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MILLIONS: The age of the Oilers is about to dawn

Roger Millions writes the Oilers may have just have it takes to go all the way.

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At first glance at the Edmonton Oilers training camp roster, you simply have to wonder out loud; ‘isn’t it time?’

They have the most dynamic and gifted player in the game. They have perhaps the second as well. A winning season and a playoff spot has to be inevitable. 

Throw in year-two under the watchful eyes of GM Ken Holland and Head Coach Dave Tippett and the post season should be very much a reality. I have all the time in the world for the classy Holland and Tippett. They are solid individuals with outstanding pedigrees. The second season these two will be in charge will vault the Oilers into more than just contention.

It doesn’t hurt to have Connor McDavid. One veteran NHL defenceman I know well described McDavid with the puck as “frightening”. That coming from a former award winner himself. Toss the gaudy statistics aside and concentrate on what McDavid brings to the table, and it’s clear he’s ready to not only dazzle but to win. The million-dollar question remains: does he have the supporting cast to get the job done. For the most part, I believe he does.

Leon Draisaitl took the strange COVID-19 plagued season by storm a year ago and not only won the scoring title in the regular season, but the Hart Trophy as Most Valuable Player and the Ted Lindsay award as well. If those credentials don’t vault you to the next level in hockey what will? 

Throw in free agent Kyle Turris for depth. The reliable and gifted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as very good two-way centre. The youthful Kailer Yamamoto seems ready to blossom as the Oilers have an offensive bag of riches that most teams would drool over.

Sprinkle it Zach Kassian and Jujhar Khaira for size and sandpaper, and I don’t know what more a team could want up front.

The worry remains how the Oilers’ backend will stand up. 

Goaltending may be the lone question mark. The experience of 32-year-old Mikko Koskinen and 38-year-old Mike Smith showed flashes of brilliance a year ago. They also showed a propensity for some below average net minding. Somehow, the 56-game shortened regular season will help Koskinen and Smith out. The reduced travel time for these elder statesmen can’t hurt either. Many experts have panned the Oilers chances because of these two – but if healthy – I have to believe they will improve.

The biggest difference for the Oilers may be their defence. Another year older for many of these kids should pay dividends. The loss of injured Oscar Klefbom is certainly a blow to Edmonton, but I have to believe that they have the depth to make up for it.

Darnell Nurse may be on the verge of stardom. I love his nasty streak and his skating ability.

Yet, it’s the potential of Ethan Bear and Evan Bouchard that makes me think the Oilers defence will grow in leaps and bounds. Bear – with a new contract – will anchor the team’s power play. And if and when he falters, free agent Tyson Barrie should carry some of the load. Bear is much more than a power play specialist, and being rewarded by Ken Holland to the tune of $ 2 million AAV over two seasons will be added incentive.

Bouchard will be the biggest addition, if not out of training camp, then as quick as possible. His game in Bakersfield in the American Hockey League was far better than most 20-year-old players would produce. This kid, now 21, can supply points, and as the London Knights in junior days gone by can attest, he has leadership qualities. The Oilers have a lot to look forward to with Bouchard, who I think will be an NHL star down the road.

It’s a very glowing review for the Oilers who are on the verge of coming of age. McDavid has been great and patient in his leadership. The disappointing days are coming to an end. 

In fact, if they avoid the COVID-19 nastiness and major injury problems, this team will make the playoffs. And after that, with McDavid, anything is possible. 

Rogers Millions is the Sports Columnist for the Western Standard

Roger Millions is the Sports Columnist for the Western Standard. He was a broadcaster for the Calgary Flames for 39 years.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mars Hill

    January 11, 2021 at 12:09 am

    I think a lot of folks have written off the NHL for their sanctimonious virtue signaling. I have and glad I did, don’t miss it at all.

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Sports

Alberta lacrosse: A Short History With A Bright Future

“While the book on Alberta lacrosse may be a short one, it’s an exciting one.”

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While Alberta may not have the rich history of lacrosse like B.C. or Ontario does, it’s without a doubt significant strides have been made over the past decade. Alberta has always been the ‘little brother’ of the lacrosse community, but this little brother is starting to grow up.

Alberta is starting to see success at every level of lacrosse at the national stage. In 2017 the Team Alberta Midget team did something that had never been done before — faced off against the top 25 players from each province/territory at the National tournament and against all odds, they made a statement by winning gold. Some skeptics in the lacrosse world might have thought it was a fluke and to make sure those skeptics kept those opinions to themselves, the Team Alberta Midgets did it again in 2018.

However Junior ‘A’ Lacrosse is a bit of a different story. Unfortunately Alberta teams have not had the same storybook ending as the Midget teams did. The Junior A Mounties first made history in 2016 as the first Alberta team to get a win in the Minto Cup against a B.C. and an Ontario team, defeating the Delta Islanders and the Orangeville Northmen in round-robin play. When the Mounties lost to Orangeville in the semi-finals, the dream died.

Fast forward to the 2017 Minto Cup, the Okotoks Raiders had arguably the most competitive National showing Alberta had ever seen. They lost three games straight, but those losses came by a total of four goals, once again showing Alberta is right there knocking on the door, demanding respect from the lacrosse community..

For the most part, it’s clear Alberta’s developing dexterous teams and demonstrating potential throughout the Junior ‘B’ division. Recently, in 2019, the Calgary Shamrocks became just the third Alberta team to ever win the Junior ‘B’ national championship, ending a nine-year winning streak of Ontario teams and taking home the Founder’s Cup.

Last, but not least, is the Edmonton Senior ‘B’ Miners, who I believe to be the most dominant showing of Alberta lacrosse at the national level, based on their players’ attention to detail, and championship culture. Prior to the Presidents Cup tournament getting shut down by the pandemic in in 2020, the Miners won three of the last four years and were well on their way to solidifying themselves as a dynasty.

Lacrosse is a beautiful sport with a rich history. While the book on Alberta lacrosse may be a short one, it’s an exciting one. The game is growing in the mid-west of Canada and with the success as of late, expect that growth to continue. We are seeing more and more prairies players make their way into the NCAA lacrosse, as well as working their way into the NLL. 

Highlighting the successes and achievements of recent Alberta lacrosse teams, players and personnel is crucial in growing the game. The intent of this article, and the ones that follow, is to feature, promote and acknowledge those involved in the continued development of this historic game within the province.

Look out Canada, looks like the little brother of lacrosse just hit puberty.

Jake Foster is a Calgary born athlete and journalist with a passion for sports and story telling 

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News

NHL releases update on rescheduled games

In the Battle of Alberta, the Calgary Flames will see eight home games and two road games pushed back., while the Edmonton Oilers have five home games and four road games rescheduled.

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A comprehensive update to the 2021-2022 regular-season games was released on Wednesday by the NHL.

The Vancouver Canucks have had six home games and one away game rescheduled.

In the Battle of Alberta, the Calgary Flames will see eight home games and two road games pushed back, while the Edmonton Oilers have five home games and four road games rescheduled.

The Winnipeg Jets will see six home games and three away games rescheduled.

The revised schedule includes:

  • New dates for 98 games that had been postponed over the two-month period from Nov. 18, 2021 through Jan. 18, 2022.
  • Date changes to 23 other games to accommodate the new dates for postponed games.
  • 95 games scheduled for the 16-day window from Feb. 7-22, designated previously as a pause to accommodate NHL player participation in the Olympic Games. Games are scheduled on all 16 dates, highlighted by a 10-game slate on Thursday, Feb. 17.

“We are profoundly grateful to our fans for their support and understanding during a challenging time and to our clubs, the NHL Players’ Association and the players for their cooperation in a rescheduling of unprecedented logistical complexity,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

The complete 2021-22 regular season schedule can be viewed and accessed at www.nhl.com/flames.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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NHL postpones another 8 games due to attendance restrictions

The league said all games will be rescheduled for a later date when restrictions can be eased or lifted.

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The National Hockey League announced Friday it has axed another eight games due to COVID-related Canadian attendance restrictions.

The league said all games will be rescheduled for a later date when restrictions can be eased or lifted.

Affected games include:

Monday, January 3
Minnesota @ Ottawa

Wednesday, January 5
New York Islanders @ Vancouver

Saturday, January 8
New York Islanders @ Edmonton

Tuesday, January 11
New York Islanders @ Calgary

Wednesday, January 12
Minnesota @ Edmonton

Friday, January 14
Vegas @ Edmonton

Saturday, January 15
Vegas @ Calgary

Sunday, January 16
Edmonton @ Winnipeg

As well, due to the New York Islanders three other road game postponements, the Islanders-Seattle game on Tuesday, January 4 in Seattle has been postponed.

The league has yet to establish make-up dates for the postponed games.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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