EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Outside of Rogers Place Saturday, a light-rail station that normally would be humming with activity on a game day for the Edmonton Oilers sat quietly, a tumbleweed or two from the hot, humid summer wind occasionally blowing across the tracks.
Inside the vast newish arena, one of the fanciest, most amenity-rich in the NHL, the sounds of workers scraping the ice to better-embed the goalposts can easily be heard three concourses up. It’s only a few minutes before the Oilers are to host the Chicago Blackhawks, when normally a sellout crowd of hockey-crazy Edmontonians would be chanting, “Let’s Go Oil!” Outside the building, there are more pigeons surrounding the Wayne Gretzky statue than hockey fans.
It will be in this kind of setting – for potentially as far out as Oct. 2 – that the Colorado Avalanche will pursue the third Stanley Cup in the team’s 25-year history. There won’t be any hometown cheers, nor any road jeers. The atmosphere will be as sterile as one of the several hand-sanitizer stations that dot parts of the building – the ones that have any kind of foot traffic at all, at least.