EDMONTON – Every player who has ever put on an Oilers jersey and played a game at Rexall Place has been invited back to bid the arena farewell.
The Edmonton Oilers will play their last regular season game at Rexall Place on April 6 as they get set to move downtown to Rogers Place for the 2016-17 NHL season. On Friday, the organization announced plans for the big send off.
Following the game between the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks, a closing ceremony will take place. It will involve a video tribute to the Oilers’ history at the building now known as Rexall Place, “spanning eras from the franchise’s time in the WHA, to the early years in the NHL, the glory years of the Stanley Cup dynasty teams, the amazing 2006 Stanley Cup playoff, the modern era and everything in between.”
“We are honoured to invite the Oilers family back to Rexall Place for one final evening with our amazing fans. Whether you played one game or 1,000 for the Oilers, the franchise is in your blood,” Oilers Entertainment Group vice chair Kevin Lowe said.
“There are so many memories, stories, and hallmark moments in life that have occurred in the building for our fans and players alike, so it is important to recognize our time there with a celebration of this magnitude.”
The Oilers joined the NHL in 1979. It was that same year Douglas Hicks donned the copper and blue for the first time, playing in the Oilers’ first NHL game in what was then known as Northlands Coliseum.
One of Hicks’ greatest memories of the arena was being there when Wayne Gretzky did the unthinkable on Dec. 30, 1981. The Great One scored his 50th goal of the season in just 39 games.
“Some really, really cool times and raucous … You swear the roof was going to come off that old building sometimes,” Hicks said.
Hicks played with the Oilers until 1982. He now owns a fine wine store in St. Albert. When Hicks heard every player to play a game with the Oilers was invited to the farewell, he was over the moon with excitement.
“I thought it was a brilliant idea,” he said. “To go back that far and to invite that many guys is absolutely phenomenal.
“Won’t be suitin’ it up but I’ll still be in the building and it’s fantastic. That old building hung in there for a long time and (there were) a lot of exciting moments in that building.”
The Oilers have been preparing to say goodbye to the arena all season, with mini “Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler” tributes. Oilers alumni and other prominent people associated with the organization have been showcased at each home game.
One of biggest events to take place at Rexall this season was when Glen Sather had a banner raised to the rafters. Sather wore the Oilers’ sweater in the WHA, coached the team to four Stanley Cup championships and managed in Edmonton for two decades.
Watch below: One-on-one with Oilers great Glen Sather
What’s your most memorable moment from Rexall Place? Leave your story in the comments section below.
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