I did it! Aren’t you all pumped for me?! Sunday morning came, and I said nothing. Monday morning came, and I still said nothing. Tuesday morning came, just in case maybe you thought I was having problems with my website, and STILL I said nothing! Yes it’s true, I said nothing about Saturday night’s abomination. Why bother? I’m of the strong belief this team is getting overhauled this offseason, that was the final nail in the coffin for a lot of these guys in Edmonton. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass…a F*** I’m talking about it!!!
Well as you all know, tonight is the last night for Rexall Place. I grew up going to the rink. Much like the Marwayne arena, the Lloydminster Civic Centre, the Dewberry arena, and the Paradise Valley arena, Northlands/the Coliseum/Skyreach/Rexall really is a massive part of my hockey life. So needless to say I have a TON of memories from the old barn as we are about to witness the final NHL game in it.
I’ll start with the games I’ve been to. I BELIEVE I can remember every game I ever went to, despite some years going to over 20 games a year. There was 1 team I never saw live and that was the New Jersey Devils. For some reason I never had an urge to go see the Devils play….
In fairness, one of the best regular season games ever played in Rexall was on St. Patrick’s Day 2001 and saw the Oilers on their 10 game unbeaten streak, points in 11 straight vs the Devils on a 9 game winning streak. The defending champs came back to beat the Oilers 6-5 in OT.
But back to me and what I saw go down.
Originally I had the idea of telling a little something about each game I saw, because I do remember a little bit from all of them. I have an insanely good memory. But then I totalled it all up and figured out I had been to at least 115 of these things, and you have a life that I’m certain you want to get back to at some point today. But I’m going to tell some tales. Not all of them from section 122, row 8, seat 7 or 8 (mostly 8 because it had a little more room since it was on a bit of a corner), but a hell of a lot of them were from that view.
Feb. 17, 1989 vs Washington. This was the first game for me. Oilers lost 8-2, my mom was scared shitless that I was going to make an ass of myself. Esa Tikkanen scored 2 goals to cut the 7-0 lead to 7-2 in the 3rd, but that was where the comeback bid ended. An embarrassing blowout loss and Kevin Lowe was horrible (-5), this game was god showing me the movie trailer for my adult life.
Apr. 6, 1990 vs Winnipeg. Otherwise known as game 2 of the Smythe semi-final. Mark Lamb sniped the winner in OT after the Oilers came back from a 2-0 deficit in the 3rd to even the series at 1 with a 3-2 win. 6 year old me nearly got kicked out for dropping the Punkies that I didn’t want on people (our seats were first row of the 2nd deck at the time). Some elderly couple ratted me out, I was certain I was done for, but I played it real cool and the ushers could never figure out that the Punkies were dropped by the only 6 year old in the front row.
Apr. 14, 1991 vs Calgary. Game 6 of the Smythe semi-final in one of the best series in NHL history…although what is never remembered is that this was far and away the worst game of the series. If you’re an Oilers or Flames fan, I don’t THINK I need to tell you who got the winner in the 2-1 OT win for the Flames. Me though, I got a new pack of hockey cards, was pretty pumped about that. I loved that playoff run for some reason, maybe because it was the last for that core. The theme was “route 6”, and if I recall right they came out to “Let it Roll” by BTO and also used that as their goal song.
May 10, 1991 vs Minnesota. This is the North Stars, not the Wild for all you kids out there (man I’m so old). Game 5 of the Campbell Conference final, and the Oilers fall 3-2 and are eliminated. They lose to the lowly North Stars after bouncing league powers Calgary and L.A. This was really the final game for the 80’s core. Mess, Fuhr, Huddy, and Steve Smith all played their final game with the club that night and Anderson was moved in the Fuhr trade too, although he did comeback for a 17 game stint in 96.
Apr. 8, 1994 vs Anaheim. 3-1 loss for the Oil on this night. There was nothing significant about this game, but I got in a scrap with “Critter” the CFCW mascot.
Feb. 25, 1998 vs Ottawa. Oilers win 5-2 in the first game back from the 1998 Olympic break. I was to go downstairs with Gord and Pat Redden to say hi to Wade in the little greeting area they used to setup between the visiting team’s bus and dressing room. So by accident my buddy Harvz and I wondered downstairs after the game thinking we were to meet them down there and figured out we could simply wait around and get the Oilers players autographs. Wade eventually came and found us. Wade Redden, good guy.
Apr. 28, 1998 vs Colorado, game 4 West Quarter final, 3-1 loss. Cujo was awful on the GWG, why the hell didn’t Slats move that guy?!
May 2, 1998 vs Colorado, game 6 West Quarter final, 2-0 win. Slats is a genius for keeping Cujo! Boris Mironov scoring to make it 2-0 in the middle of the 3rd, that moment gets underrated as one of the loudest moments in the buildings history.
Dec. 4, 1998 vs Tampa Bay, 2-1 loss. I was not a paying customer for this game, I was there as a member of the media…kind of. I got to job shadow Rod Phillips for the day. Massive deal to me, Rod was one of my idol’s growing up. Got to attend practice with him, go in the room and meet a lot of the team following practice, everything went AWESOME…until the game. 2-1 loss to the worst team in the NHL. Everyone was PISSED after the game. I was pretty damn uncomfortable going into the dressing room after the game. I’ve never seen a person vacuum with the rage that Joey Moss was that night.
Mar. 26, 1999 vs St. Louis, 2-1 win. The game isn’t too memorable, but some guy pulled out in front of my dad while driving to the game, and Bruce likely wasn’t in a good mood to begin with because he had to drive yet not go to the game because my mom wanted to come with me. Anyhow, the guy pulled out making Brucie hit the brakes. I’ve never heard someone say “you asshole” and proceed to flip off a guy with such distain.
Apr. 18, 1999 vs WWF…ok so there was no game this day but my buddy Lowrie and I went to see wrestling. Stone Cold, the Rock, it was awesome. And hey, it was in the building! Wasn’t just hockey there, I went to the CFR and a Kayne/Rihanna concert there too just so you know!
Apr. 25, 1999 vs Dallas, game 3 West Quarter Final, 3-2 loss. 3 goals called back, 2 because of the foot/toe/toenail/some form of DNA in the crease rule. The other was a completely BS call on Pat Falloon when Ed Belfour wondered 10 feet outside his crease to play a puck.
Apr. 27, 1999 vs Dallas, game 4 West Quarter Final, 3-2 loss. Gretz was in the building, fresh off retiring. Much like the Mironov goal the year before, this is an underrated moment in the history of the building. Heartbreak though as the Oil would lose in triple OT, the longest game ever played at Rexall.
Oct. 1, 1999 vs NY Rangers, 1-1 tie. This was the night Gretz’s number went up to the rafters. This was one of the highlights for me without a doubt. This was “our guy” coming home. I don’t remember watching too many games Gretz played as an Oiler, but I vividly remember all the different times I balled my eyes out in August of 1988 because he was gone.
Dec. 19, 1999 vs Ottawa, 3-3 tie. Like a year earlier, I did not use a ticket to go to this one. This time, Gord and Wade Redden set it up for me to job shadow Dean Brown and Gord Wilson on the Senators broadcast. I met Mike Fisher that night. So my hand shook his hand and his hand has been on Carrie Underwood A LOT….so it’s BASICALLY like I get to touch Carrie Underwood all the time.
Jan. 14, 2000 vs Toronto, 3-2 loss. I got on the big screen that night. Well, the people behind me did, and I was that d-bag who maneuvers to get in the shot. How do people live with no regrets?! I have MANY, and that is definitely one of them.
Apr. 16, 2000 vs Dallas, game 3 West Quarter Final, 5-2 win. Dougie Weight’s finest hour as an Oiler. Got a hatty, and the Oilers completely dominated the Stars…for once.
Apr. 18, 2000 vs Dallas, game 4 West Quarter Final, 4-3 loss. Bill Guerin’s finest hour as an Oiler. Got a hatty, and the Oilers completely…blew it.
Mar. 30, 2001 vs Dallas, 5-4 loss. I sat in Bill Comrie’s luxury suite for most of this game. Didn’t say a word, scared too. Just watched this 5 year old blonde kid run around with a mini stick and thought “this kid will never be a Winnipeg Jets goaltending prospect”. Real random I know.
Apr. 21, 2001 vs Dallas, game 6 West Quarter Final, 3-1 loss. I came back from a school trip to Spain thinking “no way this series doesn’t go 7, everyone has been talking about how great it’s been, Oilers have controlled it a lot of the time, no way they don’t win”.
Jan. 19, 2002 vs Pittsburgh, 1-0 loss. The only time I ever got to see Mario play live.
Mar. 30, 2002 vs Dallas, 3-1 win. Comrie scores with a minute left and a LOOOONG video review to break a 1-1 tie. I meet Greg Millen and Chris Cuthbert after the game. Cuthbert was total class, Millen was a dick…just like the other 2 times I met him.
Oct. 10, 2002 vs Philadelphia, 2-2 tie. They were really pushing Mike Comrie as the face of the franchise at this point and doing this “it’s magic” theme for opening night and they did a bunch of magic tricks throughout the night. I hope whoever came up with that got fired.
Dec. 3, 2002 vs Minnesota, 2-1 OT win. First night I ever met my good friend Peter Loubardias. Hit it off, he came and sat with me for the game which was not the plan. Peter is having some issues at the moment so I figured I’d take this time to publically wish him the best and hope he’s 100% real soon. Anyone in sports media who knows him will tell you he’s one of the best people in the business.
Apr. 13, 2003 vs Dallas, 3-2 win. Again, underrated for being amongst the loudest that Rexall has ever been. That 3rd period was incredible, at least for the dead puck era it was. The Stars just didn’t blow leads, and in this one they blew two of them before Radek Dvorak scored the goal of the year.
Feb. 11, 2004 vs Atlanta, 5-1 win. So this was the infamous line brawl game. It was also infamous for me as I told my roommate at the time that I had to go to the game with a relative, yet I was actually going to the game with my buddy whom he didn’t like. Of course the Sportsnet camera’s had to show all the celeb’s in the crowd…
Mar. 2, 2004 vs Phoenix, 5-4 win. Mike Comrie’s 1st game back in town since the falling out with the organization. How DARE Comrie question Kevin Lowe and the way he ran this organization!!!
Apr. 25, 2006 vs Detroit, game 3 West Quarter Final, 4-3 win. Double OT, the first playoff game in the building since 03. I remember thinking at the time “man, I can’t imagine having to go through another 3 year dry spell from the playoffs”.
May 23, 2006 vs Anaheim, game 3 Western Conference Final, 5-4 win. This was the first game Paul Lorieau dropped the mic for lack of a better term. The craziest 3rd period I’ve ever seen. When Pronger scored to make it 4-0 early in the 3rd, THAT is my bet on the loudest the building ever was. It got very hot in the stands, because for about 20 minutes of real time (5 minutes of game time) the fans were going insane.
Jun. 17, 2006 vs Carolina, game 6 Stanley Cup Final, 4-0 win. Best game I ever saw any Oilers team play. Total domination, the building was loving life all night long. It was just a party from early that afternoon until late that night. I don’t think anyone felt like the Oilers may lose the game at any point. And I’ve told this story on here before, but I remember shaking hands with all the people who also had season tickets around us. Like we were all congratulating each other. Trust me that NEVER happened in the 19 other years we had season tickets!
Nov. 28, 2006 vs Anaheim, 3-2 OT loss. Pronger’s return. Going in, the Oilers were leading the Northwest, the Ducks were leading the Pacific, I remember thinking going in that night that the Pronger story overshadowed that this was a Western Conference finals rematch and 2 of the top teams in the West. But the Oil blew a 2-0 lead and this seemed to send the team into a tailspin they wouldn’t pull out of no matter how hard Patrik Stefan didn’t try.
Now those are some of my favourite memories with me in attendance. But very obviously there are so many more that are so much bigger for Oiler fans. The 4 Stanley Cups won on that ice, 50 in 39, Gretzky returning for the first time, Gretzky returning for the 89 All-Star game, Gretzky breaking Gordie Howe’s points record, the comeback against Dallas, the Gagner 8 point game, like there are just so damn many!
The truth of all of this is that nobody is really going to miss the building. The move from this building is overdue. But there have been an insane amount of famous moments that happened in that building that deserve to be celebrated. And man…is it going to be one heck of a celebration tonight!
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