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PRINCIPE: What a Week!

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Photo by Andy Devlin | Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club

Hello everyone and put your hand up if you felt like you had a hangover Saturday morning? I'm not talking about anyone who went to Glen Sather's after party on Friday night. This, to me, wasn't about what people drank but what they soaked in this past week in Edmonton. If you're an Oilers fan you want the team to keep playing but a day or two of rest isn't a bad thing. Wow, I can't remember such excitement and so many ups and downs on the ice, in the stands and in the standings in such a short time. I'm not sure where to start but after a day off on Monday, a practice Tuesday it was game time Wednesday vs. San Jose.

The 'Todd Father' was the focus in the middle of the week. Todd McLellan going up against his old team. The only NHL team, other than Edmonton, he had ever been on the bench as the head coach. Seven years he had the Sharks at, or near, the top of the table in the NHL. Winning a President's Trophy (117 points 08/09), division titles, and playoff series. Then next thing you know it's one of those "It's not you, it's me" breakups and 29 games into his time with the Oilers he's looking at the teal-coloured team as the enemy. I wouldn't say it didn't go off without a few stumbles but they won. A couple weeks ago it was the GM Peter Chiarelli's old team. This week, the coach's old club.

The win versus San Jose had sentimental value but it was just an appetizer for a night of overwhelming sentiment for a man named Glen Sather. Architect, builder, coach, GM, father figure, disciplinarian and other words were used to describe someone also known as 'Slats'. Thursday, the city honoured him by proclaiming December 11 'Glen Sather Day'. There was a one million dollar donation in his name for community rink development thanks to the Katz family and the Oilers Community Foundation. That's also about the amount of stories Sather had to tell about the 'Glory Years' when 5 Cups from 1984-1990 made Edmonton into a dynasty.

That was the beginning of two days and nights that was all about Glen. Former players, coaches, staff, GMs, friends and family gathered to honour him. It was the lead up to an entrance that only Don Metz could have dreamed up. A cigar and a stroll from his customary perch high above Rexall Place all the way down to ice level. Walking through the stands, shaking hands with fans and former players and staff during his decades with the club. Waiting for him at centre ice was a group of Glen's closest friends/players/adversaries and his family. A lovely banner was raised and a fantastic speech to follow where the 72 year old proclaimed himself the luckiest man on earth.

Then the game -- and what a game -- back and forth. I checked the calendar and I know it says 2015 but it felt more like 1985. Back and forth. Old style open ice hockey. No traps, no left wing locks. It led to 12 goals, 7 for Edmonton and 5 for New York. Lauri Korpikoski with his first career hat trick coming against his old team. He was a 19th-overall pick in 2004 of the Rangers. Sather traded him to Phoenix in 2009 and 6 years later he came back to haunt his former team and GM. He wasn't the only story. How about Taylor Hall? Best I've seen him play. Scoring big goals game after game. A top scorer in the league. Then there is Leon Draisatl. I see why they call him the German Gretzky as he continues to impress with his play and points. Anders really is a Giant in net. Another night and another win. Let's not forget about the team or this homestand. A sweep of five straight. Hadn't been done since, you guessed it, Glen Sather was the coach in 1987. Then there's the standings as Edmonton is jostling for playoff position. Yes, playoff position. It's been a lot to take in but what a week it was in Edmonton and for the Oilers.
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