Oil on skin: Edmonton Oilers fan reflects on back tattoo from 2006 final

“First tattoo and it was nine and a half hours I had to sit,” said Genest

Article content

While the Edmonton Oilers continue their quest for the Stanley Cup, the iconic trophy has been part of lifelong fan, Kevin Genest, for 18 years.

In the spring of 2006, the city of Edmonton was experiencing a similar boom to now. After a middling performance in the 2005/06 season, the Oilers managed to claw their way to the Stanley Cup Final, igniting the city into a fan frenzy. Amid the excitement, a local radio station hosted a contest prompting participants to do various challenges for the chance to win $35,000.

Advertisement 2

Article content

With the Oilers back in the Stanley Cup Final, most fans are reminiscing of the last time the team made it this far. For Genest, there’s an easy memory that sticks out. It’s a painful one, and it’s one he’ll literally never forget.

From the nape of his neck, to just above his buttocks, Genest has Lord Stanley tattooed on his back — and while the ink may have faded, neither his love for the team nor his pride in the tattoo have.

“For whatever reason, something just came over me and I’m like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,’ ” Genest said in an interview with Postmedia.

Recommended from Editorial

How it happened

Local radio station 100.3 The Bear hosted a contest that gave listeners a chance to win $35,000. To be entered into the contest, participants had to complete assigned “missions.” Upon completion, their names would be entered into a reverse draw, where the last name drawn won the money. The challenges were not for the faint of heart.

Two contestants had to roll in corn syrup, get covered in feathers, and had to run from Rexall Place to the Ranch, or today’s Midway, on Calgary Trail. Another contestant had to endure a jockstrap full of Tiger Balm — a topical ointment that causes a heating sensation for sore muscles. A third contestant even had their backside branded with “Go Oil.”

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Genest’s challenge was the tattoo.

The rule was that Genest couldn’t have any other tattoos, meaning the cup would be his inaugural ink. He recalled thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

Fresh out of a long-term relationship, Genest had been looking for something to shake things up. When his call into the radio station went through and he received his mission, Genest’s wish came true.

Getting the tattoo

Having accepted the challenge the day before, Genest showed up to the tattoo shop shortly before 8 a.m. He’d spoken with the artists before who advised him on what to eat to prepare himself as best he could for the pain to come.

“First tattoo and it was nine and a half hours I had to sit,” said Genest.

Edmonton Oilers fan tattoo
As part of a radio promotion, Kevin Genest, 25, got a tattoo of the Stanley Cup that covers his entire back. Photo by File Photo /Postmedia

The ink took so long he actually had two artists complete the work, with one starting in the morning and tagging out with another halfway through the day to finish the job.

“At about 12:30 p.m., I remember my body started going into shock a little bit,” said Genest.

A friend fed a hamburger through the chair as the artists worked diligently to ink the Stanley Cup onto his back. At roughly 4 p.m., Genest was finally told what he’d been waiting all day to hear — that the tattoo was nearing completion and it was time to call the station.

Advertisement 4

Article content

After the tattoo

What happened after the tattoo is best divided into three sections.

“The drive home was brutal.”

While he sat for the tattoo, his car, meanwhile, was baking in the hot spring sun, leading to an almost equally painful experience. Genest said as soon as he got in the car, he felt the sweat start to run, stinging every tattooed inch of his back in the process.

Despite his painful endurance of the tattoo, Genest didn’t win the money. His name was drawn eighth-last, leaving him with an enormous tattoo and no extra money for it, but the lifelong Oilers fan has no regrets.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My summer was amazing that year,” he said.

Edmonton Oilers fan tattoo
Kevin Genest (right) displays the tattoo of the Stanley Cup and the Edmonton Oilers logo that now covers his back Friday afternoon. Genest got the tattoo as part of the The Bear 100.3 FM’s The Really Really Tough Contest on the Paul Brown show. The tattoo which took 9 hours in one sitting to complete, now gives Genest a 1 in 16 chance to win $35,000. Genest will know if he won June 16, 2006. Photo by File Photo /Postmedia

Genest has been an Oilers fan since he was a child and could “genuinely fit into a jersey and know what icing was.” The tattoo, which the station footed the bill for, is likely worth more than $1,500 by today’s rates, and he went on to get a couple more in the same summer.

“It gets a ton of looks,” said Genest of the tattoo today.

It’s been 18 years since he originally got the ink, and Genest said his family and friends have grown accustomed to it. He remembered his late mother, who used to joke that her son was crazy and ridiculous for getting the piece, but would proudly tell her own friends of it and display the Edmonton Journal’s original article of it on her fridge.

Genest said he’s been approached several times while on vacation for people to get their photo taken with the cup on his back.

What now

With the Oilers in his blood, or at least on his skin, Genest is feeling the same thrill of the playoffs as fans across Edmonton. Having not touched the original tattoo since he got it, Genest swore he would only update it when the Oilers won a Stanley Cup.

As the team prepares to take on the Florida Panthers Saturday, he’s optimistic about getting some upgrades to his back soon.

[email protected]

Article content