Welcome to the refreshed Copper & Blue! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
For me the story starts out as many, perhaps even most do, I lived in Edmonton and my parents cheered for the team. I wasn’t actually born in Edmonton - Calgary, actually *spits* - but we moved to Edmonton when I was one, and my parents had season tickets for a number of years in the early 80’s, a time during which, as I’ve been told, that the Oilers were a fairly good hockey team. That experience cemented the two of them as Oilers fans and started my journey down the same path.
We wouldn’t stay in Edmonton though, there would be stops in Vancouver, where I would actually go to my first NHL game, and then back to Calgary *spits* before we returned to Edmonton in the early 1990’s. But even living in cities where being a fan of the Oilers would be, at best, considered unpopular, my family and I never cheered for anyone else. It was the Oilers and only the Oilers, that’s just how things were. One of my clearest childhood memories centres around Wayne Gretzky’s overtime winner in Game 2 of the 1988 Smythe Division Final and the joy my dad got out of that. Even now I smile thinking about it, I’m sure his reaction would be much the same. And so I took a few more steps down the path towards being a lifelong Oilers fan.
While I feel like I’ve always been a fan, there were years when I paid less attention than I could have. For example, while I was in high school and the Oilers weren’t a particularly good team, I found a couple other things that piqued my interests (I’m sure you can guess). But even then, every year I’d still manage to get to a few games and if there was a game on TV I watched it. I can’t tell you why, it’s just what I did. At least until the spring of 1997, that’s when everything changed and I went from a fan of the Oilers to a fan of the Oilers.
I turned 18 in April of 1997, the Oilers made the playoff for the first time a few years in April of 1997, and I was hooked. This was when I went to my first playoff game. This was my first time experiencing how the successes of this team could impact the mood of an entire city. This was my first opportunity to truly experience the playoffs, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I better understood what had had drawn my parents in a decade and a half earlier. Where I might have been a casual fan before, I was all-in now. Seven games in the first round and Todd Marchant’s overtime winner, followed by five in the second round before falling to the Avalanche, I couldn’t get enough of it.
By the time I started dating my future wife I was the guy who thought that hockey tickets were a reasonable Valentine’s Day gift for someone who didn’t watch a lot of hockey growing up. Honestly, I feel like I deserve credit for remembering Valentines Day. Luckily for me she turned out to be a fan as well, if that hadn’t been the case then adjusting a trip to Mexico for our wedding so that I wouldn’t miss Mark Messier’s jersey retirement might have been a real issue. But she understood it, she embraced it, and she encouraged it, which ended up landing me here talking to you.
I won’t lie, there have been a lot of tough years for Oilers fans lately. For better or worse, I tuned in for all of it. If you didn’t, if you found entertainment elsewhere, that’s fine too because being a fan isn’t supposed to be competition of who’s endure the most. This spring we were once again treated to the joy of playoff hockey. It ended too soon but it once again transformed a city. It reminded me of 1997. It reminded me of 1988. And it reminded me why I’m a fan.
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