Tag Archives: Sportsnet

What ails the Oilers? Oil Change looks for a diagnosis

So what is this thing called professionalism all about, anyway?

Does it mean that whoever performs whatever job gets paid for it, and that’s it?

Not one bit of that.

Professionals, real professionals, that is, are paid to perform their jobs to certain standards, day in, day out. They never ever sink so low as to perform under that set standard. And true professionals accept, too, that once they exceed a standard, that becomes the new standard that they have to perform to day in and day out.

That’s what professionalism is all about.

And that’s what the fifth episode of Oil Change is all about, too.

It aired early evening Sunday on Sportsnet, with first set of repeats scheduled for broadcast for Monday, March 17, thus:

Sportsnet EAST & ONTARIO – 12 a.m./ET

Sportsnet WEST – 9 p.m//MT

The fifth segment of Oil Change opens with assistant coach Steve Smith and Oilers captain Andrew Ference leading young Edmonton kids through a hockey practice, while the Stanley Cup (the REAL thing) arrives in their dressing room. The kids’ expressions upon their return to their dressing room to see every hockey player’s dream trophy right there – where they can touch it and have their pictures taken with it – are priceless.

And so are the gems of wisdom Smith and Ference share with them. They speak of years of self-sacrifice, of hard work, of team work, and of individual effort, and their words carry substantial weight. Both their names are engraved on the cup, after all.

Cut: Ference and new arrival Matt Hendricks are trying to define what has gone wrong with their team that many (local fans, at least) thought would be contending from now onwards all the way to eternity, to say the least.

Judging by the fact each of the two speaks in different environments, it would be quite safe to assume they are expressing themselves independently of one another. And yet, what they are saying and how they are saying it can hardly be much more similar.

What the Oilers lack is consistency, Ference and Hendricks agree. While they concede that some would say that it may be due to youthful exuberance, they reject this notion forthwith.

Here, they are perfectly in tune with their head coach. Dallas Eakins told all and sundry prior to the opening of this season last October that he hated anybody calling this club young. It would be a built-in excuse, he insisted, and he could hardly be more perfectly right.

Hendricks put it best: it’s one thing to play beautiful attacking hockey in your opponents’ zone, but that alone doesn’t win you hockey games. Playing from one backboard all the way to the other, with the entire team subscribing to this plan, that is the only way. From the way he said it it seems not all members of the team’s “talented future core” have yet signed on the dotted line that this would be the only way they would be playing from now on. As Hendricks put it, that would be the only way to play hockey the right way.

Neither Ference nor Hendricks did (or could) offer ways how to solve this conundrum. Neither of them holds a doctorate in group psychology, either.

But what they said was serious enough to force the other guys on the team to sit up and take notice.

A serious documentarist must be able to know what it is that is the most important issue concerning their subjects.

Aquila Productions crews quite obviously are keenly aware of the biggest issue the Oilers face. They approached what they kindly called “lack of consistency,” but what some others might call less charitably “lack of professionalism.” They tackled it with all seriousness. It couldn’t have been too easy for the two veterans, either, to speak on the record as frankly and sincerely as they had.

Hats off to both sides: the people in front of the camera, and those behind it, too.

The fifth episode of Oil Change captures much more than game highlights or unusual behind-the-scenes occasions. The meeting coach Eakins arranged for his young defenceman Martin Marincin, to meet Boston Bruins’ (and Team Slovakia Olympic squad) captain Zdeno Chara was touching, and so was the visit by a couple of Oilers’ players with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in his New York office. And the scenes surrounding the wheeling and dealing around deadline day were breathtaking.

Thanks to the Olympic break, the Oilers’ management, and an Aquila Productions crew, hopped on the chance to spend some useful time with the Oilers’ farm team, the Oklahoma City Barons. Some eye-opening conversations with players most in the know view as coming up to Edmonton in the very near future. Open, frank insights from Barons’ coach Todd Nelson, as well as observations from Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish.

All of this leaves the viewer much better informed.

But the gist of it all was and is elsewhere.

Such as: where are the Oilers going? Are they aware of the challenges they face with their consistent inconsistency that only a most forgiving person would describe as a sign of immaturity? Do they realize that they happen to have a window of opportunity right now because two of their most respected players have recognized the trouble and are willing to risk their necks by talking about it openly?

This episode, as has become the series’ habit, has turned the spotlight on the issues, with its usual mastery of their television documentary craft.

For fear of repeating oneself: crisp camera, sharp editing, a lot of action (it’s hockey, after all, the fastest team game on earth), no overwhelming verbiage, great music selection, authentic sound.

And an insight into a hockey team to end all insights into a hockey team.

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?

Coach Eakins explains his philosophy in Oil Change’s newest episode

Chop wood. Carry water.

That’s the motto Edmonton Oilers’ head coach Dallas Eakins has been trying to instill in his charges since he joined the club last summer.

With mixed success, as the third episode of this season’s Oil Change documents.

It aired on Sportsnet Sunday evening, and there will be, no doubt, quite a few re-runs before next month’s episode arrives in January of next year.

This episode’s opening is quite optimistic. It tells the story of Taylor Fedun, the young blue line prospect who broke his femur in a dangerous collision in an exhibition game in Minnesota two seasons ago. Young Fedun put in an incredible effort into his return, and Oil Change shows it in detail in some fine archival footage: all the way to Fedun joining the team in Sunrise, Florida, for his first regular season game. In his first shift, the linesmen whistle down a hybrid icing, something that didn’t exist when Fedun suffered his injury, something that could have prevented it.

That young Fedun scores his first-ever NHL goal in his first-ever NHL game is just icing on the cake.

Except, the team’s play (and results) is nothing if not erratic. They can come from behind, and win. They can establish themselves as an unbeatable monster and blank their opposition. And they can make minor mistakes of monumental proportion that cost them games left, right, and centre. One of the main issues so far as this season is concerned: they loose way too many games because of their own boneheaded plays rather than because of their opponents’ prowess.

Head coach Dallas Eakins knows it. Hats off to him for allowing the Aquila Productions crew to attach a microphone to him during a full practice on ice. We get to see and hear him, exhorting his players to think now and make their newly acquired skills habits that they can perform without even thinking, just instinctively. He’s perfectly correct when he says that this takes time, and he shows a great deal of patience.

It’s the fans who are impatient.

The general manager who announced on his introduction to the office last summer he was impatient, too, might have aged a few years during this season’s ordeal, but he’s emerging a wiser man.

Craig MacTavish’s news conference at the one-fourth-of-the-season point shows that. As always, he’s frank and painfully open.

Oil Change’s creators have come with an interesting combination of showing us MacTavish delivering his state of the union address and cutting into the Oilers’ home game against the San Jose Sharks all the while. They illustrate perfectly MacTavish’s blunt words with the action that’s going on on the ice.

As is usual, Oil Change features a few behind-the-scenes looks.

This episode includes a visit by the players to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, David Perron reading to the kids at the French-immersion Ecole Frere Antoine (in Mill Woods), Oilers’ players during a visit to the Inner City High School, a club tradition that deserves much more recognition than it’s been getting, and, of course, Oilers’ players in a toy store, buying toys for the Stollery Hospital patients who will have to stay in their medical attendants’ care over the holidays.

So far as sheer viewing pleasure is concerned, a boy in an Ecole Frere Antoine hallway, perfectly surprised that the guy who just passed him and patted him on his back was David Perron, imagine, THAT David Perron, is tops. With Perron reading books to the school’s students and explaining to them how it is with his English, coming in third. Why third? Because watching Oilers’ players filling shopping carts with toys and becoming children themselves again (not that they’re THAT far removed) comes in second.

None of these things can be staged. And none of them takes just sheer luck to capture. You’ve got to be a really good documentary maker to be able to carry these scenes off without any saccharine, showing but the real joy of living.

And that’s exactly what Oil Change has become in its three-and-a-half seasons. Never satisfied with what they’ve achieved the last time out, always pushing forward and looking for new ways to make the introduction of Oilers’ fans to their players as friendly as possible.

As always: fast-paced, crisp pictures, crisp editing, great music and sound selections, just enough words to explain what’s going on, but not too many to crowd out what’s going on.

Compelling’s the word.

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 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.

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)