For an Oiler fan in 2005, that’s what it felt like when the news came down that the lockout was over and the NHL got it’s salary cap. Salaries were now linked to revenues. This was massive for a team like the Oilers. NOW we’ll see what they can do with a level playing field (yes, that’s what we thought). But when free agency began, it started as a bit of a disappointment for me.
This was when it first hit me that Edmonton wasn’t a destination for anyone. I knew this prior. When I was doing my practicum at the TEAM 1260 in 2004, I went for pizza and beers after a show one night with Mark Spector and I asked Spec that night if guys liked playing in Edmonton or not. He basically said the the real family oriented guys did. But free agency opened, and I thought…still…they were going to scoop up some big time players. Nothing.
It would be a great trivia question, though I’m not 100% sure on this but I’m 99.99999% sure that Adam Foote was the first UFA to sign in the “new NHL”, going to Columbus. Peter Forsberg was 1 of 2 big fish (Scott Niedermayer the other), he signed in Philly. Sergei Gonchar went to Pittsburgh. Markus Naslund re-signed in Vancouver. Alex Kovalev re-signed in Montreal. And the Oilers just didn’t seem to be in on any of these players. It wasn’t just that a lot of guys signed elsewhere, but also that the Oilers just seemed nowhere to be found. It was Tuesday night, August 2nd. For whatever reason, I decided to be responsible for once and go to bed around 9:30-10 PM. Oops!
I’ll never forget where I was…mind you I remember a lot of pointless things, but I still recall exactly where I was, right around where Can-Do is now in Lloyd, we were building that area (get off my lawn). I just couldn’t believe what I heard. Well actually, I didn’t get what they were talking about at first. That’s a LATE move in the NHL. 10 MST is midnight in the East. So I was trying to listen to 1260, and it wasn’t coming in well, but I swore I heard them say Pronger’s name. My thought was “that’s dumb, the Blues aren’t moving him, they’ll deal Tkachuk and Weight”. But I kept hearing “Oilers” and I kept hearing “Pronger”. So I turned it to the GOAT for the now 8 AM news (before smart phones, facebook, twitter, why are you still on my lawn…) and sure as shit I heard it right!!!
Chris Pronger was my favourite player in the league not wearing Oiler silks. This was unbelievable and as I made reference to in the last paragraph, the Blues weren’t expected to move him. It was thought the move for them would be to offload Keith Tkachuk and/or Doug Weight because they were going to be WAY over the cap and had nothing in the system. Now my reaction to the deal when I heard all the details was “it’s a BIT steep, I wish Brewer could have been kept because he seemed to be coming on in 04, but they just got Chris Pronger!!!”
The others in the deal? Jeff Woywitka whom I had grown up playing against and at the time was a real nice piece that came over in the Mike Comrie deal (27th overall for the Flyers in 01), and Doug Lynch. Lynch was a 2nd round in 2001 and was a hot prospect for a while. I recall MANY comparing him to Jason Smith. As it turned out, he wasn’t even Geoff Smith.
But it’s unfair of my to give you my reaction to the trade, so I found something else. In doing a little research to get my dates right, I found a post that broke the trade on some website. The comments section was AWESOME that night:
That would be a totally stupid move Edmonton.
Never saw that coming, what a waste what a bad fit, do they even have a goalie… that just ruined prongers career, Lalime is probably crying right now. What a waste of an all star
They gave up way too much. 5 or 6 years down the road, St. Louis is going to have won this trade in a landslide.
All of these teams that have never had money are doing some big time stupid moves. It’s like the cash is just burning a hole in their pockets.
Look at all the guys signed… Colombus, Florida, Edmonton.
Not saying that I wouldn’t love a Pronger, but when the guy is getting max money and could be gone next year and you still have to sign a bunch of guys, it doesn’t look good
You can’t buy a team and expect instant chemistry. (Rangers).
Sure you may have only 4 guys signed but your whole team is new to eachother after a year off.
welcome to the new NHL
Damn. St. Louis won this one by a landslide.
Pronger will take alot of money.
Brewer Lynch and Woywitka will al substantially improve St. Louis’s blueline, and will make them strong for many years to come.
Looks like St. Louis will be winning another Presidents trophy 5 years down the road.
All they need to do now is bulk up their offense.
dont forget they have jackman and backman on defence and young schwarz in goal. they are deep on the backend
Yeah, I was thinking that, but forgot to mention it. St. Louis will be a serious cup contender in about 3 years. Scary.
These were all the initial reactions! All of them, just shitting all over the Oilers for doing the deal. I really don’t know which one is my favourite, all of them are just GOLD!!!
It was so awesome. Those morons had their heads planted firmly up their asses, but most people understood that this move made the Oilers contenders in the West, and they really didn’t give up anyone of serious value. Of course Kevin Lowe wasn’t done, as he went out and acquired Mike Peca from the Islanders, another one of Tyler Campbell’s favourite players outside of Edmonton. So now, even though the Oilers didn’t really improve their skill, they brought in 2 guys who only enhanced this already tremendous reputation of being a team that played an honest, hard working, gritty, 2 way game.
Things had actually changed. The dream had become a reality. August 10th, 1988 was the day the Oilers began selling. August 3rd, 2005 was the day it stopped. And for the first time since 1992 for Oiler fans, the Cup was no longer just a pipe dream. They had the makings of a team that could win it all.
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