Mourning sunshine

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

A moment's silence for the Edmonton Eskimos, please. There. That's long enough. Go, Oilers, Go.

That's the way it's going to be here.

Heck, that's the way it was two hours after the Eskimos gagged on their last life against Toronto and had their 34-year record of making the playoffs expire.

Local sports bars, which were anything but full for an Oiler game during Eskimos season last year, were packed Saturday night to watch a telecast from Colorado. It was like the playoffs last year.

It's clear that there will be no long period of mourning for the Esks. That was done during their sorry season.

Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium was the funeral.

Life goes on.

And the thing to think about today is that it's never gone on quite like this before in the City of Champions, the Heartland of Hockey.

I mean, think about it.

SPORTS STAGE

Even back in the days of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe, the Oilers never really owned the Edmonton sports stage and sports pages until after the Grey Cup.

The majority of Oiler games that haven't been sold out have been during the Eskimos' season.

In all of the history of the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the event which brings more business to Edmonton than any other, was back-of-the-sports-section stuff because it was held in the wrong spot on the calendar because of the football playoffs.

Not this year.

Football season is over.

The sports stage is the biggest thing the Edmonton Eskimos are in danger of losing because of what happened this year.

The job ahead of Eskimos president Rick LeLacheur in the off-season is to keep the Esks market-place status.

It's massive if this is going to go down as nothing more than a hiccup.

Other CFL cities haven't had, year in and year out, what the Eskimos have had here. And the football franchise picked the wrong year to have this happen.

The biggest crime about the Eskimos season this year is there was zero entertainment at Commonwealth Stadium. It was no fun to go to games.

That's the biggest contrast with the Oilers, as they become the show, the whole show and nothing but the show.

It is quite clear just four games into the season that, as predicted, but never really believed until you start to see it for real in the regular season, this is going to be a fun team to watch.

They're going to score a lot of goals and win a lot of games.

Four games into the season and almost all the heebee-jeebies about the loss of Chris Pronger on defence have disappeared.

The fans have already seen the future with 20-year-old defenceman Ladislav Smid.

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They already like the looks of veteran ex-Minnesota Wild defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist, who came recommended by goaltender Dwayne Roloson and become the Oilers ice-time leader in minutes played with a 24:53 average.

The fans have already moved on.

They are celebrating the players who want to be here, be here for a long time and win a Cup here.

It was no fun watching the Eskimos this year.

It was no fun watching a 34-year record in ruins Saturday.

But Canada's greatest sports city won't have a bit of trouble moving on. Not with this other team in town.


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