Oil Change skates back

Oil Change is back on Sportsnet. Entering its fourth season (third on Sportsnet), the series has developed a cult following across the continent.
Watch for it Sunday, Oct. 20. If the American League baseball game 7 doesn’t happen (or if it ends on time), this season’s Oil Change premiere will air at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific. Baseball’s game 7 would move Oil Change all the way to 1 a.m. nationally (meaning all channels: East, Ontario, West and Pacific).
There will be replays Sunday at 9 p.m. Mountain Time on the West channel, and at 9 p.m. Pacific Time on the Pacific channel.
And, of course, there will be replays throughout, until Episode 2 comes along in November.
This season’s Oil Change opener will have its plate full with events that happened since that fateful day when the Edmonton Oilers missed the playoffs. On April 13, they had drubbed their arch-enemy, the Calgary Flames, and were sitting pretty. It would take just a dozen days for them to lose the next five games and be out of it, no questions asked.
Next thing we knew, general manager Steve Tambellini has become a former general manager, with Craig MacTavish taking over.
Oil Change’s first segment will concentrate on the wild days, weeks and months that followed.
To begin with, MacTavish announced he was impatient and all and sundry should expect some pretty bold moves. Luckily, he didn’t specify when those bold moves would be forthcoming.
But come they did, and most of them were not really expected.
With head coach Ralph Krueger’s support and understanding, MacTavish started looking for an associate coach. He found a kindred soul in Dallas Eakins and realized he was talking to a full-time coach, not an associate. That was the end of Ralph Krueger.
In short order, the Oilers would choose Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound Darnell Nurse of Hamilton, Ont., with the seventh pick at the NHL Entry Draft. That would be the first time Edmonton took a d-man with their first pick since 1989 when they picked another Hamilton native, Jason Soules, 15th overall. Soules’s NHL record is perfectly clean, as he never made it. What about Nurse? Future will tell.
But the summer fever didn’t stop there. Captain Shawn Horcoff went to Dallas. The Oilers’ 2009 first round draft pick Magnus Paajarvi went to St. Louis, both through trades. Gone were also pending UFA’s such as Ryan Whitney, Nikolai Khabibulin and Theo Peckham. The Oilers have gone out to pick up several players they are describing as significant. Free Agency brought them defenceman (and new captain) Andrew Ference, centre Boyd Gordon and back-up netminder Jason LaBarbera. The Horcoff trade delivered defenceman Philip Larsen, while Paajarvi’s departure resulted in the arrival of winger David Perron. By summer’s end, almost half of the roster had changed.
Oil Change tracks the team’s busy summer and follows the Oilers into a much-anticipated September training camp. It shows pitched battles for jobs on the blueline and third and fourth lines. Highlights of camp include the sparkling play of rookie d-man Nurse and several other young propects, a move by star winger Taylor Hall to centre as the club’s number one pivot Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is still rehabbing from last spring’s shoulder surgery, and the emerging on and off-ice leadership of former Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference.
The first episode culminates as camp and the exhibition season close. It shows how coach Eakins had to approach some difficult final roster decisions. The Oilers sell out their regular season opening night game at Rexall Place against the Winnipeg Jets.

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