With the NHL all-star game taking place in Montreal this Sunday, and with my Oilers column due immediately, the question popped into my mind — isn’t the city of Edmonton due or overdue for its turn in the spotlight?
After all, it’s been exactly 20 years since the Oilers hosted the mid-season celebration of individual excellence.
How long is that in hockey terms?
Well, let’s put it this way — surefire non-Hall-of-Famers such as Walt Poddubny, Mike Ridley and Mike McPhee were among those named as reserves for the Wales Conference team that year.
Thanks to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, there won’t be an all-star game next season.
But beyond that, the league hasn’t awarded any city the honour of hosting subsequent games. And although the Oilers can’t point to 100 years of history as the Canadiens can, they do have a number of important franchise anniversaries on the horizon the all-star weekend could help celebrate.
In 2010-11, it will have been 25 years since Edmonton won its third Stanley Cup; the following season will mark the 25th year since the Oilers’ second back-to-back championship; and 2014-15 represents a quarter-century since (potentially) their last Cup win.
Any one of those seasons would make a ton of sense; now it’s up to Oilers owner Daryl Katz and his management team to make it so.
And hey, here’s a thought — what if the all-star game could be played outside in Edmonton? If the Oilers were awarded the 2013 game, they could pay tribute to the decade that’s passed since the first Heritage Classic took place at Commonwealth Stadium.
Now, maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, who cares about a worthless game that’s held mainly for the NHL’s corporate sponsors?
And maybe I agree with you. But let’s quickly recap some of the cities that have hosted the all-star game since the Oilers did:
San Jose. Tampa Bay. Los Angeles. Florida. And Atlanta.
If the all-star game is good enough for those five hockey hotbeds, there’s certainly room for another mid-season visit to Edmonton.