In the not so distant future, on a cool October eve the doors will open to the finely renovated Cox Center in Bricktown. The popcorn will be flowing, the slices of pizza greasier than ever. Two teams will take to the ice, we'll hear an anthem sung, maybe two, and hockey will begin again in Oklahoma City. Let me be the voice of thousands of hockey fans in OKC when I say, "It's about time!" As we inch closer to opening night, I'll do my best to keep you informed on the happenings of the Oklahoma City Barons nearly 3,000 km from the "Mother Ship" in Edmonton (note: I've already converted to kilometers instead of miles. I was born to be Canadian).
I'll CBC You In October
Last week the CBC announced a one year broadcast agreement with the AHL that will feature primarily Canadian teams. Let's pretend to ignore that 7 of the 10 games will feature the Marlies, that's for a different post. Instead let's focus on the unintentional airing of a Barons game vs. the Hamilton Bulldogs on October 24th. What might seem like unimportant news to most, to the Oklahoma City hockey fan who hasn't seen a local televised hockey game in well over five years, this is fantastic. Sure I might have to reconfigure the satellite dish on the top of my house to get the CBC this far south, but knowing that this team, in its first year of existence, is getting television exposure can never be a bad thing. And if the satellite were to fall off the house during reconfiguration I could always visit the "A's" streaming content online. Win, win.
I finally understand what George Straight meant when he sang the lyrics, "Only heaven knows where I'd be if it wasn't for Texas". In a strange twist of fate, if it weren't for Texas, the Texas Stars to be exact, there wouldn't be a preseason game for the Barons. Indeed the Texas Stars tinkered with their preseason schedule and invited the Barons down south for a good 'ole meet and greet on October 2nd. I like this move for both teams mainly because it screams of rivalry. Those familiar with the Red River Rivalry between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas will understand the automatic, almost built-in nature of an Oklahoma/Texas barn-burner. If there's one thing that I've learned over the years about hockey fans, it's that they love to hate - other teams, other players, other coaches, it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that the success of last year's Texas Stars, their proximity to the OKC Barons, the promise of at least ten games this season, and the natural unease of the sports history between the two states will make for exciting hockey.
Been There. Done That. Got The T-Shirt.
Barons merchandise is popping up everywhere. Hats, tees, pucks, stickers, and more can be spotted not only online, but in your local hockey rink and in the new Bricktown Red Dirt Emporium. Although jerseys aren't completely ready, they are promised soon according to Barons' staff. I have seen several people out and about with Barons' hats on, so I know the product is getting to the people.
Save The Date
This afternoon the AHL will introduce the full 2010-11 schedule unless those pesky Board of Governors sleep the day away or the PR Department struggles converting to PDF. Either way a full schedule means finally releasing single game tickets and the world at large can begin planning their trip to the Cox Center for game night. More details to come as they arrive.