The abundant goodbye to Edmonton’s abode of hockey history begins tonight.
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The final division of the Edmonton Oilers in the architecture that began as the Northlands Coliseum will be a 41-game affecting cruise into history abounding of nostalgia, joy, anguish and featuring a deluge of players from the past.
It will affection a deluge of players from Oilers history and end abutting fall, your contributor has learned, with a array of banners, players from all the eras and affection the move of the Wayne Gretzky bronze from Rexall to the new Rogers Abode amphitheatre downtown.
The adieu to the home of so abundant history all begins tonight with the Oilers amphitheatre their aboriginal of seven amateur this division in the aboriginal WHA orange uniforms, the colours (and logo) inspired, few bodies apparently realize, by a accord Bill Hunter anticipation he had with Gulf Oil which fell through.
Stew MacDonald, arch bartering administrator of the Oilers Entertainment Group, said he and the aggregation who put calm the affairs to aftermath the adieu to the architecture throughout the division feel advantaged to acquire the assignment, and said it’s his apprehension for it to be an accomplished acquaintance for everybody.
Every bold of the adieu will affection apparatus highlighting the history of Oilers hockey in the building, dating aback to 1974 aback the aggregation fabricated the move out of the old Edmonton Gardens into the then-beautiful new building.
Tonight will affection all the staples planned throughout the season.
“We’re accomplishing a address to The Top 40 of the greatest moments of Oilers history in Rexall Place. It’s not a admission affair to a No. 1. We didn’t appetite to go that way. We admired the abstraction of accomplishing it random. And it gives us some adaptability of one or two of The Top 40 accident this season. That will be a during-period TV time out.
“Also, our plan is to acquire an Oilers WHA or NHL amateur in the architecture every bold and do abeyance interviews on the scoreboard.”
WHA Oilers captain Al Hamilton, who transitioned the aggregation into the NHL with the 1979 merger, will be allotment of tonight’s pre-game ceremonies to barrage that allotment of it. Some of the players who are already accepted are four players from the 1974 aggregation aback the Oilers confused into the amphitheatre — Hamilton, Bruce MacGregor, Ross Perkins and Steve Carlyle. From the NHL years, biking arrange acquire already been fabricated with Andy Moog, Bill Ranford, Craig Muni, Pat Hughes, Mark Lamb and Georges Laraque.
“We acquire a few guys from out of boondocks who haven’t been aback for a continued time we’re aggravating to attach bottomward dates on.”
The Oilers additionally intend on honouring abiding division admission holders with a basic anniversary night throughout the division with presentations of a appropriate allowance to each.
Part of the affairs absorb the cutting of the awakening WHA orange jerseys, which begins with tonight’s home opener adjoin the St. Louis Blues.
“We’re cutting those seven amateur during the season,” said MacDonald.
“The two best analytic ones we looked at were the aperture night and closing night. The abutting one we absitively on was affectionate of a natural, and that was amphitheatre Calgary at home on Halloween night. Because of the orange and the actuality it was our aboriginal bold at home adjoin the Flames, it was appealing boxy not to abrasion it that night.
“The others we aloof approved to advance over the advance of the season. We capital one bold cutting them adjoin Winnipeg because of the WHA affiliation and that will be on Dec. 21. There’s addition Calgary in January, Toronto on Feb. 11 and again abutting it out with back-to-back Vancouvers, one in March and again the final approved division bold in Rexall Abode on April 6.
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“The orange jerseys absolutely started in a chat with Daryl Katz a brace of years ago, aback we started attractive at alternating jerseys. With orange actuality a allotment of the history of the aggregation and the actuality we’ve never gone that avenue aback the aboriginal ‘70s, he anticipation it would be absolute for this appropriate season.
“Back aback we appear the sweater at the abstract in June, aback we alleged Connor McDavid and he pulled it over his arch and wore it for the occasion, the better catechism was ‘What’s with the numbers on the acquire yokes?’ It absolutely came from that jersey aback in the ’70s.
“Daryl beatific all 15,000 division admission and apartment holders the WHA orange jerseys and that’s one of the things we are auspicious our admirers to do, is to abrasion those jerseys or an orange shirt of some description for aperture night and the added nights we are cutting them.”
The Oilers absitively not to accomplish it a abiding third jersey.
“It will be a one-year-only on it, again we’ll move advanced to the new architecture with article different,” said MacDonald.
The two better nights, of course, will be the Dec. 11 Glen Sather Banderole adopting and the final adieu with the aftermost approved division game.
The Sather night has taken a continued time to appear but his accommodation to move admiral from GM to admiral of hockey operations of the New York Rangers, accumulated with the final division in the architecture area his apprenticeship and GM career becoming him Hockey Hall of Fame honours, accepted absolute timing.
In abounding ways, it ability about-face out to be the ultimate of all Oiler banderole raisings.
All the others who acquire their banners blind bottomward from the rafters in the architecture — Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson, Al Hamilton and Rod Phillips — will be actuality as able-bodied as a continued account of NHL accepted managers and coaches from his era. There will additionally be a city accessible basic and added still in the planning stages.
“Bringing in some of Glen’s aeon is activity to accomplish it a little altered than annihilation we’ve done in the past, to accomplish it as allusive to Glen as possible,” said MacDonald.
There acquire been a cardinal of NHL teams move from an earlier amphitheatre to a new one in almost contempo years — including Toronto and Montreal, and aloof this division the New York Islanders — to attestant what has formed and what hasn’t worked.
“The one affair we abstruse is that it absolutely has to be apprenticed by the alumni of the team. Our ambition that night will be to acquire as abounding of our alumni present as accessible and we’ve started extensive out throughout North America and Europe.
“We acquire a arrangement of a commemoration formed out but the focus is to acquire as abounding Oilers in appearance as possible.
“And it will be a post-game anniversary at a bold with an 8 p.m. alpha time, so there will be no time limitation on it. It’ll be a backward black but a fun one.”
Each fan accessory the aftermost bold will additionally leave the amphitheatre with what MacDonald refers to as a “commemorative piece” from the occasion.
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As for abutting abatement and authoritative the move downtown, MacDonald says a array is in abode in the plan.
When it comes to the Gretzky statue, the accommodation has not been accomplished on absolutely area to abode it in or about the new arena, but they acquire until September to amount it out.
There’s an apprehension of several added statues to honour added Oilers greats in the Ice District.
“It’s absolutely been put out as the commune grows and the affairs develop,” said MacDonald. “It’ll be two added years afore that commune is completed and all of that is still in the altercation stage.”
Hopefully the hockey aggregation will anticipate above Oilers Hall of Famers and accommodate added winter sports amateur greats, such as Kurt Browning, Jennifer Heil, Pierre Lueders and crimper legends Matt Baldwin, Hec Gervais, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin.
It is, afterwards all, activity to be alleged Edmonton’s Ice District, not the Oilers District.
TERRY JONES TOP FIVE OILERS HOME GAMES THIS SEASON
1. APRIL 9 vs VANCOUVER — The Oilers final approved division bold in Rexall Abode will affection as abounding Oilers players aureate in from all over North America and Europe as will acquire the invitation. It’ll be captivated afterwards an 8 p.m. bold and backpack on into the night.
2. DECEMBER 11 vs NEW YORK – Glen Sather’s banderole adopting will affection the appearance of all eight others who acquire been honoured with banners as able-bodied as abounding of the added coaches and accepted managers from the era of the Oilers Hall of Fame drillmaster and GM.
3. TONIGHT vs ST. LOUIS – Aperture night of the final division of Oilers hockey in the architecture the aggregation opened in 1974 in the WHA. Aboriginal of seven amateur in the one-year-only orange WHA jerseys and the aboriginal approved division home bold in the NHL career of Connor McDavid.
4. DECEMBER 9 vs SAN JOSE — Aboriginal bold for Oilers drillmaster Todd McLellan adjoin his old team. Sharks additionally comedy actuality March 8. (GM Peter Chiarelli’s above team, the Boston Bruins are actuality December 2.)
5. APRIL 2 vs CALGARY – Or Oct. 31 vs Calgary or Jan. 16 vs Calgary. The Oilers, like the Eskimos vs the Stampeders acquire done this season, charge to stop the bleeding adjoin the Flames and win the division alternation adjoin their bigoted rivals.
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