The Edmonton Oilers are hoping to end the old barn’s NHL era on a high note.
Tonight, they’ll host the Vancouver Canucks in the final game at Rexall Place, before moving downtown to a new arena next season.
On Saturday, the final Battle of Alberta at Rexall didn’t go so well for the home team. The Oilers got thumped, 5-0, by the Flames — a loss that Edmonton’s increasingly beleaguered-sounding head coach, Todd McLellan, called “freaking embarrassing.”
The players have vowed that won’t happen again.
“The message has been received loud and clear how that last game went,” said rookie phenom Connor McDavid, per the Edmonton Journal. “As a whole group we want to play our best here for the final game. There are a lot of people going to be in the building, special alumni, great fans, we want to put our best foot forward and play a solid game.”
So many memorable hockey moments have occurred inside the arena that used to be called Northlands Coliseum. The 1980s Oilers hoisted the Cup four times there. Wayne Gretzky broke all sorts of scoring records there.
Of course, it’s been a long time since Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Fuhr, Coffey, and Anderson ruled the league. There hasn’t even been a playoff game at Rexall Place since 2006, a decade ago.
And there never will be again.
“You look up and you see the banners and the names in the rafters, it’s a special place,” McDavid said. “It’s really hard to picture what it would have been like winning a Stanley Cup here with how everything has gone this year, but I can only imagine what it must have been like.”
Dec. 30, 1981: Gretzky scores five goals against the Flyers to reach 50 goals in 39 games.
May 19, 1984: The Oilers win their first Stanley Cup, defeating the Islanders in Game 5 of the final.
April 30, 1986: Steve Smith scores the most famous own goal in hockey history, allowing the Flames to upset the Oilers in seven games.
May 31, 1987: Glenn Anderson’s goal clinches the Oilers’ third Stanley Cup, as they defeat the Flyers in a thrilling seven-game series.
Oct. 15, 1989: Gretzky becomes the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
June 10, 2006: Oilers fans belt out the Canadian national anthem prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final versus Carolina.