Edmonton Oiler hockey fans are losing patience with a losing team and have begun to branch out to other more competitive teams or leagues to follow to quench the thirst for meaningful hockey.
The WJC will undoubtedly draw all Canadian hockey fans this holiday season, both in the east live and everywhere else on TV, but after that tournament ends will Oiler fans return to watching painful, losing, noncompetitive hockey?
There are many options for the distressed hockey fan in Alberta, the NHL teams are not the only show in town.
Major junior teams in RedDeer, Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat, and Saskatchewan, not to mention all the great AJHL hockey in small communities throughout the province have been and will continue to reap the rewards of fans migration from the sub par NHL teams in Calgary and Edmonton.
Before I’m set straight, I will clarify, the Calgary Flames are doing better than expected this season and are playing competitive, exciting hockey. Although, they may fall off before seasons end, they are not losing fans this season to lack of interest like the Edmonton Oilers. They are not selling out their building however, and the market seems flooded with junior teams, each taking a piece of the pie. A total of 3 junior teams, 2 college teams, 1 university squad and the Flames all share Calgary’s hockey market, making the big money NHL club seem less enticing value wise.
The Edmonton Oilers are in a tough place with fans of the game, their lack of success is one thing but their failure to captivate by showing the required effort, toughness, push back or just plain competitive drive that keeps fans coming back is something fans cannot respect or forgive. This gives way to apathy, which is a franchise killer for most sports teams, especially south of the border. Now, here in Canada this is not the case, but it can lead to dismal attendance, lower merchandise sales and a generational gap in the fan base.
This last digression is already happening in the Edmonton region, kids do not want to follow or be associated with losers.
Kids as young as 5 know the Oilers stink and have stunk for a long time, they don’t want to cheer for losers, they want heroes and supermen to give them hope. The Edmotnon Oilers have had none in many years, a 7-8 year old child, who is getting into hockey and looking for pros to cheer on or emulate doesn’t have a local playoff hero in their lifetime to support.
Kids are looking to other teams in American markets such as the Red Wings, Bruins, Kings, Blackhawks, Penguins or even Tampa Bay. As well as other Canadian teams, the Canucks, Canadiens or (heaven help them) the Flames, because they have never seen any Oiler win anything in their lives. Following mom or dad into the painful sea of Oiler fandom doesn’t seem very appealing to them and kids make their own choices now more than ever.
The Edmonton Oilers are losing an entire generation of kids as fans, that is the real tragedy in all of their recent failures.
Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry, Andrew Ference
These players have to realize that they are not playing the game for themselves, the adult paying fans, Mr.Katz, Mr. MacTavish or the crest on the front of the jersey.
They should be playing for these kids:
The next generation of hockey fans in Oil Country !!!!!
Yet, these players seem to ignore this or are blissfully unaware that the very reason they are in the NHL now is because someone inspired them to play the game, love the game and cheer for their heroes.
Unless this team, it’s players and the management come to the realization that it’s not about them and their whining or their selfish garbage or their egotism (I’m looking at you MacT), then maybe they can get back to winning hockey games with heart.