I Moved to Alberta and Haven’t Hated Anything About It

My trek to Edmonton became a lucrative mid-life crisis
Zach Hyman may write a lot of kids' books, but he did not actually write this article.

Name: Zach Hyman
What he does: Plays top-line minutes for the Edmonton Oilers
His trajectory: Hopefully winning a Cup one day

A couple of summers ago, it seemed like everyone who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs was moving to Alberta. Tyson and Cody were there. (Jack would arrive a bit later.) Taxes were lower, and we heard that there was a chance in Edmonton to get out of the first round of the playoffs. A lot of people were urging me to make the move west. There were stories about it plastered all over the sports news.

I had been in Ontario my entire life. But, I needed a change. Some other former Leafs played in Edmonton, and some of my work trips there had worked out all right. So, I started browsing real estate in Edmonton and my agent talked to the Oilers. In 2021, I signed a seven-year contract.

And there’s a Cactus Club. Always a Cactus Club. My dream is to win the Cup, and then take it to the Cactus Club, where I shall drink out of it. Alone.

I left my job as an under-utilized, underappreciated forward in Toronto. I may or may not have had a condo in Mississauga, but the writer’s creative licence is going to take over, here. (So, sure, I had a condo in Mississauga.) I’m a major extrovert who likes to write children’s books in my spare time. I told my friends in Toronto that moving to Edmonton would reduce my stress and also improve my chances to win a playoff round.

Not long after I made the move, I got to play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. I have never asked a neighbour about a shisha lounge. The only red flag was when my old friends in Toronto got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, again. Meanwhile, the Oilers got to the third round and then had a disappointing week against the eventual Cup champs from Colorado. But, there was something missing. The overwhelming negativity and “waiting for the shoe to drop” anxiety that comes with the Toronto hockey media, that buzzy energy, was gone. Edmonton was nothing like the brief visits from earlier in my career when the team wasn’t a legitimate threat.

And there’s a Cactus Club. Always a Cactus Club. My dream is to win the Cup, and then take it to the Cactus Club, where I shall drink out of it. Alone.

The seven-year deal made financial sense. But, this year, my teammate left. Well, Evander Kane didn’t leave — he got a serious injury. So, I had to step up. After 27 goals last year, I’ve got 14 in 30 games so far this campaign. I’ve got four in the last two games. Have to stay on top of it, because the NHL never sleeps.

People always say that NHLers don’t want to play in Edmonton. But, eventually, I realized all the Oilers and their fans really want are some skilled players and a few hard-working labourers. If you want to be on the cover of NHL 23, then the jobs are available, but they are back East. But, hopefully, we’ll be a little more consistent, take advantage of an easier strength-of-schedule over the next couple of months, and emerge from the middle of the pack in the West. We can’t throw away a game like we did on Thursday against the Blues. Giving up a game-tying goal, with 19 seconds left to go in the game, that’s tough. And while we were on the power play, too.

“We were pretty careless with the puck in the last 30 seconds, and we put ourselves in a position to not win the game in overtime,” said our coach, Jay Woodcroft. But coach refused to blame any single player for the defeat. He kept going back to the idea that you win or lose as a team. Sure, it’s a cliche, but it’s nice to know the coach isn’t going to blow you up in the media for having a bad game.

When I’m crashing the net, I’m not even mad. It’s only getting to the puck first, that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Luckily, I don’t have a cousin who has an apartment near Square One (which is a mall in Mississauga, closer to Brampton than it is to Toronto). The only bump I am worried about is when I get bumped to the top line. My trek to Edmonton has been a lucrative mid-life crisis. And, if I keep producing and providing energy like I’ve done so far this season, this move has been worth it.