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12:32 am EDT 64°F (18°C) in Ruther Glen, VA
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It always seems like I intend to only let this thing go a few days between updates, but then life gets in the way and it turns into six days. Oh well, what the hell can I do.
Late last Saturday night, I got back home to retrieve the rest of my truck-related belongings. Obviously, at that late hour, I wasn’t going to do anything until Sunday, so I just mostly watched a couple hours of TV. I happened across the CBC affiliate from Windsor, and the re-run they were showing that night of Game 4 of the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals between the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins. It was really amazing how the last few minutes of a hockey game that took place 18 years ago brought back a ton of old memories of my childhood.
For those who don’t remember the history, the Oilers ended up sweeping the Bruins in the Finals that year, although there was an interesting anomaly with the series. The fourth game had originally been scheduled for Tuesday, May 24, 1988, at the now-razed Boston Garden; it was tied at three goals each when, just before a face-off with 3:23 remaining in the second period, a 4,000-volt surge fried a Garden transformer and put the whole arena in the dark. When arena workers were unable to fix the problem, the game was cancelled and the decision was made to reverse the sites of Games 4 and 5; Game 4 would be re-played Thursday, May 26 at the Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton. (Had the Bruins won Game 4, Game 5 would have been played back in Boston, rather than its originally scheduled location of Edmonton, on Saturday, May 28.) In any event, the Oilers won the completed Game 4 by a 6-3 score to bring the Stanley Cup back to Alberta for the fourth time in five seasons.
I was eight years old at the time this game was played, and I would have been finishing up the second grade. My second-grade teacher had all of her students keep journals that she read and occasionally commented on, and I can distinctly remember mentioning the Boston Garden power outage and resulting game cancellation in said journal, even including a crude illustration of a thunderstorm and an unlit light bulb as if to underscore the power outage. (Yes, even then, I was a total geek. ) I can remember having the kind of hatred for the Oilers back then that I have now for King Chimpy, Rethuglicans, and other assorted Reich-wingers; as a young and passionate Detroit Red Wings fan, I hated the Oilers for taking the Red Wings out in the Campbell Conference final every year. (The Wings would breeze through the Norris Division semifinals and final only to go down in flames against the Oilers — it happened God-only-knows how many times in the 1980s.)
At first, when I tuned in, I wasn’t sure if the game was from the 1988 or 1990 Stanley Cup Finals, because the Oilers and Bruins also met in the Finals in 1990. However, once I saw a certain well-known #99 in the Oilers’ familiar blue and orange, I knew it had to be 1988 — two and a half months after that game, on August 9, 1988, Wayne Gretzky would be sent to the Los Angeles Kings in one of the biggest trades in sports history. This game I caught last Saturday night would be Gretzky’s final game as an Oiler, after nine years in Edmonton.
Seeing that game got me to thinking about Canadian teams in the NHL, and how things have gone way downhill for many of them in the last 10-15 years. The Oilers’ 1988 Stanley Cup was the fifth of seven consecutive Cup wins for Canadian teams; this streak also included the Oilers’ other wins in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1990, the Montreal Canadiens’ 1986 triumph, and the Cup won by the Calgary Flames in 1989. Adding a few years to either side of that streak, Canadian teams won 12 of the 18 Stanley Cups awarded between 1976 and 1993 — those other five all went to the Canadiens, in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1993. However, no Canadian team has won the Cup since 1993, and only three times since 1993 has a Canadian team even been in the Finals: the Vancouver Canucks in 1994; the Flames two years ago; and this year’s Oilers, who trail 3-2 in the series as I type.
Enough of the hockey history. On Sunday, I got all of my stuff into my truck, and by this time, I have most of it where it belongs in the truck. Since then, I have run down here to Virginia, where I delivered about 24 hours ago just outside Richmond, and now I’m headed for the Chicago area for Friday afternoon. I will barely have time to think between now and then, though, so I’d better get this uploaded and get up into Maryland tonight.