Last night was the final Oilers game at Rexall Place, longer and better known (and carrying better memories) as Northlands Coliseum. It was the NHL’s second oldest arena, and not even old in that charming sort of way some of hockey’s venerable barns can pull off. It was a dump (which is its own sort of charm!). But who cares? In the ‘80s was home to some of the most dominant hockey ever played, and the greatest player to ever take the ice. That’s worth remembering.
“It’s a bittersweet night for all of us,” Kevin Lowe said.
Chris Joseph recalled both sides of the coin:
“I was fortunate enough to have caught the tail end of the dynasty and I also caught the beginning of empty buildings, the beginning of the boos, so I got a little bit of each. But regardless of all of that, we all have a special place in our heart for this building, this team, this organization, these fans.
“And no matter how bad or good it got, that’s irrelevant. We all had a good time and we all want to celebrate what has been a wonderful building and a wonderful place to play and we all want to see it one last time.”
The postgame ceremony after the Oilers blew out the Canucks (some things never change) was a sweet one, if lengthy, though no one seemed inclined to go anywhere. The Oilers paraded out seemingly everyone who’d ever laced up for the team, or cleaned the ice, or served hot dogs at the concession stand, and closed by lowering a banner in a building where so many were raised.
Roughly in descending order, these were my favorite parts of the night. A video farewell to the building:
A goodbye from the old dot-matrix scoreboard board, which was up until 1987:
But the best moment was before puck drop, when the Oilers gave the final rendition of “O Canada” to a video of longtime singer Paul Lorieau, who died in 2013. The fans took it from there: