In order to fit in all of the post-game festivities the Oilers have planned, the game has been bumped up to a 5 p.m. start. The game against the Vancouver Canucks was originally scheduled to start at 8 p.m. The doors of Rexall Place will open at 3:30 p.m. on game day.
Chad Petryshen is an avid Oilers fan. He bought tickets for the farewell game as soon as they went on sale. He admits getting to the game for a 5 p.m. start time isn’t ideal but he intends to make it work.
“It’s a little tough. You have plans for three hours later and you have to be at the building for 3:30, 4 p.m. It makes a bit of a sudden change of plans,” Petryshen said. “A little frustrating but you try to do the best you can to get off work and head out.
“I’ve spent so much time at Rexall and it would be really weird not to be there for the last game and I think the whole atmosphere is going to be something incredible.”
Every player who has ever put on an Oilers jersey and played a game at Rexall Place has been invited back to take part in the farewell event.
Oilers Entertainment Group vice chair Kevin Lowe said so far, the response has been fantastic.
“They’re just ironing out the last details… but it’ll be a good half hour, probably 45 minutes so we’re excited about it. Our game night presentation people have been working hard for a number of months and they have a real special evening planned,” he said.
“We think people hopefully will maybe take a couple hours off of work and come down.”
Following the game between the Oilers and 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.”
It’s bound to an emotional night for all the players, former players and members of the Oilers organization.
Friday morning, three former Oilers, including Lowe, spoke about their memories inside the building now known as Rexall Place, including Ryan Smyth.
Smyth played 15 seasons with the Oilers. With so many great moments to choose from he said it’s hard to pick a favourite, but Game 6 of the 2006 cup run against Carolina was definitely a standout.
“It was probably our best game. The fans were electrifying. The stadium was, I thought the roof was going to come off,” he said Friday. “It was so electrifying and it just ran through your body.”
Smyth played his last career NHL game at Rexall Place on April 12, 2014. It was an emotional night for Smyth and the fans, who gave the Oiler numerous standing ovations, chanting “Smytty, Smytty, Smytty.”
“It really felt like I knew every single fan. That’s how appreciative I was of the fact that they obviously stayed around and I was very humbled by that.”
IN PHOTOS: Ryan Smyth plays his final game in the NHL
While his last game was emotional, Smyth said April 6 will be too.
“A lot of tears, for sure,” he said. “It’s more than just a hockey rink. There’s history with the old Oilers, the guys that paved the way for us that have won cups, for these guys that are on the ice now.”
Watch below: An emotional farewell to Ryan Smyth
Fellow former Oiler Dave Semenko, who won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers, recalled the first time he entered the building in 1974, shortly after it opened. He was in Edmonton to face the Oil Kings. Semenko went up to the top of the stands to take it all in, getting a good view of the building.
“I had no idea destiny was going to lead me here,” he said. “I had no idea I was going to be playing on that ice surface one day.”
Semenko isn’t sure if he’ll go back to his original seat come April 6.
“Someone’s probably going to be sitting here. I’ll tell him to get up,” he said with a laugh.
The game and closing ceremony will be broadcast nationally to allow Oilers fans from across the country to tune in.
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