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PRINCIPE: New Season, New Hope

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers

If I had a dollar for every time this off-season a fan said to me "you must be excited about the upcoming season" I wouldn't need to win the Lotto Max. I'd have my own 'lottery' win just like the lottery win that started this all. I remember where I was when Wayne Gretzky beat Mike Vernon over the shoulder in the playoffs (Whitecourt), I remember where I was when Ben Johnson ran a 9.79 at the Olympics in Seoul (Grande Prairie). I remember where I was when Bill Daly flipped the gold card for Edmonton and the Oilers won the NHL Draft Lottery (Winnipeg). I think every Oilers fan knows exactly where they were when 'It' happened.

'It' has been the biggest change in an off-season for Edmonton since the Chris Pronger acquisition that propelled the Oilers to one win from a Cup. It might be a little early to be talking Stanley Cup but at least the conversation can be had without behind-your-back snickering. We know where Edmonton has been but now it's about where they are going. Every year, this is when 29 teams have a belief they can do what Chicago did last season. On a day where the Oilers had their medicals and physicals I think it's the mind that could be in the best shape it has been in for years.

They came out one-by-one from Benoit Puliot, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ben Scrivens, Ryan Nugent Hopkins and anyone else who spoke on Thursday. They all discussed the new feel, buzz and vibe going on around the Oilers. It's something you see and hear and according to Todd McLellan, it's something you can feel. The new coach, who hasn't been around for some long off seasons, has already noticed the change around the club. Walking around the city, when he's outside the rink nothing needs to be said about what's going on with the Oilers.

I've always been impressed by the undying love that Oiler fans have shown for their team. Yes, isolated incidents have been very visible when it comes to people showing they're unhappy but I never believed they stopped caring. Now they have been rewarded with an off-season that may go down as the biggest in the history of the organization. The summer of '88 that saw Wayne Gretzky get traded was huge. The team did succeed after losing the game's greatest player and still won a Stanley Cup. In the rebuild of the organization, 2015 may be seen as the turning point for the next decade and a half.

There is a lot expected of the Edmonton Oilers. What that is depends on who you are and who you talk to. What everyone agrees on is this team will be better because of who they drafted, traded for, signed and hired. It's shaping up to be a season filled with anticipation of better results. By the way my answer is "Yes' on whether I'm excited about the upcoming season and I'm sure you are as well.
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