From the top row at centre ice, a young Dave Semenko slipped into the newly built Northlands Coliseum to sit down and take in the arena view.
Little did he know, three years later, Semenko would be playing on that very surface he stepped in to admire.
“When I played junior in Brandon [Wheat Kings] we played against the Oil Kings in the old building [Edmonton Gardens],” he said. “I wandered over here, and the building was open, and I sort of remember running up to the top seat in this place — sitting up here and looking down — not knowing that three years from now I’d be playing here.”
Dressing for his first Oilers game in 1977, Semenko went on to play 10 seasons with Edmonton in the WHA and NHL.
It’s one of many memories Semenko cherishes, and as Oil Country prepares to say their final farewell to Rexall Place on April 6, he is trying to pinpoint what the night will have in store.
“It’s probably going to be an emotional time,” the legendary enforcer said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in this building over the years, after I’ve played, working with the team, being up in this press box, so it’s hard to say. To realize it’s coming to an end here… it’s going to be strange, definitely.”