Edmonton businesses, fans cheered by playoff run

AJAY BHARDWAJ AND KRISTEN VERNON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

Playoff-starved Edmonton Oiler fans - and local businesses -- are in a party mood as their beloved hockey heroes prepare for their first post-season run since 2003.

"Oh my God, it's big," said Doug Munro, co-owner of Mo's Sports Parlour on Calgary Trail. "It'll be packed in here every game, especially after there was no hockey last year.

"There's nothing better than playoff hockey ... especially when your team's in it," said Munro.

Munro estimated sales triple during the playoffs when the Oilers are in the race for the Stanley Cup.

"I'm a big Oilers fan but I was really cheering for them because last year could have done a lot of people in," he said.

Winger Ales Hemsky sped down the right side Thursday night, took a pass from Jarret Stoll and then slipped a shot by Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 33.3 seconds left in the game to lift the Oilers to a 2-1 win.

The Copper and Blue were helped out by the San Jose Sharks, who beat Vancouver to eliminate the Canucks from the playoffs and give the Oilers the last playoff qualifying spot in the Western Conference.

"I think it's great for the city. It's great for the bars," said 38-year-old Chris Puls, who manages the manufacturing division of a pharmaceutical firm.

"I think the city would have been in a foul mood if they hadn't made it."

The National Hockey League suspended last season during a bitter contract dispute between players and owners.

The lockout hurt business, including Munro's, a favourite for sports enthusiasts to sit back, have a cool one and cheer their teams to victory.

"With the weather so good, it doesn't take long for a guy to lose interest," Munro said.

Munro's hoping the Oilers didn't just earn a stay of execution by making the playoffs. Pundits already say the team could meet a quick end, given they could play league-leading Detroit or the stingy Dallas Stars.

But there's always hope.

"If we could do something like the Calgary run (to the Stanley Cup finals two years ago), it would be big," Munro said.

"I think they have the ability to do some damage in the playoffs," said Jody Zalapski, a 24-year-old cellular phone sales associate.

"With the possible exception of the goaltender, I believe the team is solid from top to bottom."

"It's great for the city," said Hosik Shin, director of rooms at the Westin Hotel, adding he's hopeful out-of-town fans make the effort to get to Rexall Place for home games.


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