop gripping at the distant past, and worry about the team escaping the utter mediocrity of the past 15 years. Move along, people!


Interesting footnote. The City of Champions sign is actually not a reference to the Oilers, but rather to these gals, who ammassed an astounding 502:20 record between 1915 and 1940.

However, since that time, I think it is fair to say that Edmonton has had a few other Champions, including some pretty recent ones.

Fair enough, Edmonton has the advantage in champion cyclists and bobsledders. Calgary will have to be satisfied with the better pro hockey team -- you know, those guys whose skates don't have picks on the toes.

If, of course, by better you mean having one good season over the last 8.

Or were you talking about the Hitmen?

Do we really have to get in to this? In 2002, Cam Cole wrote an article for the National Post declaring Edmonton the best sports city in Canada. I fail to see how that has changed. In terms of public support, hosting major events, and performance, Edmonton has no other rival. I actually heard that idiot Steve Simmons declare on "The Reporters" two weeks ago that Toronto was the best sports city in Canada. Sure, if supporting one team is all that matters.

Sacamano forgot to add:

Hosting of the World Track and Field Championships, 2001
Edmonton Trappers PCL Attendance Records
Edmonton Trappers Win 2 PCL Championships
Edmonton Eskimos Have Won 12 Grey Cups
Average Attendence At Eskimos Games In 2003 Was Around 41,000
Eskimos Have Made The Playoffs for 33 Straight Years
Golden Bears Hockey Championship, 2004
11 Golden Bears Hockey Championships
Pandas CIS Volleyball Champions, 1995-1999
Pandas Hockey Championships, 2002-2004
Pandas Hockey Win 111 Straight Games from 2001 to 2005
Host of the Canadian Finals Rodeo
Host of the 2005 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships
Host of the ITU Triathlon World Championships, 2001
Host of the Edmonton ITU World Cup
Host of the 2005 World Masters Games

I could go on and on, without ever mentioning the Oilers or a Stanley Cup. Throw in a better University, better Festivals, a nicer river valley, a better education system, and a better health region,and let's just call it a day. Calgary can keep the corporate head offices, Red Mile and Stampede.

AND: so far, there has not been a single decade in Alberta's history of mass human settlement when Edmonton did not enjoy the better hockey at the highest level. Eddie Shore was pasting people into the boards hereabouts when Calgarians were still trying to figure out which end of the stick to point toward the ice. Our Stanley Cup history goes back to 1908. We had better pro clubs before the second war, better junior clubs until the 1970s, and a better WHA club. It's hard to blame Matt for wanting to erase the record; the truth is that Calgary's one Stanley Cup is the real anomaly, not our five (count 'em, five).

And don't forget Johnny "The Chief" Bucyk. My grandparents STILL talk about him and his time with the Oil Kings, before he went on to the Bruins.

Oh Christ Grabia - you forgot to mention all those people who show up to watch soccer games. And wouldn't you like to brag about hosting the Scott Tournament of Hearts in there somewhere? Half-marathons - YGBSM!

Cosh, there's one decade that you might want to look a little more closely at, and that's the one that ended in 2000. The one that's currently underway is pretty debatable all of a sudden as well. Hey wait - that's exactly what this post was about!

And as for Cam Cole's authority to make such a pronouncement, well, Milhous comes to mind:
"Who has better vacation ideas than Triple-A? According to the publishers of this Triple-A guidebook, no one!"

Facts, Matt. Facts. Do you have no other rebuttals than rhetoric? In fact, I will add those items to my list, because they are further examples of a city that supports all types and levels of athletics. It's better than a bunch of women flashing their breasts because their team LOST in the Stanley Cup final.

Anyone ever think about having a Edmonton-Calgary blogger street hockey tournie? That way, we could actually do something other than engage in pissing matches.

I'm seriously amazed. Cosh objects to my argument that Oil fans are living in the past by going further into the past, and Grabia wants to claim that Edmonton is a bigger sports host.

What WAS that thing sacamano and I skipped two weeks of Grade 9 to watch? Oh, right!

I still get all misty when I hear David Foster.

Although, I also blame those missing two weeks for my continued inability to calculate an SI mole of anything.

I believe Cosh was speaking further to my point, which is that Edmonton is just an all around better sports city. Both historically and present day. The Olympics were great, but what have you done since then? The Stampede every year, one Stanley Cup, and I think a couple Grey Cups. That's it, unless you count the Ezra Levant-Stephen Harper mud wrestling match of 2002.

Damn, I forgot Stampede Wrestling. Okay, maybe Calgary IS a better sports town. Damn Vietcong Express.

Wait a second. You're suggesting that the Flames were better in the 1990s than the Oilers?

Just to recap for those who are coming to this party late, both teams went to the playoffs six times in the 1990s. The Oilers ran up an 11-5 record in 16 series and won a Stanley Cup. The Flames went 0-6. And I guess it would be "living in the past" to call particular attention to 1991.

My math says that last decade, the Oilers went 6-6 in playoff series, with two trips to the conference finals. That's clearly more impressive than the Flames 0-5 series record.

How-evah, there were also several years in the middle where Calgary was an elite team while Edmonton was one of the worst teams in the league (on account of Slats' limited budget, as I recall).

My point, for whatever it's worth, is that at no time from Jan1991 to Dec2000 could an Oilers fan plausibly argue that they had a top team, whereas a Flames fan quite easily could. This is relatively indisputable, and it doesn't easily jibe with Edmonton "enjoying the better hockey at the highest level".

Of course, that 1991 series was exciting, gut-wrenching, and devastating -- I look at it kind of like Andy sees his Item #2 here.

Oh 91, when Fleury did that damn slide down the ice in game six, only to be avenged by Tikkanen one game later. That one might have made it on my list if I had remembered.

Another one that might have made it is that slapshot of Gretzky's over the shoulder of Vernon in 88.

And what about Mess' dominance of the Blackhawks in 90? I still can't believe we gave him up for Stev Rice, Louie Debrusk and that baby Nicholls.

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