News Flash: Edmonton doesn't care if Oilers are Canada's team

The Oilers aren’t Canada’s team, they’re Edmonton’s team. And Edmonton likes it that way

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You knew it was coming.

You didn’t know from where, exactly, but you knew the kind of people it would be coming from — self-important sniffs who fold their arms, stick out their bottom lip and stubbornly declare that “The Edmonton Oilers are not Canada’s Team!”

First of all, nobody asked you. Like some insignificant radio host in Vancouver or angry writer out east gets to decide who 38 million people will be supporting in the Stanley Cup Final.

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Secondly, if you think for one split second that anyone in Edmonton cares in the slightest who fans in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto are cheering for, you are sadly mistaken.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Most Oilers fans absolutely love that Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto are hating this. Nothing is sweeter than a rival’s envy.

Rest assured, the feeling would be mutual if any of those other teams had what it takes to get this far.

When Vancouver played Boston in the 2011 final (right before the second riot) most of Canada cheered for the Bruins because they were a cooler, tougher team that did considerably less crying.

And let’s just say for the sake of argument that Toronto were to ever make a Stanley Cup Final in our lifetime. You know the rest of the country will be cheering for whoever’s on the other side.

And if Calgary…, never mind. Toronto was enough of a stretch. I don’t even think Calgary cheers for Calgary anymore.

The point is, Boston Pizza can run all the commercials about fans of all Canadian teams banding together in national harmony it wants — rivals don’t cheer for each other. Nor should they.

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Edmontonians don’t need anyone else’s support or approval. Never have, never will. They’re not insecure like that. They work hard to keep the rest of the country afloat and then smile and nod while the rest of the country cries about where the money came from.

They don’t care about being misunderstood and stereotyped, they march to their own drummer and make no apologies for the steps.

Edmonton is its own animal and if you aren’t from here you would not understand — and nobody here will lose a minute’s sleep over it.

And that is especially true of Oilers fans.

These are the people who endured hapless rebuilds, a Decade of Darkness and an endless sewage line of jokes, like this gem from around 2014:

“Oilers practice is over. They lost.”

Edmontonians spent years in the quicksand of defeat and ridicule, sticking with the team through thick and thicker, paying stupid prices for tickets, drowning their sorrows in $13 beer and running through coaches like they were the ugliest contestants on the Bachelorette.

It’s been a longer and more painful journey than anyone ever imagined when the Oilers were winning draft lotteries, building a state of the art downtown arena and talking about a Stanley Cup window that always seemed like it was painted shut.

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Now they are Western Conference Champions and, for the second time in their history, home to one of the greatest players who ever put on skates. Whether they win a championship or not this month remains to be seen. They made it this far and nobody deserves the ride more than Edmonton does.

So if anyone thinks that not wanting to jump on the bandwagon is going to hurt Edmonton’s feelings, they should think again.

And for anyone who feels a need to declare that the Oilers are not Canada’s team, you’re right.

The Oilers aren’t Canada’s team, they’re Edmonton’s team. And Edmonton likes it that way.

I’m sure many hockey fans across the country will be in the Oilers’ corner for this. Not necessarily because they’re Canadian, but because it’s an exciting team with some of the best players in the world, one of the most passionate fan bases in sports and everyone on either side of the boards paid a lot of dues to get here.

Or maybe they won’t. It doesn’t matter.

It’s still a free country — Canadians can cheer for the Oilers if they want or cheer against them if they want, but I guarantee the people in Edmonton are far too busy enjoying this to care.

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