On a too-warm-for-winter December day last year, the Barons held an outdoor skating get together for fans in the downtown Oklahoma City area. Amidst the rebirth of that particular portion of the city, and the shadow of the nearly completed Devon Tower in the background, a good smattering of faithful hockey followers had an opportunity to hang out with their favorite minor league faces.
Magnus Paajarvi, recently sent to the farm from Edmonton, was in attendance. There was the steady up and comer, Teemu Hartikainen. Yann Danis showed up with his new baby. Uncomfortable with the situation at first, it didn’t take long for the group to gel well with the fans who were eager to snap a photo and carry on conversations.
Good friend of this site, and the aim of the “Where’s Rob Ferguson?” game that goes on in my head, Rob Ferguson was on hand to snap some photos of the day. And in one quick jump of the lens, he captured the greatest Barons picture to date.
You’d expect it to be of an incredible Danis glove save. Or maybe a Jake Taylor mix up in the corner. Or maybe it was a Plante cross-check that the refs missed, but the camera caught. Or maybe it was a Magnus Paajarvi wing wrister. No, instead it was a laid back photo that embodied both the aspects of why AHL hockey exists — a city and its prospects.
Two of those prospects, with lots riding on their career development, were caught in a “bro” moment of epic proportions. Curtis Hamilton wrapped one arm around Tyler Pitlick with the ongoing construction of the Devon Tower in the background, and a slew of Oklahomans nearby. For an area of Oklahoma that has always had potential, but only recently has been full realized — this was simply an amazing shot.
The progress of Oklahoma City from cow town to NBA Finals host is quite remarkable. And the story of hockey has taken a similar route. From great history, to no team, to CHL, to no team, to AHL at its finest. And perhaps unintentionally, Mr. Ferguson captured a city-wide resurgence in one vertically shot photo.
There have been many photos that I have really enjoyed over the two years of AHL hockey in Oklahoma City. Some were taken by fans, others by professionals, others by the players themselves (much love twitter), but in the end a summation of both city and organization in one photo is a remarkable thing to achieve. And somehow, in some way, I think the picture to the left has done just that.