It’s a weird feeling knowing that people are reading this site, my words, and my attempt at digital scrivening. I know, I know, what a terribly self absorbed comment to make given the great amount of interaction that you, the fine readers of TtF, have given in such a short time to an Oklahoma-based blog NOT about college football or Jesus (two things I love). And I’m eternally grateful that people read, enjoy, share, interact, and sing-along to a site that I’d write whether no one read or not. But something happened this week that hasn’t happened all season. I got hate mail. I feel I’ve arrived as a hockey writer.
Well, the hate mail wasn’t necessary sent my way, so I’ll slow my roll on the having arrived comment. Yes, it hit my inbox, but it wasn’t directed at me. Rather it was directed at a team, and a folk, and a place, and an organization that this site doesn’t completely cover. Of course, I’m talking about the Edmonton Oilers.
The hate spewing from individuals that read or glance at this site is quite unique. It’s not a huge portion, but rather a very very small minority. But it’s entertaining, and so it’ll get some exposure in this space in the coming months (unless unicorns and rainbows overtake our psyche). And this particular arrival of hate mail is even more noteworthy in a locked out season, because hatred for success runs deep — even in the minors.
Instead of tiptoeing through the tulips, let’s jump right in.
After back-to-back brutally tough wins for the Barons against the Admirals at home, an emailer from the Milwaukee area had this to say (note: names have been changed; portions of email omitted; juicy stuff kept in tact; all gave permission to quote; thanks!)
Militant In Milwaukee writes:
You guys win because of the NHL players. Stop acting like it’s a big deal. I could play forward on this team and score a dozen goals. It’s not right. It’s not fair.
Militant has a point, and actually he/she is 100% right and 100% wrong. The Barons are winning in the present because of their NHL players. But they haven’t won a lot. But the part that intrigues me the most about this comment is the final sentiment. Indeed it’s not right that players from the NHL, whom are the team leaders in various categories, are able to play in the minors. It just seems really odd. But to say it’s unfair is just not so. It’s fully within the rules, based on contract agreements between the NHL and the AHL, so there’s no “it’s not fair” language allowed. You need someone to blame, look to the leagues. They are to blame (on various levels).
The second email was a bit more forthright in its hatred of Edmonton.
Flagrantly Foul In Florida writes:
The Oilers have either had really dumb luck or they are favored by the league. Suddenly their minor league farm team gets really good with three players that should never play in the AHL again? I hate them so much. I hate what they’ve done to the game of hockey.
Wow, one half-locked-out season and the world forgets the doldrums of the Edmonton Oilers. Remember how this Barons team was formed – by being a terrible NHL team. Two of the last three #1 picks are playing in Oklahoma City, not in Edmonton. Let that settle in for a moment. Brief and short spasms of “being good” have been overshadowed by long and often bursts of “being really bad”. And before you hurl insults towards the Oilers/Barons and their fans, consider what it takes to dump the top end of your roster into the minors. Trust me, Oilers fans feel some hurt knowing that, so don’t pretend like they don’t know what it means to take their lumps. They have.
I’ve written before that I’m a Dallas Stars fan at heart. Admittedly when the Barons and Oilers began their affiliation I kinda rolled my eyes because I’m not an “Oilers Guy”. But during the lockout, I’ve learned from the team’s fans. They are fun, jovial, sincere, smart, biting, anxious, but always devoted. Very few fan bases would increase the use of their minor league affiliates hashtag in a lockout season. Sure they have lots of familiar faves to cheer for, but they also have bought into the process, and are all that better for doing so. When the lockout ends, I’d imagine that Edmonton Oilers fans have a really strong grasp of the minor league and how it works, moreso than they did prior to the lockout. And that’s good on them.
Please, don’t hesitate to email me. Those excerpts above were from some really smart and passionate fans. They also felt the need to vent in a very coherent manor, and not overly chippy. To them I’m grateful. Through their civility of words we all learn and understand the game a little better. So keep the mail bag full. And in the meantime, don’t hate Edmonton, don’t hate the Barons, but rather relish in the process while also enjoying a fantastic replacement for an NHL season.