It was an interesting scene around the Edmonton Oilers dressing room Monday morning. More smiles then I've seen to this point in camp. Maybe it's because the pre-season is over..maybe it's because they were headed to Jasper for a mountain retreat or maybe it was just because this is the team. All they are waiting for is a formal introduction from longtime PA announcer Mark Lewis. They are those that have thrived and also survived to be called an Edmonton Oiler. I understand part of this is due to injuries but don't stop that from crediting the players who have made it to this point. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
made it. He's on the team. Can't say that's just because he was the #1 pick. In fact the way this kid has played you'd think he was a walk on trying to prove he can play in the NHL. He'll now get his chance for 9 games and I expect more. Anton Lander
made it as well. He was really in the grey area of playing 4th line in the NHL or top two lines in the AHL. With Sam Gagner
week to week the Swede gets a look. While Lander and Nugent-Hopkins were not big surprises there were a few of those.
Put your hand up if you thought Lennart Petrell
was the name of a fish or Corey Potter
was the name of Harry Potter's cousin . In fact they are both hockey players and now Edmonton Oilers. On the training camp guides Petrell was between Kristians Pelss
and Tyler Pitlick
. He's a former Columbus Blue Jackets selection (190th in 2004) and one of 31 forwards on the camp roster. His odds of making it were about as likely as Tiger Woods surviving his 3 month probation after getting a job as a marriage counselor. Yet here he is at 27 living his dream. Potter,was selected by the New York Rangers 122nd in 2003. The defenceman is also 27, a career minor leaguer - excluding 9 games of NHL experience with the NY Rangers and Pittsburgh - but injuries opened the door and credit them for walking through it.
It does matter what names are on the back of the jerseys but it is eventually about what's on the front. A crest that says Oilers and has an Oil drop on it. In the past it has signified strength, intimidation, success, championships and power just to name a few. These last few years and in particular the last two the above words to describe the team don't come to mind. That's where this year's nucleus needs to turn back the clock but at the same time set it's own standards. It's great the Oilers won 5 Cups but now it's about now. It's getting to the point where so many of these kids weren't even born May 24, 1990 when the Cup was raised in the arms of an Oiler.
I'm not saying to ever forget the 5 Cups in 7 years or the way Edmonton played the game like so few before (Mtl from the 50's and 70's) and maybe just one after (Pittsburgh in the early 90's). This teams needs to win. A three letter word would go a long way in re-establishing tradition. That's how you do it. That's the only way to do it. October 9th is when it all begins. Enjoy the season.