Countless mornings staring at the clock, convinced the obnoxious 5:30 a.m. ringing in their ears was merely remnants of a flat karaoke pub singer they endured only hours previous, collectively they throw their legs over the side of the bed, and their son’s hockey equipment in the back of the family ride, for yet another trek through the darkness to the local barn.
In Canada, the 6 a.m. “Double-Double Dash” is a parents’ proverbial early-morning survival kit – not to mention the coaches – who protect their large cup of Tim Horton’s coffee on the bench like Gretzky did the biscuit, during a late third-period wide rush around yet another unassuming, flat-footed D-man.
It’s a tale shared across the continent – parents taking their children to early-morning hockey practices at ungodly hours.
And with a pinch of luck and talent to boot, that commitment often pays dividends in a child’s emotional and physical development – and on rare occasion – even “long-shot” dreams are even sometimes realized.
Edmonton Oiler’ players will have an opportunity to pay tribute to, or simply say “Thank You” to their parents this weekend, for years of those pre-sunrise arena runs, as they welcome their fathers along on the team’s current two-game road trip to Anaheim and Phoenix.
Both teams have struggled of late, with Edmonton posting a record of 2-6-2 and Anaheim going 6-2-2, the latter of which posting 0-2-2 numbers of its last four tilts. The Oil continued their hard-luck season Friday nightg, dropping a 4-3 Shootout loss to the Coyotes at Rexall Place, despite holding a 3-2 lead with 35 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Ducks left a fowl taste in the mouths of Oiler fans last season, outscoring the NHL’s most northern outpost 20-9 and running the table on Edmonton winning all four matchups against the copper and blue. Former Ducks’ D-man Ryan Whitney, Edmonton’s leading scorer this season (0-16, +/- rating of -1), will look to impose his will against his former employer, when the two teams hook up at the Honda Centre in SoCal Sunday night.
Head Coach Tom Renney’s team will have to stay out of the box to have a chance against the Ducks’ PP. Anaheim bench boss Randy Carlyle has his team’s extra-man special teams humming along at a clip of 22%, average by NHL standards but lethal against a team like the Oilers, whose PK continues to struggle at a 67.6% efficiency ratio.
In a word “anemic”, in a league dominated by opponents with dominant special-teams play.
The Oil head to the desert Tuesday for a rematch with the Coyotes, before returning home to “The Drug Store” next Thursday to face the Colorado Avalanche.
In the meantime Oiler fans, keep your chins up…sticks down.
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.