More than 600 years ago, during the late 15th-century, the play The Summoning of Everyman was written. The idea of an everyman was constructed because the heroes of most stories were impossible to relate to or identify with – their skills so far above a regular person’s. But, in everyman, an audience could imagine themselves in the same situation – fighting the same battles – without needing knowledge, skills, or abilities that transcended their own. An everyman was a regular person.
Typical Edmonton Oilers’ fans will never really be able to identify with a Wayne Gretzky or a Connor McDavid – they are simply too different. No, it’s more the grinders we can identify with because most regular people are just that – grinders.
A High and a Low For Chiasson
On this current Edmonton Oilers’ roster, Alex Chiasson is someone we can identify with. As Mark Spector wrote, Chiasson experienced the kind of good luck most hockey players will never experience: he had his name etched on last year’s Stanley Cup. But, what should have been sweet wasn’t all that sweet, because Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan told Chiasson “Good luck, after 69 regular season games and 19 playoff games, your services are no longer needed.”
When the Caps cut him loose, Chiasson couldn’t find a single team willing to offer him even a one-year deal. Instead, he signed a PTO (a Professional Try Out) with the Oilers. As Spector wrote, once “a Stanley Cup champion, working for meal money and hoping for a break.”
So Far, So Good in Edmonton
Perhaps Chiasson’s break has come. After admitting that he was a mucker, who scored 90 percent of his goals hanging out around in front of the net pushing both the goalie and the puck over the line or tapping in a rebound, in the two games previous to the Oilers win over Nashville on Saturday, Chiasson has scored different goals.
His Oilers’ History? Game 1-5: Chiasson watches from the press box. Game 6: Chiasson falls down 25-feet away from the net, but before he hits the ice he throws a seeing-eye puck past the Penguins’ Matt Murray for his first goal – a highlight-reel goal. On his second goal, Chiasson ties the game 3-3 by one-timing Toby Rieder’s pass. Game 7: Chiasson whips a screened, 40-footer past Braden Holtby in the third period after, himself, during an Oiler powerplay, blocking Holtby’s view to help create Evan Bouchard’s first NHL goal. Game 8: Chiasson doesn’t register on the scoresheet but he’s still an effective player in a big win over a team the Oilers hadn’t defeated in 13 consecutive tries.
As Chiasson notes, like all NHL players, he’s looking for a “sense of security.” Indeed, this year’s Oilers’ contract is his fourth consecutive one-year deal, and the Oilers are his fifth NHL team. That’s a lot of one-year deals, and that’s a lot of teams in seven years – the Stars, the Senators, the Flames, the Capitals, and now the Oilers.
It had to be odd last summer, taking the Stanley Cup to hometown Montreal knowing he was never going to play with the Capitals again – in fact, not even knowing if he would ever again play in the NHL. Even during Thursday’s two-goal game, his luck wasn’t that great: sure, he scores two goals, but he also takes a puck off the ear and has to endure 25 minutes of stitches before returning to the ice.
Perhaps this year is different. On Thursday, he got his Stanley Cup ring from former teammate Alex Ovechkin in the Capitals’ locker room. Then he goes out on the ice and scores one goal and makes another goal possible.
What’s Next for Chiasson?
I, for one, hope he keeps scoring for the Oilers. The Oilers need him; and, as a fan, he is someone I can relate to. Not knowing what will happen next year? I get it. Knowing that he has to work hard to find success. I get that, too. Emotional ups and downs? That’s human. Good day, bad day? Who can’t relate to that?
But his name is on the Stanley Cup, and it will stay there forever. For a lad from Montreal’s hotbed of hockey, that is something Canadian kids can relate to. As, Mark Spector ironically notes, “Because no one ever dreamt of a Cup ring, or celebrated a ring-winning goal on their driveway as a kid, right?”
Alex Chiasson admits, “I’ve had to grind it out to stay in the league, to prove that I belong.” Let’s hope he belongs in Edmonton. He was part of a team last year in Washington that learned to win: he got his Stanley Cup ring on Thursday to prove it. Two games for the Oilers, and lucky enough that perhaps every Oiler should rub his head. But, watch out for the ear.