Joni Mitchell’s “River” is a haunting, mournful song that deals with alienation, regret and missed opportunity.
Here we are…a few days before Christmas and this song could really be the anthem of the Edmonton Oilers.
I’ve long believed the Oilers have the most loyal fan base in the league, supporting the team through thin and thinner for the past 20 odd years and, while teams like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, appear to have a similar fan base…they really don’t. Their arenas are packed with corporate season ticket holders while, to a much larger degree, the Oilers fan base consists of individuals and families who have supported the team for many years.
I was one of them once…becoming a fan of the team when it entered the WHA and holding season tickets for many years and that love of the team has been passed down to my two sons who remain hopeful they will one day have a team they can feel good cheering about.
Devotion to the Oilers runs deep throughout my extended family too. My brother-in-law Pete passed away suddenly from a heart attack more than a year ago. This is a photo I took at his wake.
Kevin Lowe and his henchmen perhaps know how passionate the teams’ fans are but knowing it and appreciating it are entirely different things and I don’t think they appreciate it one little bit, instead seeing fans as wallets who pay for their continuing failures.
Lowe started to lose me when he got into that trade dispute with Mike Comrie over returning his bonus and it has been death by papercut ever since.
When he took his most popular player to the wall over $100,000 (remember Ryan Smyth offered to buy a suite for the $100,000 and Lowe rejected it), I was pretty much done. He has done nothing since to redeem himself in my eyes but I really don’t want to hash over another laundry list of his failures since that time.
What I want to impart is how sad I think it is that Lowe is presiding over an era in history of the team that is seeing it start to lose the hearts of its fan base.
Even the most optimistic of followers of the team have begun to abandon their ways and I can only speculate on why it took them so long but it is real and it’s growing.
There’s a pall cast over the team and a fresh, spring breeze is needed to blow the stench away.
If Kevin Lowe cares even one whit for the team and the city he needs to resign and take his entire regime with him.
If he won’t, Daryl Katz needs to help him with his decision.