The Edmonton Oilers have been unacceptably terrible this season. All fans of the club can agree on that. Where they differ, however, is in how to express their anger at management and ownership for this complete and utter trainwreck. The fans have been louder and angrier this year than ever, and on more than one occasion, one has decided to throw a jersey onto the ice.
To some, this is a completely reasonable act of defiance. To others, it's completely unacceptable.
One fan, at least, believed it warranted an apology.
On Saturday, a fan by the name of Jay Brown took out an ad in the Edmonton Journal addressing the Oilers directly. No, he didn't demand they put a product on the ice that can compete. Instead, he apologized for the fans that have been throwing products onto the ice when the team fails to do just that. Read, and be astounded:
Please keep trying your best, and we will try harder to be the fans you deserve.
The closing words of Jay Brown, who feels the need to declare his Canadianism, as though paying for an open letter apologizing to your terrible hockey team for not being a good enough fan didn't give that away.
I wouldn't put it past the Oilers to conjure up a "Jay Brown", but this one is real. He posted the ad over at his Facebook page, spoke of recieving a phone call from Patrick Laforge, the Oilers' COO. According to Brown, LaForge "expressed the gratitude of the players and organization for coming to their defense."
Anyway. This is utter insanity. I would argue that the sweater-throwers, a group at their wit's end after years of watching the same flail and fail, with no end in sight, are the fans the Oilers deserve.
This isn't a matter of acting out after one loss. Oiler fans are acting out after nearly a decade of the same thing. They're furious. They're exhausted. Read, for instance, this excerpt from the remarkable and scathing game recap written by Benjamin Massey after the Oilers' 5-0 loss to the Rangers, the day after this ad ran. From Copper & Blue:
The latest Edmonton Oilers death march is drawing mercifully to a close. We have almost built the bridge for our sadistic captors, the trains are rolling, the monsoon is approaching, all that remains are a few formalities before we are machine-gunned into our shallow graves. Isn't that nice?
It, uh, goes on like that.
I understand the argument that throwing a jersey is some act of desecration, but at this point, is there anything a fan can do to a jersey that's any more shameful or embarrassing than what the Oilers have done to it for the last several years?
"The real fans in this city would never do such a thing," says Brown, in what's become a common refrain. But one wonders who would care enough to do such a thing but a real fan who's still paying to attend Oiler games after all these years, and is sick to death of the way the team rewards his loyalty.