July 17th, 2024

Disappointed Oilers start off-season by cleaning out lockers

By The Canadian Press on June 26, 2024.

Edmonton Oilers forward Zach Hyman (18), defenceman Darnell Nurse (25) and forward Dylan Holloway (55) react after losing to the Florida Panthers in game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup finals in Sunrise, Fla., on Monday, June 24, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

EDMONTON – Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers started his NHL off-season Tuesday by taking the Stanley Cup for a swim at Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Later this week, he will appear on TV and talk shows, pose for photo ops, and participate in a championship parade and rally.

After a quiet 4,100-kilometre flight home from Sunrise, Fla., the Edmonton Oilers begin their off-season Wednesday by cleaning out lockers at Rogers Place, thinking about how close they came to ending Canada’s Cup drought and experiencing the same highs of Tkachuk and his triumphant teammates.

The Oilers, led by Conn Smythe winner Connor McDavid and new coach Kris Knoblauch, lost Monday’s Game 7 by a final score of 2-1. After trailing the best-of-seven championship series 3-0, the Alberta squad reeled off three straight wins and tried to become the first team since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs to claim a Cup after losing the first three games of the final.

The Oilers, who had a number of chances to tie Game 7 in a wild third period, ran out of gas, puck luck, and time.

Captain McDavid said the loss “really hurt and really sucks.” Leon Draisaitl was in tears. There were ice packs, bandages and bruises everywhere. Players wondered out loud if it was the last time this particular group would have a chance to hoist a Cup together.

The NHL awards show, the draft, and the start of free agency are all scheduled for the immediate days ahead.

The disappointed Oilers, one victory shy of winning it all, can only wish they had a swim day with the Cup on their calendar.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2024.

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