In a recent revelation by Sportsnet insider and NHL analyst Elliotte Friedman, an intriguing story has emerged regarding the intense Battle of Alberta playoff series between the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames two seasons ago. According to Friedman, an Oilers player, who requested anonymity, disclosed to him that part of their motivation during the series was to actually break up the Flames if they emerged victorious.
During an appearance on The Jeff Marek Show, Friedman shared that the player reached out to him via text, revealing that the Oilers rallied around the possibility of dismantling their provincial rivals if they managed to defeat them in the Battle of Alberta series in 2022. This surprising revelation adds a new dimension to the heated rivalry between the two teams.
These revelations come at a time when reports have surfaced that key players such as Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Mikael Backlund, and Noah Hanifin, among potentially others, have informed the Flames organization that they do not intend to re-sign with the team. These developments follow the departure of Johnny Gaudreau in free agency last summer and Matthew Tkachuk’s successful trade request that sent him to the Florida Panthers. Additionally, both the coach and general manager have undergone changes, with Brad Treliving assuming the role of GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Darryl Sutter being relieved of his duties.
Friedman explained that he initially had an off-the-record conversation with an Oilers player, and it was more than a year later that the player felt comfortable enough to share the story. The player conveyed that the Oilers had made it a rallying cry to potentially break up the Flames. It appears that Edmonton’s ambition went beyond simply defeating Calgary—they aimed to dismantle that particular version of the team. Friedman suggests that elite players strive not only to win but to dominate and humiliate their opponents, leaving no room for mercy. It isn’t always just about winning, but how badly you can decimate your opponent, leaving lasting scars as you move on.
Apparently, Mission Accomplished
Considering the exodus that has already taken place in Calgary and what looks to be at least two or three more key pieces going out the door, it appears the Oilers were successful in their mission. While there are other contributing factors that necessitated the changes that are happening right now with the Flames organization, some will fairly argue that the root of all the changes stems back to that series. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Flames and a huge high for the Oilers, sending both teams in opposite directions.
The revelation sheds light on the fierce competition and deep-rooted animosity between the two Alberta-based teams. The Battle of Alberta continues to captivate fans with its intensity, and this behind-the-scenes insight adds another layer to the storied rivalry. It will be fascinating to see if that rivalry sustains itself considering the Flames roster looks like it could be completely overhauled.
If the Oilers move on to compete for the Stanley Cup and the Flames undergo a rebuild, this will be a storyline that hangs over the rivalry for years.
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