Farewell to Northlands

The final game in Northlands Coliseum didn’t mean much in the big picture but it nonetheless brought a tear to my eye as so many family memories are wrapped up in the old barn.

Minnesota Wild vs Edmonton Oilers
EDMONTON, CANADA – MARCH 5: A general view of retired Edmonton Oilers players banners taken before the game against the Minnesota Wild on March 5, 2010 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

I was lucky (and old enough) to have lived through and witnessed all the glory years of the storied Oilers franchise starting with their entry into pro hockey beginning with their entry into the defunct World Hockey Association and, then, their move into the National Hockey League and into Northlands Coliseum.

The Pioneers

Not nearly enough attention has been given to the people who made NHL hockey in Edmonton possible…people like Bill Hunter and Dr. Charles Allard…and I guess that’s okay but we should all salute their vision and determination. Villains like Peter Pocklington and Glen Sather are not being given their due as an era in professional hockey comes to an end as the superstars they collected grab all the glory but, without them, there would be no legacy.


As a season ticket holder from the beginning, until the 2006/07 season, I am flooded with literally hundreds of memories written at the old barn but none is more vivid than May 19, 1984. It was my 34th birthday and old friend and prominent Edmonton lawyer Bob McBean and I were lucky enough to be seated 10 rows up from the ice surface to witness history. Many other memories would follow…Greztky’s 50 in 39…the Great One breaking Gordie Howe’s record with Howe seated in the row behind me and the run to five cups.

But most importantly, I have the memories of taking my sons, Robin and Taylor, to Oiler games and instilling a passion for the team that hasn’t faded despite the teams’ more than two decades of wandering in the wilderness.

The Rest

My sons’ fandom is unwavering but I lost the plot when Kevin Lowe, in a venal and small minded fashion, decided to turn the screws on an all-time face of the Oilers, Ryan Smyth. Lowe decided to play hardball with his best player after signing a number of palooka to ridiculous contracts and his track record since then has proven how pathetic his stewardship of the team was for more than a decade.

Too much has been written about Lowe’s failures to recount here but his continuing involvement in hockey operations is not something that anyone who cares about the team should cherish.

If the Oilers are serious about forging a new era in a new arena with all the bright young talent they have, they must send Lowe and his toadys packing. Until then, the odiferous era of incompetence and mismanagement will not be wiped clean




3 thoughts on “Farewell to Northlands

  1. That’s a good write up.

    One of my earliest memory’s was my grandfather taking me to see the Oilers, more specifically for me to transfix on Gretzky the whole time, a 7-5 win over the Pens.

    A fast forward a few seasons, I remember my dad got my best friend and I tickets right behind the goal…….Poor Mike Luit, we razzed him, and chirped him relentlessly, in the second he slammed his stick against the glass right beside us, of course the Oilers were lighting him up just as much as we were.

    I remember all the games, the cups, the players themselves, but what I remember the most were the people in the crowd, you really got to know the regulars in the crowd, real hard working blue collar people.

    My father stopped getting season tickets after Messier left, I was half way through university by then and couldn’t afford them.

    Now, the last 5 years I’ve split with said best friend from earlier and can’t wait for my new seats, I’m still around 900 on the list.

    I agree with almost every sentiment you wrote about except I’m happy the fans never booed Lowe, the fans mean the most, Lowe has it the other way around.

    Just my two cents.


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