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my fourth fave Oiler

Okay. Maybe I should be writing about something topical, like how much I'd like to have the current team draw lots to see which two I'd have shot by a firing squad, probably along with the head coach. 

But no. Instead I'll continue to wax positive, like Black Dog(name dropping) and all the other bloggers who jumped on my case prior to me even thinking about ever having a blog no doubt would prefer.

Besides, it's kind of nice writing about my favorite team, like I know what the fuck I'm even talking about. 

Mark Messier centered my favourite Oilers line. The second line. Messier and Anderson plus Simpson Klima or whoever played like the rest of the league, so I could relate to them better than Gretzky and his angels. I knew they weren't as good, but I like things that I understand. Killer line. 

I got to congratulate him a couple of days after the 1988 Canada Cup. Everyone had just seen that all time greatest shift ever played in hockey history, and it was still fresh and bloody. Messier played great also. In particular I recall him viciously elbowing a Russian behind their goal, and openly gloating about it as he skated off. The Russians all looked the same to me back then. I didn't know what to say to him I was so impressed, so I told him that I thought it had been a great series. He replied with  "Yeah, it was" and that was it. 

Mark Messier was the sole reason I decided to never play organised hockey again. When he was traded for the biggest palooka I've ever imagined compared to the moose, I decided I'd finally had enough of playing hockey. 

At the time I was 14, and had like many kids growing up in northern Canada I always played hockey every winter. In my case, ever since I was 5 years old. For the record I'm Scots Irish on one side, with a long history of half assed but never good enough to make it in the bigs players for 3 generations before me, like a great uncle who was supposed to have tried out for the Rangers in the 1930s or 1940s. In my family hockey playing history dates back to a picture of my great grandfather taken in 1899, aged 14 in one of those classic 3 guys facing off for the camera pics. 

I played left wing, was a natural skater thanks to my mom's side of the family having French ancestry, and an absolute goal suck. I thought defence was for idiots. Goalies were sub-humanoid creatures, barely even worth noticing. 

I knew I was never going to be a professional hockey player. I wasn't stupid like that. There was a kid playing for an opposition team in the league who would go on to play in the NHL, and I knew I wasn't a thousandth as talented as him. 

Anyway I'd accepted the Oilers losing the cup for 1991, but still believed in their ability to return as a champion. They still had the nucleus of a champ, I figured. Then Messier went to the Rangers, for a player who in any sane universe would never be even considered to be traded for a player who ends up number 12 on the all time list of hockey stars. 

It made me want to puke. Right there and then a revelation of future adult life came to me. A premonition of clarity that we all get at extreme moments in life. Unlike the Gretzky trade, when I was still really just a little kid, I was now older and getting more and more cynical by the day. I didn't know a lot about the outside world, but was at that stage in life when hormones start kicking in. Right then and there I knew...I just fucking knew that the Oilers were dead as a dynasty and forever gone as a credible franchise. I knew that from that point on, they might win a few more than they lost, but in the playoff wars they simply wouldn't have the horses. In trading Messier at a stroke the Oilers became the LA Kings of the north.

I told everyone who would listen that I never wanted to play organised hockey again. And I never did. What had taken place was, I'd just made my first executive decision. 

3 comments:

Kris said...

Moose at #4? Hard to believe he's not top 3.

Hunter, could #5 be somebody he played post 1991-- it was damn near 20 years ago you realize :)

hunter1909 said...

I liked Messier but simply preferred Anderson, Coffey, and you know who more.

As an adult I would have to rate Messier number 2, but as a kid it seemed different. And I'm kind of dredging up my ancient opinions here.

I'm just trying to tell it the way it was to me at the time. As if I am a grandfather telling grandson legends of the long ago past. To my crazy irish self. It's all got to go through my all time brain, and let's face it, some of the dynasty scrubs would star on the modern version of the team.

Post 1991 will have to wait awhile yet. :)

hunter1909 said...

LOL It also helps me not chew the carpet thinking about the current "team".

Like therapy. Cheaper than liquor, too.

:P