This is Kelly Buchberger (a loooooooooooong time ago). Thousands of fans screamed “take ‘em wide Bucky!” at Northlands for years, and for a time Kelly Buchberger and “has a heart as big as all outdoors” seemed tied together like peanut butter and jam.
Kelly Buchberger’s fame in this city far eclipsed his actual ability and since he lasted so long after the golden era (Buchberger was the last active connection to those wonderful days) there were many nights when the Oilers were down two or more after the first when Bucky was the single most interesting thing happening.
He showed up every night and gave effort, plus he was a useful player (but less useful on a team that couldn’t use him in the playoffs since they weren’t getting there) when the team was competitive (80s and then later in the late 90s).
Seems to me the Oilers have lost a lot of character in the last 12 months. Ryan Smyth, Jason Smith and some of us are a little concerned Shawn Horcoff may be headed out when the Lowe blockbuster (version 2.0) happens in the next 7 weeks.
The next great Oiler (character division) can’t be a bigtime free agent like Sheldon Souray, or a an incoming player of quality like Pitkanen (he was traded for Smith for crying out loud). No, the next Bucky would have to be from that group of players who know what it’s like to battle in the corner, to block a shot, to have a breakaway and miss the net by 20 feet, to hear the fans scream “take ‘em wide” even though they know the feet cannot cash the cheque the fans have written.
Blind adoration. Stories that can be added onto until they become legend. Who will carry the torch now that Toby Petersen is gone?
- Zach Stortini: We love our tough guys, and even though it’s not certain he’s a enforcer (according to hockey fights he had only 1 win and two draws among his 7 NHL fights last season) he didn’t back down in his 29 games so might have that Sean Brown “hey at least he stood up for his teammate” appeal.
- Jarret Stoll: He was already becoming the favorite young forward on the team, and now that the fanbase spent the summer fretting over his health a gritty season and 25 goals should elevate him to legendary status.
- Mathieu Roy: He’s got some jam, and there’s already one story out there that makes him a legend (he was PISSED at getting sent out. I love that). He’s a long shot to make the club but will stand out as a heart and soul guy should he make the Oilers.
- JF Jacques: Assuming he scores a point before the end of the decade, I think Oilers fans may warm up to him. A truly unique set of skills (huge player, some skill, freight train hitter and as a bonus appears to be making an effort to bring back the “rover” position) will get him noticed should he, well, you know, actually do something.
- Andrew Cogliano: We like our speed demons PLUS the jackass scouting staff came up with the humorous “he’s Todd Marchant only skilled” tag for this kid. If he’s the forechecker he’s supposed to be, then time on the PK is possible and Oilers fans love an effective penalty killer.
Did I miss anyone? Schremp?