|Young fans pressed up on the glass prior to the Oilers first playoff game.|
Photo courtesy of myself.
Now THAT was disappointing. I'm sure you'll take a game 7 disappointing playoff loss over ten years of not even getting to have that feeling, 97 times out of 97.
While there have been thousands of us who have stuck with the team through thick and thin, through several complete roster, coaching, and management changes, with the hope and belief of a better tomorrow, and unconditional love, this season end and playoff run has:
1. Instilled excitement and awe from new young fans (see photo). Yes, Connor McDavid most certainly has a lot to do with that, but you must include Cam Talbot, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Milan Lucic, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, and Darnel Nurse, among others into that mix now. Several years ago, many kids couldn't really name any of Oilers, let alone bother to watch them, because their parents didn't either. For you die hard parents who did watch them with your kids, you can't tell me your son(s) and/or daughter(s) didn't really have a favourite player--maybe Hall or Nuge, but not to the level of McDavidom. When parents are excited, kids are excited, and then the parents are even more excited that their kids are excited. It's a happy feedback loop. It's contagious. The kids are future season ticket holders.
2. Woke up the crowd at the arena. Holy wow was it quiet during the season. It was being called Rogers Library. Maybe we were just simply in tune with every nuance of the game and didn't like the distractions of cheering loudly. That first playoff game was magical. Every hit, every pass, every shot, blockshot, save had the crowd awing and ooing to noise levels comparable to some of the goals during the decade of darkness (DoD). So loud. So awesome.
3. Brought people together. I pretty much watch every game. Even during the DoD, die hard friends or my dad and I would get together to watch. But now everyone wants to watch. Friends and family who didn't watch before love watching now.
4. Made us hate the refs. I won't go into detail, but man, something has to be done. Hello, team owners!
A few more points about feelings... aw.....
I have this feeling that as we analyzed players and games over the last ten years, that we were able to somehow, but not really, bring this team to a higher ability winning level so that new and returning fans can enjoy this "thing" called the Oilers for years to come. You're welcome?
Maybe it was the false sense of pride we had during that time when Lowe and Co. made the team shittier and shittier, so that the hockey gods looked down upon how freaking dedicated we were, and granted us the Golden Ticket and the gift of Connor McDavid. But I don't believe that anymore. There has to be the components that bind the team together. Mark Messier used to say that every single person on the team is important. These Oilers have finally learned that again.
Throughout all of this, for all of us, and the players and staff, the most important thing is that the players:
5. Won our hearts.
And for that, we can be grateful, and ever hopeful.
Never give up.
Let's GO Oilers!