Friday, 26 June 2015



Sporting News from the Capital Region


Edmonton hockey fans today are pleasuring themselves in the city’s streets. A new downtown ice rink slated for completion in September 2016 has been made manifest after years of local debate. The foundation poured, a titanic skeleton of structural steel now rises at the intersection of 104th Avenue and 104th Street. Even bigger news is this evening’s (about 15 minutes from now) National Hockey League annual draft of amateur players. The Edmonton Oilers by virtue of their ineptitude and a little lottery luck have been awarded the first pick.


A teenaged forward from the Ontario Hockey League named Connor McDavid has been hailed by all those involved in the industry as a ‘generational talent,’ professional hockey’s equivalent of the Second Coming. The NHL was formed in 1917 so young Mr. McDavid might be something like the Tenth Coming. Anyway, the kid’s supposed to be that good, a savant on skates projected to outshine or at the very least match such modern legends as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby. The hopes and dreams of a relatively remote, northern winter city rest on the shoulders of a boy who graduated high school last week. His job as a hockey player will be to pack that new arena, that new public building we’re all paying for. No pressure, kid, failure is not an option.


Although baseballer Pete Rose, A.K.A. Charlie Hustle, did his best (or worst) we know that nothing in sport is guaranteed. That’s why we watch the games played. Guy Lafleur skated through three mediocre seasons before his Ascension in Montreal. Eric Lindros’s spirit was willing but his flesh was weak; he never earned his wings. Edmonton’s potential Saviour is already in the harsh glare of hysterical hype. The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, has assigned a reporter full-time to the Connor McDavid beat (Shawna Richer, that publication’s sports editor, shadowed Crosby his entire rookie year).


Locally there is evidence of an ecstatic ecstasy despite a cynical and comic undercurrent convinced that the hapless Oilers could actually botch their overall number one pick. Down in the river valley a green directional sign for CONNORS ROAD has been altered by some wag fan to read CONNOR MCDAVID. A decent pub in Old Strathcona has sold every single ticket available for a happy hour draft party (all proceeds to charity). Edmonton’s newspapers have gushed ink and picas on what just might be their biggest story of the year: A Hockey God This Way Comes.

My complaint about all of this civic insanity is relatively simple. If this guy’s really all he’s cracked up to be and his career shakes down as anticipated, he won’t be doing it in a Montreal uniform. I have the same issues with Bobby Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux and Crosby. Sure they were and are okay but they never played for the Canadiens.

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