March 27, 2017. My son sends a text. My son the realtor: Broker of important exits and entrances around town, agent of big dreams, not least his own. He has tickets to the Oilers and Kings tomorrow. Win and they clinch, Pops. Want to go? Hell yeah, I reply.
Same night. I sit with the kid’s lovely fiance in the mostly deserted stands at Clare Drake Arena, watching his team of mutts, current students and recent alumni from a half dozen faculties who call themselves the Brewistocrats, take on the button-down Law School guys for the U of A’s intramural championship. The mutts win a close game 3-1, and my boy pots the insurance marker. I realize this is the first time I’ve watched him play since he was still in high school. Sure, it’s only beer league, but I’m prouder than I let on to his future bride.
May 27, 2006. My son and I join a spontaneous parade of honking cars and trucks sporting Oilers colours on Whyte Avenue after the home team vanquishes the Ducks in five to win the Western Conference championship. At 15, he’s too young for the real hijinks on Whyte, but I have one for him (okay, maybe three or four) as I sit with some buddies in Cook County Saloon a few weeks later and watch the Oilers take Game 6 of the finals against Carolina, 4-0. Got ’em now, we shout, clinking mugs. Turns out we don’t, but it sure is fun while it lasts.
May 24, 1990. My son, imminent inside his mom’s womb, is there and yet not quite when the Oilers win their fifth Cup in seven seasons. It is the capper to a dynasty, I realize as I write these words, that began when I was exactly the same age he is now. Such is the peculiar calculus of a sentimentalist nearing 60.
March 28, 2017. We sit in the crazy-priced seats at centre ice in the lower bowl of Rogers Place. Edmonton is up 2-1 on L.A. with less than a minute to play, and the largest scoreboard in the NHL tells us the decibel meter has just crossed 105. The building is shaking with the full-throated relief of more than 18,000 long-suffering fans. None of them are happier than me as the final horn sounds and I turn to high-five the confident and handsome young man beside me. As autumn looms for me, spring is here for him.
April 22, 2017. I watch, old man style, from the comfort of my basement as the Oilers dispatch the Sharks. Across town, in a condo off Whyte, my son, his girl and their buddies shout and clink glasses. Let’s go, Oilers, let’s go!
Once upon a time, Scot Morison wrote a novel and some short stories, but he has spent the past 20 years writing for “the dark side” – television. His most recent project was Arena: Building of an Icon, a documentary about the politics, design and construction behind Rogers Place, produced for Sportsnet.
OK, be honest, have you taken your Christmas decorations down, yet?