Tag Archives: Aquila Productions

Oil Change closes its season April 20

The times, they are ’a-changin’ … and so are we. If Bob Dylan, the American songwriter, ever thought the idea was his, he could hardly be more wrong. Still, he was right.

What differs is the way we remember changes, no matter how significant or otherwise.

It could be a poem set to music. A song, in other words. A novel of hundreds of pages.

Or, it could be a documentary television series about a professional sports team that shows its viewers that those finely tuned and shaped bodies belong to people with their own minds and emotions.

And that’s what this season’s final installment of Oil Change, the award-winning series about the Edmonton Oilers, will tell us.

It airs on Sportsnet Sunday, April 20, as follows:

  • EAST & ONTARIO – 9 p.m./ET
  • WEST – 9 p.m./MT
  • PACIFIC – 9 p.m./PT

First replays on Monday April 21:

  • EAST & ONTARIO – 12:00 a.m./ET
  • WEST – 12:00 a.m./MT
  • PACIFIC – 12:00 a.m./PT

We can expect more replays on Sportsnet, and on the NHL Network, later on.

With season’s end, it’s time for some reminiscing. In fact, reminiscing helps put matters in perspective.

Let’s begin with this minor fact of major proportions: compared to the same point last year, more than half of this season’s roster has changed. General manager Craig McTavish did, after all, promise that there would be changes galore under his command.

He has been as good as his word, and this installment of Oil Change is documenting it in considerable detail.

Thanks, Smytty

With Ryan Smyth announcing his retirement after all these years, a behind-the-scenes tour of the memory-filled trophy room in Nr. 94’s home delivers a meaning all of his teammates, past and current should remember. Come to think of it, Smyth’s future teammates would do well to keep it in mind, too: he’ll remain an Oiler no matter what, it’s in his blood.

Taylor Hall, captain Andrew Ference, several other key players and MacTavish share some candid and insightful final reflections on this season and next.

A retrospective look at all those who’ve donned an Oilers jersey in the past four seasons of Oil Change forms another chapter of this season’s finale.

This episode starts where the previous one ended: at the trade deadline. Oiler veteran Ales Hemsky (the team’s first-round draft pick in 2003) is gone. So is veteran blueliner Nick Schultz. They were traded to Ottawa and Columbus, respectively, for draft picks. Victor Fasth arrives from Anaheim, to share the goaltending load with Ben Scrivens.

Just to make sure nobody forgets it, fate deals the Oilers a few more blows. Ryan Jones, Jesse Joensuu, Anton Belov, Andrew Ference and Nail Yakupov are all out of the line-up. Injured. One and all.

There are reinforcements coming up from AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick and Will Acton get return trips to Edmonton, while rookie defenceman Oscar Klefbom makes his long-awaited NHL debut and quickly shows he’s not out of his depth up in Edmonton. Except: the OKC Barons are in a tough battle to secure one of the final AHL playoff spots, and the call-ups don’t help he Oilers’ farmers much.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Oil Change will deal with the memories of this season, one that can be called – without any exaggeration – season from hell.

See you in front of your TV Sunday night.

Oil Change offers sneak preview

For those who can’t wait till Sunday, Aquila Productions have set up a sneak preview of Oil Change’s fifth episode that all and sundry can watch right now.

The full show will air Sunday, March 16, thus:

Sportsnet EAST & ONTARIO – 8 p.m./ET

Sportsnet WEST – 8 p.m./MT with an 11 p.m./MT replay

Sportsnet PACIFIC – 6 p.m./PT

Sportsnet will broadcast the first set of repeats Monday, March 17, as follows:

Sportsnet EAST & ONTARIO – 12 a.m./ET

Sportsnet WEST – 9 p.m//MT

What’s the show going to be all about?

The story picks up at the end of the Olympic Games, moving through the trade deadline, and onwards.

The newest episode will go along several tracks.

The first one inspects a development not many outside of the team thought they could expect: the Oilers have begun heating up, and all that amidst one of the harsher winters on record. Yes, any thought of this season’s playoffs seems to be gone, but not the fighting spirit. It may be a sign of things to come next season, but, in any case, the arrival of goalie Ben Scrivens, high-energy forward Matt Hendricks and hard-nosed blueliner Mark Fraser seem to have had more impact than many would have anticipated.

These moves happened even before the Olympic break so, officially, they do not count as trade deadline acquisitions. Except, there was a roster freeze in effect during the Olympic Games, so, why not be a bit more generous, right?

Three Oilers went to Russia: Ales Hemsky to play for the Czechs, Anton Belov for the Russians, and Martin Marincin for the Slovaks. The few games after the Olympic break would be Hemsky’s swan song in Oilers’ silks: he would be gone on trade deadline day.

But the new goalie, Ben Scrivens, would endear himself to the team and its fans even before the break: an NHL-record, 59-save, 3-0 shutout victory over the San Jose Sharks would do that for you.

Oil Change used the Olympic break to send its crew down to Oklahoma City and see how some of the younsgters are doing. They weren’t the only ones to make the trip to see the Barons, the Oilers’ AHL affiliate: general manager Craig MacTavish was on hand, too.

While Oil Change was there to report on the progress of people like Martin Gernat, Oscar Klefbom and Tyler Pitlick, MacTavish’s role was a tad more involved. The idea was for him to see, first-hand, the depth of his organization so he knows what moves he can (and can’t) afford come the trade deadline day.

You can be excused if you hadn’t known, but now you will: the Oilers’ Andrew Ference and David Perron dropped in by the NHL New York office on the club’s day off during their eastern swing, and they got to chat with the commissioner, Gary Bettman, himself.

This episode of Oil Change will take us all the way through the trade deadline day. We’ve all heard the rumours, and we know now what’s actually happened. Thanks to this episode of Oil Change, we’ll know how it happened and why, too.

And while we’ll be digesting the latest documentary by the award-winning (and Edmonton-based) Aquila Productions, they will be hard at work on the next segment.

Such is the life of documentary filmmakers: it doesn’t stop. And neither do they.

Oilers fortunes at a crossroads in Oil Change’s fifth episode

Now that the dust has settled and we know who brought gold from the Olympic Games and who will remain on the Edmonton Oilers’ roster till the end of the season (at least), it’s time to reflect.

The fifth installment of Oil Change will help us do exactly that. It will air on Sportsnet, both on the national and regional networks, Sunday, March 16.

As has become a useful tradition, re-broadcasts will follow.

The newest episode will go along several tracks.

The first one inspects a development not many outside of the team thought they could expect: the Oilers have begun heating up, and all that amidst one of the harsher winters on record. Yes, any thought of this season’s playoffs seems to be gone, but not the fighting spirit. It may be a sign of things to come next season, but, in any case, the arrival of goalie Ben Scrivens, high-energy forward Matt Hendricks and hard-nosed blueliner Mark Fraser seem to have had more impact than many would have anticipated.

These moves happened even before the Olympic break so, officially, they do not count as trade deadline acquisitions. Except, there was a roster freeze in effect during the Olympic Games, so, why not be a bit more generous, right?

Three Oilers went to Sochi, Russia: Ales Hemsky to play for the Czechs, Anton Belov for the Russians, and Martin Marincin for the Slovaks. The few games after the Olympic break would be Hemsky’s swan song as an Oiler: he would be gone on trade deadline day to the Ottawa Senators.

But the new goalie, Ben Scrivens, would endear himself to the team and its fans even before the break: an NHL-record, 59-save, 3-0 shutout victory over the San Jose Sharks would do that for you.

Oil Change used the Olympic break to send its crew down to Oklahoma City and see how some of the younsgters are doing. They weren’t the only ones to make the trip to see the Barons, the Oilers’ AHL affiliate: general manager Craig MacTavish was on hand, too.

While Oil Change was there to report on the progress of people like Martin Gernat, Oscar Klefbom and Tyler Pitlick, MacTavish’s role was a tad more involved. The idea was for him to see, first-hand, the depth of his organization so he knows what moves he can (and can’t) afford come the trade deadline day.

You can be excused if you hadn’t known, but now you will: the Oilers’ Andrew Ference and David Perron dropped in by the NHL New York office on the club’s day off during their eastern swing, and they got to chat with the commissioner, Gary Bettman, himself.

This episode of Oil Change will take us all the way through the trade deadline day. We’ve all heard the rumours, and we know now what’s actually happened. Thanks to this episode of Oil Change, we’ll know how it happened and why, too.

And while we’ll be digesting the latest documentary by the award-winning (and Edmonton-based) Aquila Productions, they will be hard at work on the next segment.

Such is the life of documentary filmmakers: it doesn’t stop. And neither do they.

Oil Change won’t sugarcoat Oilers fans’ anger

The opening can hardly get more dramatic: an angry fan sends his Oiler jersey flying through the air, and it lands right on the Rexall Place ice.

It happened seconds after final horn ended the shellacking the Oilers had suffered at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.

Oil Change, in its fourth episode this season, doesn’t shy away. In fact, it goes even further: it touches in some detail upon the debate that would follow. To Oilers’ coach Dallas Eakins the jersey-throwing stunt would be a sacrilege, to many a disgruntled fan, it would be a perfectly justified sign of perfectly justified discontent.

It aired on Sunday on Sportsnet, and the first series of repeats is scheduled to happen Tuesday evening. It’s worth every second of your viewing time.

There are several firsts in this episode.

We get to see a bit of the anatomy of a trade as the Oilers sent goalie Devan Dubnyk to Nashville. We get to listen to coach Eakins’ explanations, views not shared earlier with anybody, be it in interviews or regular scrums. Those explanations are very revealing. Not only of the coach’s thought process, but also of the situation (or, to put it bluntly, the plight) the team has been in.

Whether one agrees with the explanations is perfectly irrelevant. They are Eakins’ explanations, they reflect his philosophies, and the players had better heed them, if they know what’s good for them. Why? Simply because a huge number of them will be looking for new contracts at season’s end. And – something more important for the team than for individual players – because their customers have begun showing signs of losing their patience with the group they have taken to calling a bunch of underachievers.

Is it fair? Not necessarily. Is it important? You bet. If those who are paying the piper start rejecting the merchandise you’re offering, you’re in trouble.

Of course, there’s always the future to hope for. Now, this is an old song-and-dance routine for Oilers’ fans and the percentage of those who have been bored to distraction by it has been growing by leaps and bounds lately.

Oil Change is not singing and dancing about the future, bright or dark as it may become. Instead, it puts faces on it. Two segments give us interesting insights into the lives of Mitch Moroz, currently with the Edmonton Oil Kings, and Darnell Nurse, currently with the Soo Greyhounds. Moroz’s junior days are coming to an end (that’s what happens when you’re growing up), and Nurse was so pretty close to making the Oilers the last training camp out, his cut must have come as a surprise, nay, shock, to many.

Neither of these two guys will be a saviour. In fact, the Oilers should consider abandoning this short-sighted notion that once they pick somebody as the first-overall choice at the draft, that player must perform forthwith or else he’s a failure, and so is the club. And the fans should shelve this view, too.

This episode of Oil Change is a stark document of what’s really going on the Oil Country. And it’s not too funny.

As is Aquila Productions’ habit, the pictures are crisp, the editing is fast (but not overwhelming), the music enhances what we see and hear, exchanges made during action on ice appear in subtitles bringing us that much closer to the team, the commentary is laconic, precisely as it should be, not a word wasted.

Great documentary making. Truthful and fair. What more can we ask for?

Winds of change to blow in part four of Oil Change

Will the Christmas break and the arrival of yet another year help improve the Edmonton Oilers’ fortunes?

Judging by what’s been happening thus far, this is not a fair question.

But the fourth episode of Oil Change will give us a few interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses to show the club isn’t just waiting for miracles to happen.

While in Minneapolis, general manager Craig MacTavish puts together two quite bold moves, moves he had promised in his inauguration speech. The Oilers have just lost in Chicago and Dallas and MacTavish sends goalie Devan Dubnyk to Nashville, getting forward Matt Hendricks in return. Then, he turns around, and before people can start asking questions about the goalie position in Edmonton, he acquires Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles, giving up a third-round pick in exchange.

And, Oil Change promises, we will get to see how it unfolded.

Episode Four of the hugely popular Aquila Productions’ show will air on Sunday, Jan. 26, on Sportsnet, as follows: at 5 p.m. in the East and in Ontario, at 3 p.m. out West, and at 2 p.m. in the Pacific. The first re-broadcast of Oil Change’s fourth episode is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28, for 7 p.m., across the entire network.

The trade sequence helps culminate this episode of Oil Change, but the timeframe this episode covers includes much more drama. Such as that fan who sent his Oilers jersey flying over the glass on the ice following the home team’s ignominious defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Blues. Coach Dallas Eakins, instead of keeping his sentiments to himself, proclaims his club does not really need quitters. That sparks a wide-ranging debate in the Oil Country that calms down somewhat only after the Oilers beat the Winnipeg Jets in their last pre-Christmas game.

If there’s one consistent theme, it’s the Oilers’ inconsistency. Capable of shutting out the Flames right in their Saddledome barn in Calgary, they go and blow a two-goal lead against Philadelphia the next day. Playing like boys against men in games with San Jose, Anaheim and St. Louis, they manage to defeat Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, that Pittsburgh that features Sidney Crosby in its lineup.

Oil Change faithfully records all that. But it also lets us see two intriguing bits of the club’s future, as its crews spend time (both on and off the ice) with a couple of promising draft picks. Mitch Moroz is a power forward drafted in 2012. His major junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings will be over by the end of this season. Darnell Nurse, the Oilers’ first-round (7th  overall) pick last June, captains the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League and is that team’s star defenceman.

Time isn’t standing still, and the Oil Change episode, fourth this season, promises to reflect precisely that.

Was October a month from hell? Oil Change lets you be the judge

If the Edmonton Oilers ever become as good as the documentary series, Oil Change, that has been following them for the last four years, they’d be sitting pretty on top of NHL standings.

The second episode of this season’s show aired on Sportsnet Sunday night. As has been the network’s habit, we can expect repeats throughout the month, till time for the next episode comes in December. Viewers south of the 49th parallel can catch it on the NHL Network. Come to think of it, it airs on NHL Network in Canada from time to time, too.

October was a month from hell for the Oilers, and Oil Change doesn’t sugarcoat it. But its behind-the-scenes looks do give us a key to a more detailed understanding of what does and what doesn’t ail the club. After all, most Oilers’ fans had known for a fact that their beloved team has turned the corner, at long last. Not that we should begin sketching Stanley Cup parade routes right away, but the optimism was palpably there, and pre-season games seemed to confirm it was well-founded.

Guess what: it wasn’t, and experts who warned in their pre-season assessments that the Oilers still had a ways to go must have noticed something that the fans haven’t.

What was it?

Oil Change lets head coach Dallas Eakins try his own explanation. Whether it is really valid, Oil Change wouldn’t say. It is a documentary, after all, not a soapbox for commentators.

In any case, according to Eakins, some of the system changes might be difficult to adjust to as it is, and players’ muscle memories might encounter hard times trying to do the coach’s bidding. As he put it, a player might be trying as hard as he can to do what his coaches told him to do, but – from time to time – he might slip to old and tried habits whether they used to be successful or not. That, says Eakins, is quite understandable. Changing muscle memory simply takes time.

To the show’s credit, not all is doom and gloom.

Joey Moss celebrates his 50th birthday, and Oilers’ players prepare a celebration in style: they gather in Ryan Smyth’s house and surround a wrestling rink where two professionals fight, much to Moss’s enjoyment: professional wrestling is his second-most popular spectator sport.

Much laughter and joy. So much laughter and joy, in fact, that a viewer might ask: are these guys whistling as they walk past the graveyard?

Not really: they go out and deliver a present that Joey Moss must be enjoying the most: down by three, on home ice, to boot, they end up defeating the New Jersey Devils, vanquishing Martin Brodeur in the shootout.

It is most unfortunate that they do not continue winning on a more consistent basis.

All the nibs are in agreement that what ails the Oilers at the moment is inconsistent defence and even more inconsistent goaltending. Oil Change investigates whether the U.S. Marines are coming, and if so, when and whence. Its Aquila Productions crew visits the Oilers’ AHL farm team in Oklahoma City just in time to witness how its group of young defencemen is settling down, signing living quarters leases, practicing and playing. The Barons’ GM Bill Scott is of the view that some of his club’s defencemen are getting quite close to being ready for the show, while head coach Todd Nelson provides further details.

Young defencemen Milan Marincin and Oscar Klefbom tell us what the Oilers’ coaches have asked them to do to get ready for the show.

An almost forgotten name pops up: Oil Change visits with goalie Tyler Bunz. He is now playing for the Bakersfield Condors of Bakersfield, California, an ECHL affiliate of the Oilers. The 2012 Del Wilson Trophy winner for the best goaltender in the WHL (Medicine Hat Tigers), picked 121st player overall by the Oilers in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL draft, is even more removed from the NHL than his colleagues in Oklahoma City, but he’s fighting hard, with his eyes firmly set on his life goal: making the Oilers.

One trend where this season’s Oil Change differs monumentally from its previous three seasons: its crews spend more time with individual players outside of the rink, telling us their stories.

Many might have heard of Andrew Ference’s obsession with the environment, but watching him work in his basement, preparing the right mix for compost to be used in his backyard next spring, now, that’s a sight. And spending time with him and school children, with whom he shares a presentation on what happens to our garbage after it’s been taken away by garbage trucks, as enlightening a scene as can be.

Also: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins meets his brother Adam in Montreal. Adam is five years older than the Oilers’ young centre. He studies kinesiology (some describe it as treatment by movement) at Concordia University. He also became a regular defenceman on the school’s hockey team, Concordia Stingers. As a walk-on, too.

The older brother helped his younger sibling with his rehabilitation practices over the summer, trying to help him recover from a shoulder surgery. But, they both agreed, laughingly, other than that, they’ve always competed. And Ryan says it was his older brother’s example that made him the player he is today.

Many a fan is asking: what’s wrong with Nail Yakupov? This segment features the two games that his coach sent him to watch from the press box, but Oil Change found Slava Malamud, a Russian journalist with the Sport-Express newspaper who attended a few Oilers’ games. Malamud has been watching Yakupov since the young phenom’s junior years, and he offers some precious insights.

This episode is, again, a fast-paced production, filled with the sounds of the game, including the chatter on and off the bench (sub-titled, on occasion, so we know precisely what is said), great music selection, only a few words of narration, sharp camera work and editing.

Great entertainment, not only for those who love hockey in general, and the Edmonton Oilers, in particular. A fascinating teaching tool to help us understand what makes a team tick (and what doesn’t, too).

Oil Change’s second installment this season features October from hell

The first month of this NHL season was a month the Edmonton Oilers would rather forget, and that’s putting it mildly.

Oil Change, the television documentary that has been following their ups and downs with unique backstage looks, for the last four years, will provide us with more insights Sunday, Nov. 17, on Sportsnet.

Here are the times as provided by Sportsnet: 9 p.m. Eastern time on the East and Ontario regions, 7 p.m. Mountain on the West region, and 9 p.m. Pacific on the Pacific region.

Write these times down as this upcoming episode promises a lot for Oilers’ fans to frown upon. But it promises moments to enjoy, too.

Of the 14 games the Oilers played in October, nine took place on the road, six of them in the east, a region where the Oilers have traditionally had difficulties.

Why?

Who knows?

In any case, their head coach Dallas Eakins has maintained throughout the ordeal that his club is better than its October record seems to indicate. Whether he knows something the rest of us don’t, only future will tell. It would be good, not only for the Oilers and their fans, but for Eakins, personally, too, if he is right.

As is the tradition of Oil Change, we’ll see in this episode scenes mostly hidden from general view when and as they happen.

For example: a morning off in Montreal, with top centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his brother Adam, a student at Concordia University. Or the Oilers celebrating their beloved, long-time dressing room attendant Joey Moss’s 50th birthday with a laugh-filled pro-wrestling show at Ryan Smyth’s house. Or a group of the team’s young stars having some four-wheeled fun in the parking lot outside Rexall Place during a TV commercial shoot for Ford. And a glimpse of some young prospects on the Oilers farm teams in Oklahoma City and Bakersfield, as they are chasing their NHL dreams.

Many fans could be forgiven if they ask: who are these guys? Mark Arcobello, Will Acton and Luke Gazdic, classic underdog success stories, all of them. Or fellow rookie Anton Belov, who passed up much bigger money in Russia’s KHL this year to try to make a name for himself as an NHL defenceman. That he might earn himself an invitation to join Team Russia at the Sochi Olympics in February would be an added bonus.

And what’s wrong with Nail Yakupov? The first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has been struggling as an Oilers sophomore, ending eventually as a healthy scratch for the first time in his starry career.

Edmonton’s award-winning Aquila Productions has created the entire Oil Change series that has developed a healthy, cult-like following across the entire North American continent.

If previous seasons and installments are any indication, we have great television to look forward to.

Oil Change sets a new standard, and it’s pretty high

As the Oil Change series goes, this one takes the cake.

Broadcast Friday night on CityTV, to be repeated Sunday at 11 p.m. on Sportsnet West, this season’s first installment, titled Overdrive, begins where the last season’s Oil Change ended: at the end of last season.

A lot has happened between then and now, and this season’s opener takes us on an incredible journey, looking at the twists and turns and turning points we, mere mortals, wouldn’t have seen and known without this show.

Aquila Productions’ people, creators of Oil Change, have obviously won a lot of confidence from the Oilers. The club now knows they have never abused this confidence, shown in unprecedented access to what is going on behind the scenes.

Just a few examples: we witness a serious between-you-and-me-and-the-lamppost conversation between general manager Steve Tambellini and his chief scout, Stu MacGregor. The topic: why the chief scout is of the view that the club’s Number 1 draft selection has got to be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and nobody else. The train of thought in and of itself is interesting, but the fact Oil Change people were privy to the conversation to the extent they could record it and broadcast it, now, this is perfectly surprising.

A conversation between Steve Tambellini and last year’s No. 1, Taylor Hall, during the draft, in which the top pooh-bah explains his strategy to his rising star, is an eyeopener, too.

This season, there was an unusual twist of fortune for Oil Change creators: three of former Oilers’ kids got drafted that day, too. Frank Musil’s son David went to the Oilers as No. 21, Kevin Lowe’s son Keegan went to Carolina as No. 73, and Craig Simpson’s son Dillon stays home in Edmonton at No. 92. To see these former greats as happy dads rather than as hockey professionals made for pretty good television.

We saw team brass negotiating about potential free agency deals last year, too, but that was from a bit of a distance. This time, we get as close as possible to seeing (and hearing) how the team managed to land Eric Belanger and Darcy Hordichuk.

And we saw that Steve Tambellini is about much more than just finding players and signing them, or trading them, or trading for them, or sending them down to the minors, or calling them up. Remember the incident in an exhibition game in Minnesota where Taylor Fedun broke his leg trying to chase the puck for an icing call? An Oil Change camera caught Tambellini standing alone in a corridor, talking to someone on his cell phone, confirming that young Fedun would be staying in the Minnesota hospital a few days before being allowed to fly back to Edmonton, and then telling whoever was on the other end of the call to please make sure the Oilers bring Fedun’s parents down so they can be with their son at this difficult time. Now, that was a touch of humanity if there ever was one. And, unlike such would-be reality shows like Survivor, this wasn’t staged or rehearsed. This happened. In real life.

There are more such moments in this version of Oil Change.

From a professional point of view, one of the things that catch the eye is the ability of the show’s creators to adjust the pace of the story they’re showing on the screen to the story they are telling. Face-paced where the story calls for it, they don’t hesitate to go for longer takes and slower cuts in spots where viewers deserve (and need) to get enough time to be able to absorb what they see on the screen.

And, as is usual for great television, they let the pictures do the talking, rather than overwhelming their viewers with too much commentary. So far as the sound is concerned, reality and great (but not overwhelming) music selections should suffice. They do.

What comes across loud and clear is the Oilers’ coaching staff’s basic philosophy. Head coach Tom Renney sounds like a teacher, one of those types who insist they’re strict but fair. Players might agree with the strictness part but, some of them, at least, might be (privately) inclined to raise an eyebrow or two about the fairness part. Especially those who think they deserve more ice time, or they don’t deserve to be healthy scratches, never mind being demoted.

In his first speech to the troops as the main training camp opens, Renney tells the assembled 70-plus hopefuls to remember that if they think that good enough is good enough, they’re terribly wrong.

And, during a drill in practice, Renney tells a player he mustn’t be surprised by anything at all. He must be ready for anything and everything.

That says it all, doesn’t it?

This season’s opener for Oil Change has set the bar pretty high. It’s a great documentary, unbelievably good television, and the Oilers should be counting their lucky stars to have this talented Aquila Productions group on their side.

Oil Change about to hit the airwaves

Popular documentary’s second-season opener to appear Friday on CityTV, Sunday on Sportsnet West

Oiler fans, this is a reminder: at 8 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 21, turn your television sets on, click all the way to CityTV, and watch. This season’s Oil Change is about to begin. If you can’t make it on Friday, turn to Sportsnet West on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 11 p.m. This is the lone occasion for such a late start: major league baseball’s World Series airs right before Oil Change.

Ah, baseball. The best non-toxic replacement for sleeping pills. Especially when compared to hockey, the fastest team game on earth.

The documentary series caused a splash last season, taking hockey fans behind the scenes to show how a professional hockey club goes about re-building a once famous franchise back to its glory. The fast-paced series showed us almost everything. From the internal debates regarding whom the Oilers should select with their first overall draft pick (remember the arguments? Taylor or Tyler?) through their occasional ups and more frequent downs, with everything in between.

It didn’t waste too many words, relying on the power of pictures, instead. It was unbelievably creative in its music selections, something the show’s executive producer (and the boss of Aquila Productions, and the Oilers’ director of broadcast) Don Metz is very particular about.

Oil Change has found an almost cult-like following, seen as it was both in Canada (on TSN) and in the U.S., through the NHL Network.

Why the change of venue?

Simple. TSN is going all out to help the renewed Winnipeg Jets by broadcasting 60 of their games, while Sportsnet has committed to broadcasting 60 of the Oilers’ games. The switch, then, was perfectly logical.

Still, it’s going to be the same crew that’s going to give us this season’s series, meaning that the quality will remain as high as last season’s – if not even higher. After all, experience counts for something. And, considering this Aquila crew has been around for quite a while, no need to fear the proverbial sophomore jinx.

So, remember, Oil Change is back on. Its backstage access will give you ammunition for reasoning why your beloved club has done this and not that. It will make you better-informed fans. It will entertain you, too.

Now, what can be better?

Happy viewing!

The Oil Change TV series returns: THREE CHEERS!

Oil Change is coming back. That’s very good news.

The six-part series of one-hour documentary shows that looks behind the scenes as the Edmonton Oilers have been going through an intensive re-building phase of their existence used to be broadcast on TSN. It became a favourite, developing an almost cult-like following right across Canada, and throughout the U.S., too.

This year, we’re going to see six one-hour parts, again, except the show has found a new home, on Sportsnet West and Citytv Edmonton. Quite logical, considering Sportsnet carries some 60 Oilers’ games this season.

If last year’s experience is any indication, we can expect fast-paced, very honest and open documentaries made by an incredibly talented crew concentrated around Edmonton’s own Aquila Productions. The Oilers have opened their doors to the creators in an unprecedented fashion, and the creators have never betrayed the trust. Still, the behind-the-scenes footage must have amazed even the crustiest of viewers.

Don Metz will again serve as executive producer, with Gord Redel returning as the show’s producer.

The series’ subtitle is Overdrive. Quite fitting, really. The Oilers have given their fans several years of frustration that developed into last year’s season of hope. As we all know, hope springs eternal, but who knows whether fans’ patience does, too.

In any case, Oil Change gives Oilers’ fans a unique chance to look what is really going on, and to appreciate their development with more knowledge and, dare we say it, empathy.

Last season’s series was a masterpiece. Not only was it deserving of its Gemini nominations, but, frankly, it should have won some of these awards, too.

Aquila can’t say what each episode will be about. They couldn’t say it in advance last season, either. Yes, they do have a rough idea that is based on some events that they can predict (first nine games for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for example, the trade deadline, and such), but other than that, they follow their subjects’ lives as they live them, and film their series as life dictates, rather than going the other way round.

That, by the way, is one of their strengths. So is their skilful and very creative use of music, and incredible camera work and editing. Besides, unlike many who claim they know how to document, creators of Oil Change are aware that pictures are much worthier than any number of words. And so, there’s not too much talk in the series, just the bare and necessary minimum. The rest is action.

And that’s what hockey is all about.

If you wish, clip the information below and attach it to your fridge. You will need it.

Episode 1

· Citytv Edmonton – Friday, Oct. 21 @ 8 p.m. (MT)

· Sportsnet West – Sunday, Oct. 23 @ 11 p.m. (MT)

Episode 2

· Citytv Edmonton – Friday, Nov. 25 @ 8 p.m. (MT)

· Sportsnet West – Sunday, Nov. 27 @ 9 p.m. (MT)

Episode 3

· Citytv Edmonton – Friday, Dec. 30 @ 8 p.m. (MT)

· Sportsnet West – Sunday, Jan. 1 @ 9 p.m. (MT)

Episode 4

· Citytv Edmonton – Friday, Feb. 10 @ 8 p.m. (MT)

· Sportsnet West – Sunday, Feb. 12 @ 9 p.m. (MT)

Episode 5

· Citytv Edmonton – Friday, Mar. 16 @ 8 p.m. (MT)

· Sportsnet West – Sunday, Mar. 18 @ 9 p.m. (MT)

Episode 6

· Citytv Edmonton – Friday, Apr. 20 @ 8 p.m. (MT)

· Sportsnet West – Sunday, Apr. 22 @ 9 p.m. (MT)