January 18, 2011

Where were you in the Shtalenkov years?

Another string a fresh losses and another slap in the face of Oilers fans. Mid-season always brings the usual accumulation of losses, a series of rants by Oilers bloggers and another hit to the fan base.

Fans are fickle. If you win, you get fans. If you don't, then people will find better things to do with their time. I'm glad to say that I'm not that fickle when it comes to my beloved Oilers (though some might say I'm more "sad" than "glad" since I don't have anything better to do).

In fact, since I've become a real fan of the Oil I've sat through the worst stretch of Oilers seasons in history. Not hard, I guess, considering their short and distinguished history, but look at these numbers! They're bad by any standards. I would say that I became a "real fan" back in 1997 along with thousands of others with "the Marchant goal". So what have we done since then? Well...

1996–97 81pts Lost in Rd 2, 1–4 (Avalanche)

1997–98 80pts Lost in Rd 2, 1–4 (Stars)

1998–99 78pts Lost in Rd 1, 0–4 (Stars)

1999–00 88pts Lost in Rd 1, 1–4 (Stars)

2000–01 93pts Lost in Rd 1, 2–4 (Stars)

2001–02 92pts Did not qualify

2002–03 92pts Lost in Rd 1, 2–4 (Stars)

2003–04 89pts Did not qualify

2004–05 Season cancelled due to 2004–05 NHL Lockout

2005–06 95pts Lost in Stanley Cup Final, 3–4 (Hurricanes)

2006–07 71pts Did not qualify

2007–08 88pts Did not qualify

2008–09 85pts Did not qualify

2009–10 62pts Did not qualify

First of all: f**king Stars!! I hate them! Hate them all!!

Second of all: For that '06 run to the finals I just so happened to have just finished my undergrad and headed out on a 6-month trip to Europe in May
. I ended up pretty much missing the whole thing! Had I known the Oil weren't just gonna do their usual first round exit to the Stars I would've delayed my trip for 2 months!! Still irks me. By "irk" I mean "emotionally destroys". (This may or may not be the reason for the bitterness evident below)

Anyways, upon returning from my trip I found that everyone had suddenly become an Oilers fan. Everyone loved Pisani (I was the first to call Fernando's name!). Everyone acted as though they had been following the Oilers for years and it was their team. I couldn't take it! Fongolia and I had suffered through years of Oilers failures and earned the right to call ourselves Oilers fans. "Where were you in the Shtalenkov years?" would become my new fan motto. If you knew who Shtalenkov was and how crappy those years were, I accepted you as a real fan. Of course, someone could easily pull the same phrase on me, but replace "Shtalenkov" with some other sucker. But, the fact is, I had made it through some pretty low times.

From The 654

Of course, I knew that one day (although I had hoped it wouldn't be so soon) the Oilers would go back to filling up the record books with more failed seasons and the Oilers fan base would return to it's pre-bandwagon size. The only people still facebooking/tweeting/blogging about the Oilers at this point in the 2010-11 season are the actual fans. The ones that will follow the team every season through its ups and downs. They will discuss the stupidity of every GM that comes into town. And they will sit down on that couch and ride that emotional wave between anger and depression. And they will wait. Wait for better days and maybe, just maybe one of those sporadic (for the Oilers at least) runs in the playoffs.

So where was I in the Shtalenkov years? Why, I was right here. Sitting on my couch. Cursing Joey Beranek. Booing Alex Selivanov. And loving every minute of it. Where were you?