Oklahoma City Barons: Hockey fans should enjoy 'Fab Four' while it lasts

Once the NHL lockout ends, which might be soon, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz will be reporting to the Edmonton Oilers.
by Michael Baldwin Published: December 27, 2012
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photo - Taylor Hall of the Oklahoma City Barons and Jamie Oleksiak of the Texas Stars fight or the puck during an AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Taylor Hall of the Oklahoma City Barons and Jamie Oleksiak of the Texas Stars fight or the puck during an AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

The league already has canceled 625 games through Jan. 14, more than half of the regular-season schedule in addition to the Winter Classic and All-Star Game.

Bettman said a minimum 48-game regular season would have to be played or the entire season will be canceled. To meet that demand, games probably need to start by late January, which is why Jan. 15 is viewed as the “season-is-cancelled” deadline.

In the meantime, Barons fans can watch the Edmonton Oilers' four cornerstone players.

Eberle, who played in last year's NHL All-Star Game, has scored 40 points. He's tied for the AHL scoring lead with Schultz, a rookie defenseman who has taken the league by storm.

Hall, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, has two years of NHL experience. He joined the Barons a couple of weeks late coming off shoulder surgery but has displayed blazing speed and a unique knack for scoring goals.

The best of the group might be Nugent-Hopkins, a 19-year-old wonder kid who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. Currently playing with Canada's junior team in an international tournament in Russia, Nugent-Hopkins almost won Rookie of the Year last season.

Oklahoma City has been a .500 team due to penalty killing and defensive deficiencies. But the Fab Four has put on an entertaining offensive show, combining for an astonishing 52 goals in 28 games.

It's uncertain how long the Fab Four will play in OKC. But it's obvious why the Oilers gave Hall a $42 million extension; Eberle a $40 million extension; and Nugent-Hopkins and Schultz will receive big-money deals in the future. For as long as the lockout lasts, Barons fans are experiencing a rare treat.

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by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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