By every right, the Edmonton Oilers should be my favourite NHL team. I was born April 16, 1991 in the city of champions. That same day, the Oilers played one of the best game in their history (Esa Tikkanen scored the OT winner in a game 7 against the Calgary Flames). I grew up to my dad, an Oilers fan himself, telling me stories of their dynasty years (he was living in Edmonton as a PhD student at the University of Alberta during the late 80's/early 90's). My eldest brother adopted the blue and orange. When my family moved to BC, I got to miss school to go on road trips to watch regular season Oilers games in Edmonton. My first professional work experience was a 4 month internship with the Oilers web team in 2011.
Myself, my eldest brother, and my dad in 2010.
So how did a girl born in Edmonton, growing up in Western Canada, with a family loyal to Oil Country, someone who has a storybook history with the team, end up an Ottawa Senators fan?
It's the most innocent of stories. My dad was watching Hockey Night in Canada, the Sens were playing, I laughed every time the commentators said Radek Bonk (his name was amusing to me), and by the end of the game the Sens won. I'm not sure how old I was when that happened. I'm only 50% sure it was the year the Sens made their first Eastern Conference Finals (2003, I would have been 12). In any case, at that point I decided the Senators were the team I would cheer for.
After the 2004/2005 lockout, I got full into hockey. I started watching TSN religiously, I learned the players, I learned what icing and offside was; I even learned what two line passes were even though they weren't relevant anymore. All the while, the Ottawa Senators were the team I devoted that effort to. A seemingly innocent act, laughing at a hockey player name a few years prior, solidified my ties with a team (so hipster of me, even back then). I was cheering for an Ontario team I had no real reason to cheer for. Somehow, they eclipsed the deep ties the Edmonton Oilers had dug into me.
Classic Alfie jersey with the Cup during a 2012 All Star Game fan event
But the Oilers never left me. While I had a few years of following the Pittsburgh Penguins because of Sid the Kid hype, deep down if a team would be my #2, it had to be the Oilers. My history with the city and the team was too strong. Sports aside, my family used to do the 8 hour drive from Prince George, BC to Edmonton, AB every summer. I call the friends my parents have in Edmonton my aunts and uncles. Every memory I have in that city is one of joy. When I got my internship with the Oilers, it seemed like coming full circle to the city that had given me so much. Of course Edmonton would give me this opportunity, it always had.
My first media pass when I worked with the Oilers. Fittingly enough, it was a game vs the Sens.
Over the years though, I've realized Ottawa too has given me more than I could ask for. I have degrees from both Carleton University and Algonquin College (I chose CU only partially because of the Sens). I met my husband here. I just celebrated 5 years working for a company that was founded in the nation's capital. I bought a house. I've made lifelong friends. During the Senators' 2007 run for the Cup, the Sens Mile (Elgin Street) was only pictures and videos for me. Today, I'm on the Sens Mile every day because I work there. A city that I became connected with only because of a hockey team, has now become so much more than that. I call Ottawa home, and I intend to keep it that way.
With the Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Oilers able to do the same in the West, I feel as if both teams are fulfilling something for me. Out west, I'm watching a team that revives nothing but good memories from my youth. Out east, I'm watching a celebration of a city I've learned to call my own. Edmonton was my city of growth. Ottawa is my city of maturity. I can't talk about my life without mentioning the impact both places have made on me. I would not be where I am today if not for what both these cities have given me.
To see the Senators and Oilers succeed at the same time fills me with immense pride and joy. Because of everything these cities have provided for me, I can't help but feel that this success is what both cities deserve. If the hockey Gods are kind and they meet in the Stanely Cup Finals, I will be cheering for Ottawa (I always have). But a part of me will cherish everything Edmonton has done for me and I will celebrate every one of their successes.
Today, someone said to me "I don't know who you are." It was a joke, but it was because I was wearing a Senators jersey one day, and an Oilers jersey the day after. To answer that question: I'm a Senators fan first, Oilers fan second. But for the cities themselves, Ottawa and Edmonton are me. Both have done so much for me in my life, and I will represent both forever because of it.