Oilers fans home and abroad hope for return to glory in Stanley Cup finals

Mike Taufer, John Liska, and Patrick Moran were all in Florida on Saturday to see Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. (Kory Siegers/CBC - image credit)
Mike Taufer, John Liska, and Patrick Moran were all in Florida on Saturday to see Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. (Kory Siegers/CBC - image credit)

With the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup final for the first time in almost 20 years, fans both home and abroad are hoping the team can return some of that old school hockey shine to the City of Champions.

Oilers take on the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of the playoff final series this Saturday. The last time the team won a cup was in 1990 while the last time a Canadian team brought it north of the border was 1993.

Despite the enormous distance between Edmonton and Sunrise, Fla., — some 5,000 kilometres — fans of the orange and blue have made it out to witness hockey history.

John Liska bought a ticket to Florida right after the Oilers beat the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

He's been a fan since birth.

"All we did was win Stanley Cups until I was 10 years old," he said Saturday.

Despite living in Florida now, Liz Schaut remains a staunch Edmonton Oilers fan.
Despite living in Florida now, Liz Schaut remains a staunch Edmonton Oilers fan.

Despite living in Florida now, Liz Schaut remains a staunch Edmonton Oilers fan. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

His friend, Mike Taufer, was born in Edmonton but now lives in Florida — he was sporting hometown colours outside Amerant Bank Arena.

"Edmonton has a challenge like they did with Dallas. But they got through it," Taufer said.

Liz Schaut is another Edmonton expat who has kept the faith alive, even though she only usually sees her team play in person once a year.

"We're kind of crazy from Edmonton, we like to show our team up," she said Saturday, bedecked in orange hair and a gleaming silver cowboy hat.

She says Panthers fans shouldn't get any special sympathy just because their team lost in the final last year.

"I'm still heartbroken from '06," she said, referencing the last time the Oilers made it this far in the Cup series.

Andrew Greenhaus flew down to the sunshine state from his hometown in Long Island. He became an Oilers fan after a chance meeting with Wayne Gretzky in 1988.

"Gretzky was my guy as a kid," he said. Greenhaus had snuck into the coliseum in Long Island and ran into Barrie Stafford, who was a trainer at the time.

Andrew Greenhaus and his son came from Long Island, N.Y., to watch the Edmonton Oilers play the Florida Panthers.
Andrew Greenhaus and his son came from Long Island, N.Y., to watch the Edmonton Oilers play the Florida Panthers.

Andrew Greenhaus and his son came from Long Island, N.Y., to watch the Edmonton Oilers play the Florida Panthers. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

He says Stafford invited him to stay and help clean up the locker room then invited him to the game the next day. It was the beginning of a lifelong love for the Oilers.

Greenhaus brought his son, who had never been to a Stanley Cup game, to witness what he hopes is a repeat of the 1984 team — years of struggle ushering in a new golden age.

"I feel this team has really earned it. I think they're going to get it done."