TULSA, OK–Taylor Hall can’t stop talking about the buzz surrounding the Tulsa Oilers on the eve of the new season, which opens tomorrow night against the Wichita Thunder in the amazing BOK Center.
“There’s a different feel to things this year,” Hall said, “With all the changes that happened over the summer, Oilers fans are going to see a very different team this season.” Two major developments over the off season, the merger with 5 former International Hockey League (IHL) teams changed the landscape of the Central Hockey League dramatically.
Then comes the affiliations. About an month ago, the Oilers announced that they are going to be the Central Hockey League affiliates of the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters, based in Cleveland, Ohio and the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. The affiliation is the first for Tulsa since the 1992 re-incarnation of the CHL and the first since the team was aligned with the New York Rangers in the mid-1980s.
Hall said that the affiliation will work much like the arrangement the Rockies have with the Tulsa Drillers in baseball. “The biggest benefit of the agreement is that our guys are going to be getting serious looks from the scouts in Colorado,” Hall said, “For example, one of the Avalanche top prospects is goalie Trevor Cann, and he’s assigned to Lake Erie. They assigned him to Tulsa because they don’t want him sitting on the bench.
“There’s a chance that Colorado may send us a player on a rehab assignment as well,” Hall continued, “All of this adds up to what might be a huge year for the Oilers. We had been doing things one way for so long and it was time for a change. We felt that it was the right time so we decided to see where this might take us.”
Taylor Hall was a member of the now-legendary 1993 Tulsa Oilers CHL Championship team, playing 4 seasons with the club through the mid-90s. He has a strong desire to bring the magic and excitement that the 1993 squad had back to Tulsa. So too does Coach Bruce Ramsay, who put together a 2009-10 squad that posted the second best point improvement of all the CHL teams last year.
This season presents the second year coach with new challenges. “The goal is always to win championships, “ Coach Ramsay said, “That’s what it’s all about and that’s what people remember. If that’s not your goal you’re in the wrong business.”
The Oilers will begin the 2010-11 season at home facing the Wichita Thunder, a long-time rival. The teams split their preseason home-and-home series and look to renew the rivalry that dates back to the original six-team 1992-93 season. Tickets are on sale at the BOK Center box office or by calling 632-PUCK (7825)