(photo via @edmontonoilers)
Over 6 months.
4490 hours since the Oilers last regular season game. But those numbers hardly matter anymore because today is day 1.
Day 1 as they begin a new era in Rogers Place with a new captain who could become the league’s best player by years end.
Day 1 after an offseason that has polarized a fan base unlike any offseason I have ever seen with this team.
Day 1 of the post Taylor Hall era. The first time we’ll see a team officially rid of Nail Yakupov. Arguably, the first time we’ve ever seen this team ice a competent top pairing on defence thanks to Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom. They have a consistent respectable figure behind their bench for the first time in a long time. They have a goalie who has proven he can handle a large workload.
However, a negative vibe still surrounds this team, and for good reason. They still haven’t found a top-4 powerplay quarterback, they came into camp with a plethora of wing depth and essentially threw it away. They currently have 4 rookies on their opening night roster (Drake Caguilla is still injured) and management is getting a lot of heat for starting the year with so much in-experience.
They gave Milan Lucic insane term on his big free agent deal, signed Kris Russell to a $3 million contract, a move that made analytics believers scoff and mainstream hockey fans rejoice.
There was no shortage of controversy in Oil Country but I firmly believe I speak for the entire fanbase, and the whole NHL for that matter, when I say: Thank God that offseason is over.
The games finally count and all the offseason talk of in-experience and what the line combos will be and how certain trades will work out are now irrelevant because it’s actually happening.
Now we get to see if inexperience will kill the Oilers again, or if they will get breakout seasons from unexpected sources. Something they haven’t gotten in a long time.
The Oilers might crash and burn this year. They might be mediocre. They might shock the hockey world and do something they haven’t done in a decade. Who knows, but hell, that’s why they play the games.
But for tonight, let’s just all kick back and enjoy the beginning of a new era. Its hockey season baby, and thats never sounded so good.