It's nearly time for the silly season of free agency again, when NHL general managers will open their owners' wallets and spread money around like confetti. Inevitably, free agents will receive and reject offers from the Oilers. This message is to them, and to people who feel down on the City of Edmonton because some players don't sign here.
Aside from being the capital of Alberta and Canada's sixth-largest metropolitan area,
Edmonton is also:
- Home to the river valley, which is the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America and 22 times larger than New York City's Central Park. A small part of it is pictured above.
- A city with a GDP of $44.1 billion (2007), and boasts one of the most diverse economies in Canada. The city has burgeoning technology and life-science sectors and is known for exceptional environmental stewardship. The Financial Times publication FDi Magazine judged Edmonton to have the best economic potential of any North American city.
- A major research and education centre, with the renowned University of Alberta and the recently constructed National Institute for Nanotechnology, which is one of the top nanotechnological institutes in the world. The U of A boasts Canada's second-largest research library. Edmonton's various post-secondary institutions see hundreds of thousands of enrollments.
- The home of West Edmonton Mall, which is North America's largest and the 13th-largest in the world. It is home to more than 800 stores, services and attractions.
- A place with an ever-improving downtown, which has the Winspear Centre (one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in Canada), the Citadel Theatre (one of the largest in the country), and the Art Gallery of Alberta and it's 6000+ works of art. As we all know, a $450 million arena complex is in the works as well, and will be one of the finest facilities in the league, if not the world, upon completion.
- The site of the Royal Alberta Museum, Fort Edmonton Park, and the Telus World of Science. The latter contains Canada's largest planetarium dome, and there are plans in the works that would see the entire facility triple in size.
- The Festival City, with events ranging from the Street Performer's Festival featuring performers from around the world; Capital Ex; the Canadian Finals Rodeo (a major event in the circuit); the Fringe Festival, which is the second-largest of its kind in the world. Others include the Folk Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Heritage Festival and International Film Festival. The Edmonton Indy is also a major annual event.
- The location of the University of Alberta Hospital, which is one of Canada's leading health science centres and treats over 700,000 patients annually. The upcoming Edmonton Clinic has been called the "Mayo Clinic of the North," and is slated for completion later this year. The Stollery Children's Hospital is one of the finest facilities of its kind in North America, providing a variety of specialty services to children in need.
Why should anyone care about this? What does it have to do with hockey?
By the time a player reaches the age of Unrestricted Free Agency, they're usually at a point in life where they have other things on their mind than the night life. Incidentally, that night life isn't too shabby when the whole city treats you like a rock star. Sure, the young stars that the Oilers draft will be interested in the party scene on their time off, which works out well for them because Edmonton and Calgary are the only two NHL cities with a drinking age of 18. But for a player with a family in tow, these other considerations can be more important.
Edmonton may not be of the calibre of some other major North American cities, but it has a lot going for it and it is investing in its own future. These are just some of the many amazing things about the City of Edmonton, which has come a long way in only 108 years. Read more here. Add all that to a group of rising young Oilers stars, and this isn't such a bad place to be for a hockey player.
If only we didn't have that damn winter.