It was an interesting week in Oil Country this week. In case you missed it, Gilbert Brule while in Vancouver picked up a hitchhiker. The funny thing is of course that this was no ordinary hitchhiker, this was U2's front man Bono and his assistant who got caught in the rain. Brule and his girlfriend sold their game one Stanley Cup finals tickets to return to Edmonton to be Bono's guests backstage. Bono told the story on stage at the concert at Commonwealth stadium Wednesday night, and it was instantly the talk of the internet and twitter. There are of course some people saying that they just don't buy the story. Isn't it just crazy enough to be true though?
Steve MacIntyre and Ryan Jones were bear hunting in Alberta this week. Jones and MacIntyre each tweeted photos and look to have had a good time. The two are out at bear camp with a television crew from Wild TV and will be moving on to Saskatchewan next.
Of course speaking of Ryan Jones, Jones signed with the Oilers on Sunday, much to the delight and frustration of many Oilers fans. Anyone who reads this site from time to time knows that I think that the signing is excellent. I think because so many seem to think the signing is a huge overpayment I want to say that it is not an overpayment. Sometimes a girl just wants to stand out right? Jones signed for 2 years at $1.5 million per year after scoring 18 goals last season and putting up a shooting percentage of 14%.
The NHL entry draft combine is this weekend. The Edmonton Oilers webpage has interviews with 30 prospects. The Oilers amateur scouts are in attendance and are hoping to make their selection based off of some of the physical and interview results obtained. The impression from the Oil Change series is that the combine is what really secured Taylor Hall as the first overall player in the Oilers eyes.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins interviewed with the Oilers and discussed his weight gain since the end of the season. Hopkins is now listed at 6' and 177 pounds. Hopkins wants to go at number one, which should not come as a surprise to anyone. From my interview and assessment, Hopkins has a good frame, a solid base from which to build on. He has the potential to bulk up as he grows, and a 13 pound weight gain in a short time should also lend some credibility to that assessment.
Edmonton Oil Kings captain, Mark Pysyk was a draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, and has signed an entry level contract with the team this week. Pysyk was selected 23rd overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft. The Oil Kings made it into the WHL playoffs, but lost out in the first round to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the Red Deer Rebels.
In other Oil Kings news, former Chilliwack Bruins president has signed on as the Oil Kings Vice President. Of course the Chilliwack Bruins are moving to Victoria for the 2011-2012 season. Porter is a native Edmontonian and has an extensive history working in the hockey industry. Porter is a welcome addition to the Oil Kings family.
Brandon Davidson was featured on the Oklahoma City Barons webpage this week. In the opening paragraph, we learn that Davidson grew up loving the Oilers, and idolizing Wayne Gretzky. What's not to love about the kid right?
In NHL news, the Stanley Cup finals continue and the debate rage on whether the Canucks are Canada's team or not. The Canucks have taken game one by a score of 1-0. Game two is also in Vancouver, tonight at 6pm, MST. Games 3 and 4 will be in Boston later this week, returning to Vancouver if necessary.
The biggest news of the week, NHL or not was of course the NHL's potential return to Winnipeg. True North has bought the Atlanta Thrashers, pending approval by the NHL owners later in June. Gary Bettman continued to be booed by average Canadians and upset many fans by saying that Winnipeg must sell 13, 000 season tickets before the meeting. This story is not over yet, but things are looking good if you wanted to see a seventh Canadian NHL team.
No, there has been no interest expressed yet in acquiring Nikolai Khabibulin out of a sense of nostalgia. It also seems as though the team will not be called the Winnipeg Jets. This seems extremely wrong on a number of levels. I can see how True North would want to call the team something else, but the NHL team in Winnipeg is the Jets. That is how we will remember and think about it. We may get used to another name, but in the back of our minds it will be the Jets. If the Oilers had left and were returning this year, or if Thrashers were coming to Edmonton, I highly doubt Oilers fans would let the team be called anything else. True, fans just don`t have the same pull and say that we think we should.