It's been quite the opening week to the 2021-22 NHL season.
A lot has happened around the League and it's been no different in Edmonton.
I shouldn't have needed a reminder but I got one last Wednesday night about the importance of hockey. With Vancouver set as the opponent on opening night, I arrived at the rink for a little television time on Sportsnet with Tim & Friends. It was 4pm. Game time was 8pm. I saw fans wearing their Oilers jerseys milling around outside Rogers Place. I saw more fans at that moment than I had seen in one playoff bubble and one shortened season. It was always so quiet, but not anymore.
It certainly helps that the local team has put together back-to-back wins over Canadian counterparts. In the opener, after a warm welcome back, they took an early lead to give the fans something to holler about. Long-awaited cheers that eventually saw a wide-open overtime and a shootout win.
Video: OILERS TODAY | Post-Game vs CGY 10.16.21
Saturday was the continuation of the Battle of Alberta and it was epic. The first period felt like a playoff period. Intense, action-packed, filled with drama and urgency to get the upper hand. Edmonton got it and never gave it back to Calgary in a 5-2 victory that was a fresh reminder of why we love seeing one of the greatest rivalries in sport.
One of the great areas in Rogers Place is the Oilers Hall of Fame Room. It is overflowing with the history of the franchise. Old skates, helmets, stalls, jerseys and so much more are neatly placed together on display for people to see. It really is a showcase of the franchise's past. I wouldn't forget the five Stanley Cup replicas and team pictures that sit individually for each victory right in front of the windows.
The room is near the main entrance to the building and sits right along 104 Avenue and between 102 and 103 Street. From inside or outside, you can peer inside the room.
The scene on Saturday night was wonderful. First, there was what happened in the building as Captain Connor McDavid tallied a hat trick. Then, there was what happened outside the building. Fans could be heard blocks away chanting, screaming and supporting their team. It jumped up a level when the Oilers started their post-game interviews.
Video: CGY@EDM: McDavid records 10th career NHL hat trick
First up was Leon Draisaitl and Jesse Puljujarvi. While the players were answering questions the fans were chanting, "Jesse, Jesse, Jesse!" The Finnish forward smiled (he's always smiling) and acknowledged the fans for their support.
Next came McDavid and Warren Foegele. Along with " Stanley Cup" came a serenading "MVP, MVP, MVP" for McDavid. It was unreal and surreal all at the same time. Foegele, the new Oiler and former Carolina Hurricane, shook his head in disbelief and acknowledged the moment from where he sat.
The players missed the fans and the fans felt the same way about their hockey-playing heroes. It really was a nice reminder of what has not been possible in a normal sporting event scenario. In so many ways and for so many reasons, the Edmonton Oilers have already had a FAN-tastic start to their season.