Reason #84 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Oil Kings

By Emil Tiedemann

It seemed like an eternity since the Oilers had qualified for the playoffs, let alone bring home that ever-elusive Stanley Cup. But, Edmonton is a hockey town and we’ll support our team no matter how much they “suck” at times. 

Fortunately, with some new management, a streak of #1 draft picks (namely Connor McDavid!), and a brand new arena on the horizon, the Oilers began to turn things around by the start of the 2015-16 season, a quarter of a century since their last of five Stanley Cup wins. 



However, it didn’t last long. In the meantime, if we wanted some good local hockey, many of us turned elsewhere. The Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings made sure we remembered what hockey was all about, and why we were still the “City of Champions,” despite the Oilers’ and the Eskimos’ lengthy losing streaks. 

In 2012, our Oil Kings were victors of the WHL Championship, made the finals the following season, and then won it again in 2014. That same year, they defeated Guelph for the Memorial Cup Final. Not too bad for a team that didn’t even join the league until 2006. Well technically, the current Oil Kings are a fourth generation WHL team here in Edmonton, preceded by the Oil Kings of 1951-76, the Oil Kings of 1978-79, and the Edmonton Ice from 1996-98. 
 
The Oil Kings were the WHL's champs of 2014.


This latest incarnation has proven a welcome distraction from when our Oilers aren’t doing so good, and have earned a respectable fan base who fill up thousands of seats at Rexall Place during Oil Kings’ home games. But those home games, or any Oil Kings game for that matter, almost didn’t happen. Intrigued by the success Calgary and Vancouver were having with their major junior teams, and Edmonton’s noticeable absence from the WHL, the Oilers’ ownership group spent several years trying to purchase a new franchise for the city. 

Their offers capped out at $5 million, well beyond market value, but still no luck. That is until March 16, 2006, when the group assumed ownership of the team we now know today. They premiered during the 2007-08 WHL season, but were unable to crack the playoffs that first time out. But they made seven of the next eight playoff seasons (from 2008-16), and restored a sense of hometown hockey pride that may have been waning in Edmonton as of late. For that, we thank you, Oil Kings! #oilkings

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