If you’ve been watching the NHL Playoffs, you know that the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche are now competing in the Conference Finals; the winner of their series will play for the Stanley Cup. If you’ve been reading North Dakota Nice for a while, you know that Kyle has loved (/hated) the Oilers for 42 years. With that, I’m going to interrupt my regularly-scheduled programming (next week will be a story about the long weekend, so you’ll need to pretend like that’s still fresh in your mind) to tell you what it’s like to be married to a hockey – and specifically an Oilers – superfan.
Even if you don’t know anything about hockey, you probably know Wayne Gretzky. Wayne Gretzky played for the Edmonton Oilers from 1979 to 1988; during that time the team won four Stanley Cups. The call of the Wayne was so strong that little Kyle Kosior broke ranks from his family’s long-time Montreal Canadiens legacy to don the navy blue and orange. This switch was a CHOICE because the Kosiors had collectively been Canadiens fans since the 50’s, when his grandmother’s cousin played for the team.
Little Kyle immersed himself in everything Oilers. By the time he was ten, he knew the stats and minute-by-minute gameplay of every player on both the Oilers and their farm team. Also when he was ten, the Oilers – the defending Stanley Cup Champs – had advanced to Game 7 against the Calgary Flames in an early Playoff series. In the third period, the game tied, an Oilers player named Steve Smith went to pass the puck back to a teammate, missed his target, and hit the leg of his own goalie (Grant Fuhr) to score on his own net. Little Kyle flung himself on his bed, sobbing in despair. He cried all through the night and through school the next day.
Twenty years later, Kyle found himself in an elevator with Steve Smith. Kyle was carrying a case of beer (a gift to a friend), and Steve asked him for one – and Kyle, the guy who has literally given people the coat off his back, channeled that inner ten-year-old and did about the meanest thing he’d ever done in his life. He looked Steve dead in the eyes and said, “No.”
(As a hockey mom, I’d like to say that Steve Smith is not the reason the Oilers didn’t advance in the playoffs. Hockey is a team sport, and if the Oilers were so great they would have won that game/series regardless. As someone who loves Kyle, however, I will continue to keep my mouth shut.)
The Oilers won their last Stanley Cup in 1990. Since then, they have…what’s a gentle way to put this?…sucked. While some of the Oilers fans drifted away to less-craptastic teams, Kyle remained steadfast. Also, miserable. When we met in 2004, his M.O. would be to watch a game, stomp around the apartment swearing for fifteen minutes (social media wasn’t a thing back then; now he does his grumping on Twitter), and then toss and turn all night. I found these tantrums so enticing that I decided to marry him.
The Oilers managed to enter the Playoffs in 2006, the same year we were wed. As much as he tried to play it cool, Kyle was hopping with excitement. That is not an exaggeration; we were living in an apartment on the south end of Grand Forks at the time, and Kyle would bounce between the living room and bedroom to shake off his nerves before every puck drop. Despite decades of losses, ten-year-old (but now thirty) Kyle was so convinced of their success that he decided to host a watch party with a large group of his law school friends. Unsurprisingly, the Oilers lost – and Kyle stood up from his Oilers easy chair (which was set below his Oilers wall clock, Oilers wall decals, and Oilers framed autographed pictures) and left. Not out of the room; out of the apartment. He came back a few hours later, long after all of our guests had left.
“Where did you go?” I asked him the next morning.
“For a walk,” he said.
“Where did you walk?” I asked.
“To East Grand Forks,” he said. (note: About 14 miles roundtrip)
I’ve now been Oilers fan-adjacent for nearly twenty years. In that time:
- Kyle tried (unsuccessfully) to name our first-born Ryan Smyth Pisani Kosior after two of his favorite players.
- In 2017, Kyle didn’t watch two games out of disgust, and has since spent the last five years telling me about the time he didn’t watch those two games.
- He has followed, and unfollowed, and refollowed every single Oilers blog and fan on Twitter. He has also cancelled multiple dinner dates because the Oilers lost earlier in the evening and “He just didn’t feel up to it.”
- He has taken our sons to see an Oilers game every year of their lives (excluding 2020), and I finally had to lay down the law on gifts of Oilers merch because I have enough t-shirts and jerseys to outfit the entire team.
- When I suggested that maybe he find a back-up team to follow to help balance out the Oilers suckiness, he didn’t talk to me for an hour.
Now the Oilers are in the Playoffs, and poor Kyle has had a permanent stomachache since about November. I told one of our friends that he’s so tensed up that I’m not sure he’s gone to the bathroom. The ten-year-old in him is still hopping with excitement; the grown man is so afraid to watch that he’ll turn off the TV in the middle of the game and I’ll have to refresh Twitter (or go into another room with a TV, because the Playoff games this year have been pretty fun) until I see that they are winning.
By the time I post this story the Oilers and Avs will have played their first game, and I wanted to get this on record before the series advances – because…well, because twenty years of because. I asked Kyle the other day if he was happy about the Oilers, and he thought about it for a long time and then said, “I don’t know.”
And that’s what it’s like being married to a superfan.
The photo above is of Kyle watching an Oilers game. Look at how much he’s enjoying it.
This week’s news has lemonade, fish, and 13,850 miles. Read on.
A group of Hunter second-graders raised $2,016 via a one-day lemonade stand to help one of their classmates purchase a new vehicle.(Facebook)
Time to borrow a fishing rod, because North Dakota residents 16 and older can fish for free on June 4 and 5. (KX Net)
A little (or even a lot) of rain didn’t deter the annual North Dakota Memorial Day ceremony. As Maj. Gen Al Dohrmann, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, said, “It’s a beautiful day. Any day we can gather and honor our veterans and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is beautiful.” (Bismarck Tribune)
Jamestown’s Helene Neville has spent the last 12 years running across every state in the country – totally 13,850 miles – and is the “fifth and oldest person to ever run the perimeter of the continental U.S.” (Jamestown Sun)
Congratulations to the newly-crowned Mrs. North Dakota America, Mrs. North Dakota American, Miss North Dakota for America Strong, Teen Miss for North Dakota, Junior Teen for North Dakota, Junior Miss for Grand Forks, Little Miss for Grand Forks, Junior Miss for Grand Forks 2023, Miss Red River Valley for America Strong, and Mrs. Downtown Grand Forks America! (Grand Forks Herald)
I know this isn’t a typical North Dakota Nice story, but I happen to know the Vanderpans and they are the nicest family and I think it’s awesome that Matt is sharing his story to raise awareness of stroke symptoms. (Grand Forks Herald)
And finally, a little North Dakota Nice from Facebook, courtesy of a a North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate:
Let’s Be (Official) Pals!
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