So we weren’t on Dany Heatley’s list of teams he would prefer to be traded to. I actually don’t think that not being able to get this “non-team player” is actually much of a real loss, but it does give rise to some rather important questions.

What is it about our hockey team and/or this city that makes NHL players not want to be traded here? If it were only the monetarily opportunistic Heatley who had us on a “no-go” list, I wouldn’t think too much of it. But as far as I can tell, many NHLers feel the same way.

I suppose an easy answer to this perplexing question is that Edmonton is too cold, too isolated, and too provincial to deserve consideration. That might be the opinion of some players, but it’s not like the weather has changed dramatically since the glory days of the Oilers when everyone wanted to play here. In addition, the city is larger than it was then and offers far more diversions of a cosmopolitan nature.

For a while, we didn’t have the bucks to draw big-name talent, but with Daryl Katz as the owner, that’s no longer a problem. Could it be that players think we’re not a Stanley Cup contender? Well, we went to the show not that long ago. Toronto hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967 and it doesn’t seem to have a problem recruiting players.

The reluctance of players to come here certainly can’t be because we’re not a hockey town. As our last shot at the cup showed, this is a city full of people who eat, sleep and breathe hockey. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we love our hockey just a little too much and that makes us rag on our players when they don’t produce. Maybe that’s what Mike Comrie whispered in Heatley’s ear. Or perhaps Dustin Penner, or one of the other non-performing Oilers, called him and warned him about the perils of fans who expect results and demand accountability.

Like it or not, the two major things Edmonton is known for are West Edmonton Mall and the Oilers. We need to find out why Edmonton is getting a bad rap.

When players publicly reject relocating to Edmonton, the negative effect washes over the entire city. It creates damage to our reputation that goes far beyond our hockey team.

– Terence Harding is a corporate communicator. He’s a keen observer of all things Edmonton;

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