For a city with a rich and proud sports history, the past few years have been long and about as lean as Olive Oyl on Nutrisystem. Consider the Eskimos. Once a proud franchise hailed as the flagship organization of the CFL. My oh my, how the mighty have fallen. A comedy of errors in the coaching and management portfolios and missing the playoffs in three of the past five years. How do you miss the playoffs in the CFL? I thought the rules stated that only the Hamilton Tiger Cats missed the playoffs.
Ooh, and then there’s the Oil. An organization whose fans still live in the distant past. Cue Springsteen’s Glory Days. Better living there, I suppose, than taking up squatters’ rights in the cellar with dead-last finishes in the past two years. Garsh, the Oilers have been making the Leafs look good. Who says there ain’t no miracles?
But it seems hope has sprung anew in River City. Could it be? Could it really be? Yes, perhaps we have something special here.
The Eskimos have jump-started their playoff hopes with a 4-0 start. They haven’t had such a blazing start since 1986. Yeah, that was just after their glory days. Perhaps more impressive than the 4-0 start is how they’re winning. This year, the offence can stretch the field — and not sideline to sideline a la the Danny Maciocia offences — but downfield deep. The defence can stop an offense and its secondary understands their responsibility is to cover receivers. There appears to be some pride in that green and gold jersey again.
The Oilers are showing promise, too. Those back to back last place finishes have earned them two young potential superstars in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The youngsters and the talented supporting cast show amazing potential. If they can stay healthy and if gut-check guys like Ryan Smith can show them what it takes to win in the NHL consistently, they’ll be fun to watch. Maybe they’ll all grow mullets, too. The Blackhawks showed everyone how to win with draft picks and it’s refreshing to see the Oilers are following that successful blueprint. Now if only Kevin Lowe would continue to stay out of the way!
Maybe there isn’t any silver hardware at the end of the season for the Eskies or Oilers but it would be nice for them to have some big W’s in the post-season. River City is tired of living in the past. We’re lookin’ to make some noise again!