Tag: Edmonton Oilers

Day 995: Little Rivalry On The Prairie

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Newcomers to the city of Edmonton inevitably have questions regarding our perpetual rivals to the south, or what has come to be known as the Battle of Alberta. They don’t ask me – I purposely sport a fanny-pack and 20 pounds of camera gear when I wander about the city so that tourists don’t talk to me – but they’ll ask somebody. The answer they’ll probably get is “hockey”, which is blatantly misleading and 100% wrong.

Edmonton and Calgary have held a semi-snarly relationship for much longer than the history of professional hockey in either city. Far from a rivalry of mere convenience (we are the only two major cities in the province), the Battle of Alberta extends to fundamental belief systems, to political preferential treatment, to bigotry, inclusion, and of course… money.

Which is truly the greater city? As a lifelong resident of Edmonton, my honest answer is that I don’t care. Both cities are gorgeous: they have the Stampede, we have the continent’s most impressive Fringe Theatre Festival. They have proximity to the magnificent mountains, we have an exquisite river valley. They are the economic home-base of the province, we have a gigantic mall.

But enough of the niceness. Let’s see how this got ugly.

BlackfootConfederacy-1

The Battle of Alberta extends for centuries before there was even an Alberta over which to battle. The Blackfoot Confederacy was the political union among the Blackfoot tribes who moseyed about southern Alberta and Montana, killing buffalo and living a northern version of the indigenous lifestyle of the American Indian. Up in the boreal forest that covered the northern half of the as-yet-undesignated province, the Cree and their allies (known as the Iron Confederacy, making the history of this region sound like a bad-ass Native version of Game of Thrones) lived a subarctic lifestyle, which involved trapping and fur-trading. Read more…

Day 566: The 566th Day Stretch

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Regular readers know I don’t devote a lot of my sports-watching time to anything other than NFL football and Olympic shot-put trials. Nothing against the other sports out there – I simply like the fact that I can cram all my vicarious thrill-gaming into Sunday. Well, and Monday night. Thursday Night Football still messes me up.

But I am a lover of all sports, in that I love the drama that comes bundled with them. When my hometown Oilers made it to the Stanley Cup finals back in ’06, I cheered them on. When the Boston Red Sox finally conquered the Curse of the Bambino, I celebrated. And when the Swedish women just barely bested Denmark in the 1997 European Curling Championships I… no, I’m joking.  I’d rather watch Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, dubbed with a painfully nasal, even Drescher-esque Korean soundtrack than watch curling on television.

Baseball is one sport I truly respect. Here’s a sport with maybe a minute and a half of pure action in any game, yet still it can be riveting to watch. It’s a sport based on tension; the Alfred Hitchcock of sports. And it’s the only sport to incorporate well-being and proper circulation right into the game, in the form of a mandated late-game stretch.

Well, they do that in beach volleyball too, but that''s known for being a sport all about the fans.

Well, they do that in beach volleyball too, but that”s known for being a sport all about the fans.

Like any piece of baseball tradition, the seventh inning stretch dates back to the 19th century. And like any piece of history from the 19th century that wasn’t recorded in an official Congressional record, the specific details are a little sketchy. One story claims that Brother Jasper, the holy man credited with bringing baseball to Manhattan College, decreed during a particularly suspenseful game that all players and fans should give their muscles some much-needed movement.

That’s about as dull an origin story as anyone could come up with. Read more…

Day 495: Grid-Iron Sneakery At Its Finest

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If you’re anything like me, then the NBA playoffs are not exactly sparking your motor into overdrive. I’m surrounded by people who bleed hockey, and even though our lowly Oilers are watching the NHL playoffs from their well-worn sideline seats, you can almost hear the visceral whoosh of mouth-froth around town when the puck drops on any televised playoff game. But I’m just not a big hockey fan.

My sport of choice is dormant right now. Yes, the NFL draft was just a couple short weeks ago, but that buzz has worn off, and we fans are stuck pining for a retro game on the NFL network that can keep our fever prickled until the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the pre-season in August.

So yes, I’m shrugging off any and all waves of playoff fever that might be surging through various sports bars, water coolers and barcaloungers around the country, and writing about football. Specifically, the football plays that the casual fan may have never seen. Quirky weirdness – like the Fumblerooski.

Fumblerooski

The roots of this wonky play date back to the 1933 Texas High School Football Championship. It rocketed to popularity after a desperate Nebraska team, down 17-0 after one quarter, successfully used it to boggle the brains of Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl game. It didn’t net them a win, but it turned some heads. Read more…

Day 411: Welcome To Nickname City!

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A city’s nickname holds, in my estimation, no appeal to tourists. Some may possess the kind of staying-power that shortens the legs on advertising execs’ pants, like The Big Apple, The Big Easy, The Easy Apple, The Windy City, or The Big Easy Sister Cities of Brotherly Love Of Wind. But more often, they don’t mean much to anyone, aside from the council members who voted for it and the guy who got paid to build the signs.

Edmonton, where I greet and curse each new day, is known as the City of Champions. This designation came about in the 1980’s, when the Oilers were winning a lot of Stanley Cups (hasn’t happened in 22 years and counting), the Eskimos were Canadian Football champs (there are eight teams in the league – everybody ends up winning eventually), and I think our minor-league baseball team was pretty good (they’re long gone now). We’d also gone through a tornado that killed three dozen people in 1987, so mayor Lawrence Decore slapped that slogan on all the signs leading into the city. But are we champions? I don’t see it.

The cities and towns in Iowa have their own nicknames, likely none of which truly identify the soul of their city. I don’t know, let’s have a look.

FortMadison

Fort Madison, Iowa, is known as Pen City, which would be perfectly apt if the entire city – or even just a building or two – was constructed out of pens. Sadly, this is not the case. Fort Madison is the hometown for Sheaffer Pens though, which employed much of the town after its founding in 1912. But the company up and split for Shelton, Connecticut, leaving Fort Madison pen-less.

Well, almost. There’s still that other pen – the Iowa State Penitentiary, the most nefariously tough maximum security prison in the state. I’m not certain if this is the means by which Fort Madison residents wish to be identified, but for now, this is the pen they get. Read more…