Since they were little my kids have always asked to go camping. We had a neighbour with a camper and it always seemed like fun to hang around. Playing inside of it was enough to keep them entertained. They didn't even need the campsite to go along with it. Camping is something people do to get away, relax and spend time with family and friends. After a summer of taking off for weeks or weekends to your favourite lakes and bodies of water it's a different camping that's now on the minds of many.
Hard to believe, but it's time for Oilers Training Camp. No time for a swim or a BBQ or even a walk at the most beautiful 'campsite' you'll ever find named Rogers Place. There will be moments put aside for a bike ride but this isn't a casual spin down a pathway. Instead, one day will be spent poking and prodding. Bending and flexing and proving they are in the kind of shape it takes to play on an NHL team. For the players, it's the worst day of the year, but a necessary one.
Hard to believe when we left you, Edmonton was putting the finishing touches to a season and an era. Goodbye to Rexall Place and 42 years of memories. A home win over Vancouver and reminiscing about the past. Now it's about the present and the future. The building is awesome and the organization is working on a team to match it. While Peter Chiarelli has built a dynamite squad for the World Cup, his primary concern is doing the same for the Oilers. He showed this off-season he is not afraid to make changes.
His first was the biggest one. The trading of Taylor Hall. I remember where I was when Wayne Gretzky was traded (basement apartment in Grande Prairie) and I remember where I was when Hall was moved to New Jersey (my backyard). Tough to lose Taylor but great to get back a necessity in Adam Larsson. A strong, dependable defenceman with more upside on the way. With the shock waves of that deal simmering down Edmonton landed the biggest fish in the UFA pond when Milan Lucic signed on the dotted line. It had been rumoured, but until Canada Day, no one knew for sure. A Stanley Cup winner, a leader, a point producer and a guy you'd rather play with than against.
Some things just fell into Edmonton's lap. Like a 6-foot-3, 205-pound Finnish teenager with skill. The Oilers never expected to get Jesse Puljujarvi but were mighty happy they did with the fourth overall pick. He didn't do anything to temper excitement after his stellar play at the Young Stars Tournament. From the big moves listed above to smaller house keeping issues. They have a backup goalie in Jonas Gustavsson. A potential experienced winger in Kris Versteeg. They also had time to heal injuries with the most notable one being Oscar Klefbom. There is a lot to look forward to as Edmonton sets itself - minus the World Cup players/staff - for its start. Say goodbye to your sleeping bags, tent trailers and RV's for the coziness of Rogers Place where the Oilers will be camped out for the season.