If you’re in OKC and you’re a hockey fan, the news of an Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate in your town is met with incredible excitement and fervor. In a city that recently welcomed an NBA franchise, it seemed that hockey was taking a back seat. Fear not! Mr. Funk closes the chapter on the Central League Blazers in favor of a more relevant (and more profitable) AHL team. Even before the first puck drops the excitement is building. Here are a few reasons why YOU need to jump on the OKC Barons bandwagon NOW!
The Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers joined the NHL in 1979 and quickly became a powerhouse in the league winning five Stanley Cups in only 7 years. Dubbed the “Dynasty Years”, the Oilers saw many future Hall of Famers glide across their rink. The likes of Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jacques Plante firmly nestled the Edmonton team into the upper echelons of NHL play. And although they struggled through most of the 90’s, the team surprised everyone by making it to the Cup Finals in 2006. What a historic team! Take pride in being affiliated with one of the most successful NON-original six teams.
Up & Coming Players
Picking first in the NHL entry draft is a great thing only if you pick carefully. Ironically, the crop of young up and comers in this years entry draft all could find a nice home in Edmonton. But let’s look beyond the BIG team and focus on the up and comers in the AHL. Have you ever heard of Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux? The two combined have 85 goals, 124 assists, and 209 points all accumulated for the Hershey Bears during the 09-10 season. Or how about Cedrick Desjardins who racked up 29 wins and only 9 losses in net for the Hamilton Bulldogs? All of these guys have future NHL written all over them. The OKC Barons haven’t named a coaching staff or listed any rosters, but believe me when I say this, you will see the NHL future from your cozy seat in the Cox Center.
OKC Hockey History
You may not have realized this, but Oklahoma City has celebrated hockey for well over 70 years. The Oklahoma City Warriors of the AHA formed in 1933 where their home rink was at the Stockyard Coliseum (two words that strangely don’t go together). The team moved to Minneapolis after two seasons, but saw the beginnings of what would be a great hockey fan base. Believe it or not, players for the Warriors included Helge Bostrom and Bobby Burns who had lengthy stints with the Chicago Blackhawks. One OKC Warrior player, Frank Ingram, played two and a half seasons for the Hawks and later retired in Edmond, Oklahoma where he died in 1985. Fast forward to 1965 and the birth of the Blazers. Between 1965-1977 the OKC Blazers “farmed” for the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team would later become the OKC Stars for a brief time before returning to the OKC Blazers once the Central League was re-established. Needless to say, Oklahoma City has hockey roots that are firmly planted. Along comes the AHL OKC Barons and the roots go a little deeper.
More Bang For Your Buck
Cheap ticket prices. Great hockey. Mid-week and weekend games. Competitive play. The “close to the action” feel of small buildings. All of these make for a great night on the town. If you’re a casual fan of the game and maybe caught a few Blazers games over the years, be prepared for a better brand of hockey. I, for one, was a huge Blazer fan. I’ll miss those players and teams, but with great talent developing before our eyes in the AHL you can’t help but get more bang for your buck.
Hockey Makes You Cool
No matter how you slice it, AHL, CHL, or NHL, hockey is cool. It’s rough and graceful. Passionate and sincere. No sports fan can deny the fact that hockey is a sport of determination and grit. What better place for such a sport than in Oklahoma City where people understand the pioneer spirit best. We work and play hard. We value community. We stand up for what’s right. We stick with our friends. I’m not one to wax poetic, but the correlation between hockey and the city of OKC is so perfect. And what about those jerseys? Sorry OKC Thunder, the AHL Barons got the cooler logo. Can’t wait to get my swag! Join me and you’ll be cool too.
What do you think? Why do you love hockey in OKC? Any other reasons why people should jump on the OKC Barons bandwagon? Let me hear from you people. Post your comments below.