We spend a hell of a lot of our lives waiting. When we’re kids we wait…cleats, jersey and all…for or our mom to pick us up from practice in some thousand pound station wagon whose headlights we can still picture two decades later. Then we wait patiently…or not…to turn 16 and get unleashed on the roads. Most of us couldn’t wait to turn 21 and get legally cleared to stroll through a bar…and some of us have damn good stories to show for that impatience.
Waiting characterizes so many of our most human relationships. We wait for the right chance to ask the girl out, wait for the moment to make the first move and then wait to call or text after a great night when we when home smitten.
We wait to relay bad news to the people we’re dying to impress…bosses, parents, friends. We delay bad conversations…we force waiting for others…when we know bad news is coming our way.
“This doesn’t work for me any more”
“We’ve decided to go in a different direction”
This pattern of delay, of patience, it’s a trying thing. How long do you sit there before you do something drastic? …before you fly off the handle, grab someone by the throat and demand answers? …before you walk out of the room raving like a man…arms flailing and voice squealing like a flat tire in a parking garage…who’s been pushed past his limit? How long before you force the situation, before you force their hand, before you force a response?
Edmonton is a town that has been waiting for a hell of a long time. They’re a fanbase that’s seen the absolute best that hockey has had to offer. Some of the greatest names collected in matching sweaters have donned the blue, orange and white. There was no waiting back in those days. Mess, Gretz, Kurri, Fuhr…immediate gratification, utter elation.
The names on the sweaters look different now.
The fanbase…you have to believe…is growing weary and frustrated. They’re being forced to wait while the “future of the franchise” develops in hopes they can build from the 45 point catfish they are today to a legitimate contender. They’ve planted the serrano in the pot. They’re hovering over it, looking for a sprout…something promising…anything hopeful…to validate that they’re on the right path…to press out those thoughts that they’ll serve eternity as some wasteland for busted promises and discussions about how great shit was “before they shipped off…”
Of their five first round picks in the last half-decade, they’ve snagged two #1 prospects (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall), a 6 (Sam Gagner), a 10 (Magnus Paajarvi) and a 22 (Jordan Eberle). That is an absolute haul. It’s a ridiculous bounty. Every year, the draft brings teams that sense of optimism, of rebirth, of growth. In Edmonton though, they’ve been waiting…banking on that growth, that optimism…for a bit too long. They’ve seen glimpses. The caught a flash of it on Thursday when Gagner went off for an unreal 8 points.
…but a man wonders how long the overall posture of patience…of waiting…can hold up for a franchise that’s tasted what it’s like at the top. My guess? Not long.
There’s one man tonight in Edmonton who’s done waiting. Conks has sat there all season taking the scraps off the table while Jimmy T Howard ran away with all the wins, pretty women, drugs and fast cars. Tonight Jimmy’s on the sofa. Conks gets his shot…maybe two in a row…to prove his mettle…to show up big and put down a marker…to quiet the critics who say we need to shore up his seat, swap him out for a more able body.
One man done waiting. We’ll see where this gets us.