Edmonton Oilers alumni salute the fans during the closing ceremonies at Rexall Place (Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
The Edmonton Oilers said goodbye to Rexall Place, their home arena of 42 years, with a fantastic ceremony following the Oilers’ 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Legendary Oilers Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Grant Fuhr were among the roughly 150 alumni on hand.
For 42 years, the Edmonton Oilers have called Rexall Place home, but Wednesday night saw the team play their final game in the building that was formerly known as Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton Coliseum and Skyreach Centre.
The past several seasons haven’t been the most successful in Oilers’ history, of that there’s no doubt, but the teams who have called Rexall Place home over the past four decades have made some memories that will last a lifetime.
On ice, the Oilers sent the building off in style with a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, but that was only the beginning of the celebrations. Following the game, nearly 150 alumni trotted back out onto the Rexall Place ice to take part in a post-game closing ceremony for the arena, with legendary Oilers such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr among those in attendance.
One of the final moments in the building was a touching video tribute to all the great moments the building has seen, with everything from Edmonton’s first Stanley Cup victory to the magical 2006 run to the Cup final packed into the four-minute video:
And while the video tribute was one of the final moments in the building, it was hard to top Joey Moss — a longtime member of the training staff — removing the banner that signified the final game at Rexall Place. Moss has been with the Oilers since the 1984-85 campaign, and was part of the team for four of their five Stanley Cup victories. Beloved by both fans and players, there couldn’t have been a better choice to carry the banner off the ice:
In talking about Rexall Place, Gretzky called it one of the greatest arenas to play in, citing the fan support, atmosphere and the ice surface, which has often been heralded as one of the best in the entire league.
"Like anything in life, change is part of life," Gretzky told NHL.com’s Derek Van Diest. "When the Montreal Forum went down and the Maple Leaf Gardens went down, it proved anything is possible. Moving into a new era with some unreal and great memories of Rexall Place, and now moving into [the] new arena, hopefully [the Oilers] can make some new and wonderful memories.”
Next season, the Oilers will open up Rogers Place, their brand new arena, and hope to usher in a new era. And if Rogers Place sees anywhere near the success of Rexall Place, Oilers fans will be over the moon.