Friday, October 21, 2005

EDMONTON’S COURTESY

Edmonton is in true terms is a hockey city. There are only selected cities where hockey runs in the blood of plays and fans at the same rate of knots and Edmonton is one of them. The recent ceremony which saw the retirement of Paul Coffey's jersey makes it evident that the Edmontonians knows how to honor the game and its stars. The best and only way to portray Edmonton as a hockey city, particularly for those have never become the part of the city's love affair with the game, is to suggest images of a college football Saturday in the Deep South. The pageantry and circumstance that greet the gridiron gladiators in those southern cities has nothing on the goings-on in Edmonton, especially in the days leading up to a big game. As a matter of fact, the city’s festivities during the hockey matches derive a fair amount of civic pride from the Oilers franchise. As such, it is only just that past heroes are respected whole-heartedly and past glories are celebrated with great pomp and show. The retirement of Paul Coffey's No. 7 was magnificent theater — strikingly emotional yet simple. The ceremony started when Coffey emerged to a standing ovation and took a skate around the boards, with his stick held high over his head in his right hand. Intermittently, he tapped the stick against the glass. At the ice he was welcomed by former teammate Kevin Lowe, the current GM of the Oilers. Al Hamilton, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr and Wayne Gretzky. Extempore speeches were given, tears were shed and Coffey’s contributions were recalled. The ovation thundered down as the city welcomed their prodigal son home for the final time. The moments were made very special in a special hockey city elucidating the special bond the city shares with its hockey franchise.

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