It was about eight years ago that I googled something on the Oilers, I can't remember what, and one of the results directed me to a website called Covered In Oil. After an hour or so of reading and crying from laughing so hard I clicked on the links there and found Battle of Alberta, Irreverent Oil Fans, Mc79Hockey and Lowetide.
Golden days. Of course this was the winter of 2006 and the Oilers were beginning what would be a wonderful trip and if you were an Oiler fan on the internet your companions and guides on this journey were Chris Boutet, Mike Winters, Dave Berry, Hugh MacKenzie (and Matt Fenwick providing the Flames' point of view at BofA), Vic Ferrari, Dennis King, Cam Thomson, Tyler Dellow and Alan Mitchell. As well Colby Cosh, Erin Loxam and Andy Grabia provided their own insights on their own websites that were not Oilercentric.
As a guy who had always read traditional media it was a wonderful and exciting new world. Coverage of my favourite team by all of these excellent writers, the great insight, the humour, the, well, the irreverence, pulled me in and inspired me and so I started this blog.
On February 8th I wrote my first post and here is what I said, short and sweet (for once):
And awayyyyy we go!
Stay tuned for musings on nearing 40, life with a wife, two kids (how did that happen!?) and Satan's Foreign Minister (our dog), the exciting times we live in, pubs I've known and loved, Guinness and the Edmonton Oilers, among other things.
Not necessarily in that order.
This may take a while for me to figure out but - as my two year old says - this is her mantra - "I do it by the self!"
Her, I trust to do it by the self.
As for me, well, good luck with that.
It didn't take long before it became an Oilers' blog, period. Hugh MacKenzie pointed out my existence to the community and I learned pretty quickly that standards were high when Colby Cosh commented on Hugh's introduction over at Battle of Alberta that he would take a pass on the new guy thanks, he had read my latest post and my reference to the 'young Edmonton Oilers' was both lazy and inaccurate.
And so I learned. I have always written but I lack the talent and work ethic to do much more than I do here. The vignettes, little snapshots, that is what I can do and so that is what I did and I honed my craft, if I may be so bold as to call it this that, and so I became perhaps the best I can be. Its not much but I enjoy what I do and I think that's what matters.
A few years into this the Oilers were losing and I was finding it difficult to write about the club. How many ways can you write that a team is terrible (quite a bit we know now) and so with old favourite Fernando Pisani returning from a bout with the illness that ruined his career I wrote a story about how my old man and I weathered a winter storm to trek to the beer store to get some supplies, stopping in a pub to enjoy a fireside pint on the way. I tied this into Pisani and the response was good and so I wrote another story in my next post and then another and so the blog went back to its origins. I wrote about being a parent and a husband and about my dog and my folks and travelling and the old days and the kind words and comments left me awestruck and inspired and gave me strength in tough times, when illness struck my father in law and my mom and when my old dog passed, nearly four years now he's been gone, can you believe it.
This is post number 1000 and there have been over 425000 page views and nearly 10000 comments and while this is what LT sees (and posts) in a week ;) its been humbling to see these numbers and, yes, gratifying, what can I say, I'm not going to fake it and say that I am not proud of this. For a couple of years I was part of The Score, linked by them and so I was paid to be a writer, if only a little, and boy was I proud to get that money to pay for my beer each month.
Where does this blog go from here? Well you only have to look at the right hand side of the page to see that I don't post as much as I used to. I don't have the time I used to have but even when I do I don't post and a lot of this has to do with the sad state of the Oilers. As I noted above how often can you rage against the machine? I have better things to do and really I have little to add to the conversation other than my mantra which I see quite a bit on the twitter - get good players and keep them. The Oilers have dumped good players for years without replacing them and Horcoff, Smid and soon Hemsky will be out the door for nothing to show for them but cap space and yeah there's a reason this club has sucked for eight years and my bet is the hole is so big that we're heading into Islanders' territory, I hope I'm wrong but fear that I am not.
That said I will keep on keeping on with the odd tale of beer league (we're in a horrible slump) and the boy's evolution as a player (he's really coming on, you should have seen him play yesterday it was a joy) and my oldest becoming a teenager (its coming and its terrifying) and my parents getting older (its here and its beyond terrifying).
Because in the end this blog has gone back to its origins. Its my story and our story. I have over five hundred pages of stories parsed from this blog and if I get my shit together I will cut that in half and get it out there and maybe sell a dozen copies for cost plus shipping. I guess that's the project now. I'm not out of stories but I want to do something with what I have put out there.
Time to close now, I'm meandering which is my wont and is just fine by me. This blog, to me, has become the equivalent of a guy telling stories in a bar, with the game on in the background and my observations on that thrown in. The crowd has thinned out and my memory isn't what it was but I hope that for those of you who still come by that you still enjoy it.
Spare me a moment as I become a bit sentimental (some wags would say that I always am, to those I would say more sentimental ;) ). Thank you thank you thank you. You have made a difference in my life and I hope if you have taken anything from these wandering tales that it would be this. Be kind. Laugh. Enjoy. Love. Life is very short my internet friends. Make the best of it. Eat. Drink. Be merry.
And thank you again.