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Is that Connor McDavid? Oilers fan decorates yard with life-size player paintings

EDMONTON — It's hard to miss Edmonton Oilers Captain Connor McDavid jumping over the white fence of Warren Sillanpaa's downtown home.

Sillanpaa, an extreme Oilers fan, created life-size paintings of McDavid and teammate Leon Draisaitl and glued them to the fence so it appears as if they're hitting the ice, ready for action.

"When you go by in a car, it looks like they're moving. So it's really cool," Sillanpaa said while standing outside his house.

Behind the players is a huge painting of a crowd of fans sitting behind the Oilers bench. Jerseys with the names and numbers of other Oilers players are painted on the fence as it stretches around the front yard.

"Some people like to come by with their kids and take pictures," said Sillanpaa.

The 60-year-old artist and graphic designer has also hung up large orange and blue Oilers flags on poles in the yard. Another fan donated them to the display after passing by the house when the Oilers beat the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final.

And then there's the oil derrick on the lawn, twice as tall as Sillanpaa, which he built from wood soon after he painted his mailbox orange. He lights up the torch on the top on game nights, and it stays bright for the night if the Oilers win.

Down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, the Oilers face off Friday in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers in Edmonton.

Sillanpaa said he hears about 40 honks a day from drivers passing by the house. Might be because of the sign that says, "Honk if you want the Cup."

Sillanpaa said he has done it all to show support and love for the team.

Back in 2006, the last time the Oilers made to the Stanley Cup final, against the Carolina Hurricanes, Sillanpaa also painted team jerseys on the fence.

"Back then, the energy in the city was electric too, but nothing like this year," he said.

Before that, he painted a copy of a classic photo from 1981 of actress Nastassja Kinski lying down with a boa constrictor.

Sillanpaa said a neighbour complained it was too vulgar and called police. He said officers asked him to take it down, because it was taller than allowed under the city's bylaw.

Sillanpaa painted over the sultry image, he said, but "she's still under the jerseys."

Signs of Edmonton's Stanley Cup frenzy are everywhere in the city.

Across from Sillanpaa's home, a Go Oilers Go banner hangs from a condo window. Elsewhere, flags poke out of car windows, and jerseys are displayed in front windows of other homes.

On game nights, some fans paint their faces in orange and blue. They hit the streets to party late into the night and high-five strangers.

Sillanpaa said he's confident the Oilers will win it all and, if they do, he hopes some players will drop by and sign his fence.

"I'll keep it all up until September if we win. And then if we lose, I'll take it down a couple weeks after."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2024.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press