Monday, November 21, 2005


My calendar says it's 2005

Far be it from me to speak on behalf of today's Oilers fans, but why has the organization elected to make a big pre-game ceremony out of replacing all their championship banners? Maybe I have an overly short memory, but it seems like every time the Oil celebrates their past, the present suffers in a big way.

- On October 18th, Paul Coffey's number was retired with the Oilers on a three-game losing streak. They lost that game in OT, then lost three more before turning it around.

- November 22, 2003: the Oilers were chugging along at 10-7-2 before the Heritage Classic in Commonwealth Stadium. They lost that game (attendance: 57,167), and won 3 games in the rest of 2003 (17 games played). Despite incredible success after the All-Star break, they weren't able to climb out of that hole.

The irony that the banners are being replaced due to old age is apparently lost on Kevin Lowe, but I have to think that even Coach Mac is starting to dread these trips down memory lane. And Cosh can't be the only fan who is "finally fed up with Heritage Classics and living in the past..."

Someone named Gary Poignant writes in the Edmonton Sun today that raising 22 banners is a bit much: "Do us all a favour, Oilers brass, and give Stanley some space up there."

I think that until they get over this compulsion to look wistfully backwards, they're unlikely to need it.

MORE: I don't mean for it to sound like I think those previous two remembrances were a bad idea; they weren't. The Heritage Classic was by all accounts a wild success, and provided fans with actual entertainment and memories. The team's slump afterwards probably couldn't have been foreseen. Likewise, Paul Coffey earned his tribute, and I'm sure the fans at the game enjoyed it.

But tonight's proposed "ceremony" baffles me. Who is the ad wizard in the Oiler organization who thought, "You know what we need? A big to-do to remind our fans, and players, that we haven't won anything in 15 years! It's been a whole month since we acknowledged the greatness of the '80s Oilers!"

If the team has to stand on the bench for so much as a minute to witness this exercise in laundry maintenance, I think it's a terrible idea. Naturally, I hope things turn out as well as they did the last couple of times.


A fantastic element of the ta-doo is that the 1984-1985 Smyth Division banner is being reproduced exactly. That is, the "5", which is actually an upside down and reversed "2" is still being used.

I love it when someone's screw-up becomes institutionalized.

And apparently the original banners are being auctioned off for charity, which is kinda nifty. But Matt does a good job of speaking for this Oiler fan in the main entry.

(I have no problem with the concept of an outdoor game, and the Heritage Classic pre-game events reduced me to tear-streaked bear grease. I'd love it if planning for HC2 began at once. But the second time around shouldn't be another parade of oldies; there are umpteen other ways to fill the day--you could schedule a futures game, hold an ice-sculpture competition on the concourse, even bring in some of our local figure-skating legends for a short show.)

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