Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Edmonton Oilers from A to Zed

Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Edmonton Oilers from A to Zed

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z(ed) series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Sammi Silber, editor of Oil on Whyte

A. Anderson, Glenn

Glenn Anderson is arguably the Edmonton Oilers’ best right wing of all time, and he was one of the most exciting, chaotic players to watch on ice (he’s got the moves, guys). With 498 goals and 601 assists, Anderson was a great forward who knew how to make plays in addition to scoring. His smart play and amazing talent led him to four All-Star game appearances, as well as to six Stanley Cup Championships. He was a part of the team that captured all five of Stanley Cups that Edmonton won in the amazing ‘80s.

B. Battle of Alberta (April 16, 1991)

In Game 7 of the Smythe Division semi-final, Edmonton faced their biggest, bloodiest, most brutal rival in the Calgary Flames. It was a huge Alberta showdown, and this goes down one of the most stunning games in Edmonton Oilers history. It was an arduous game in the Olympic Saddledome, but the Oilers managed to win the 5-4 in overtime.

The Oilers made it all the way to the Conference Finals but would eventually fall to Minnesota. Still, this version of the Battle of Alberta is one of the Oilers’ most outstanding games and will never be forgotten.

C. CONNOR MCDAVID (OBVIOUSLY)

Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid

I don’t think there's anyone or anything else that could go here.

There hasn't been this much excitement about around an up and coming player since Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby. We all know his name, and he hasn't even set foot in an NHL game yet. And he’s only 18. Connor McDavid is being dubbed “The Next One,” and you can see why with his impressive stats as a member of the Erie Otters. Last season he ended up with a total of 120-points (setting career highs with 44 goals and 76 assists) in just 47 games. At Oilers Development Camp - in front of nearly 8,000 fans - he scored five goals in a scrimmage.

McDavid is ready to be the next hockey great the NHL has been waiting for.

D. Down With Pocklington!

We all know about “The Trade” (see T), and the man responsible for such a terrible move is Peter Pocklington, the former Oilers owner and a criminal.  After August 9, 1988, he was so hated and despised for trading away The Great One that his awfulness is cemented in Edmonton lore, and his idiotic remarks throughout his career don't help. We still hate Pocklington and down with him!

E. Endless Possibilities (EVERY EFFING YEAR)

Going into this season - as well as every other season since the Oilers began missing the playoffs (a lot) - the team has won the draft lottery, and fans have no idea what to expect.

This team has a huge amount of possibility (AGAIN). Think about the damage the line of Taylor Hall-Connor McDavid-Nail Yakupov could do. New goaltender Cam Talbot just might help out the defense. Under new head coach Todd McLellan, the Oilers will strive to play a harder, grittier type of game.

BUT...

Let us remember that this is the Edmonton Oilers we are talking about.  Every year, something big happens in the offseason (usually a draft), the team starts incredibly strong, we see a turnaround on the horizon, inevitably raising our hopes. Aaaand it just ends in disappointment. Will that be the case this time around?

F. Fuhr, Grant

Yes, his mustache was amazing, but his NHL career was just as impressive.

Wayne Gretzky deemed Fuhr "the best goaltender in NHL history." He was the first black player to win a Stanley Cup and be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 10 years with Edmonton, Fuhr amassed a 226-117-54 record. Though his stats (.889 save-percentage, 3.69 goals-against) don't seem impressive by today's standards, he made the crucial saves when they were needed the most leading to five Cups, six All-Star nods, a Vezina and a Jennings. Fuhr is, without a doubt, the top goalie to bless the Oilers’ crease.

G. Gretzky, Wayne

Who else would it be?

Wayne Gretzky’s talent and ability aren't comparable to any active NHL player. Gretzky’s 894 goals and 1963 assists are records that will likely won't be broken in our life time. Quite simply, he's not only the best Oiler ever, he is the best player to ever play the game.

H. Hall, Taylor

The debate began at the 2010 draft: Taylor or Tyler? The Oilers saw something more valuable in Hall, thinking he could be the Oilers’ second coming (sound familiar?), and he was selected first.

Seguin and Hall's two careers have gone in different directions. Hall hasn't been bad, but he has yet to lead the Oilers up the standings and definitely hasn't lived up to his high expectations. It doesn't help he's spends a lot of time injured. Naturally, this lack of progression has lead to rumors of Hall being on the block.

He's still got the moves though!

I. Ignorance from NBC

Yes, the Oilers are a Canadian team. Yes, the team has not been worthy of any attention due to their last nine years of missing the playoffs and finishing at the bottom of the standings. The NBC Network that we all know and love (LOL JK) is yet again, ignoring the Oilers organization - even with the second coming in Connor McDavid. The team has not appeared on the network since the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this season, they will be broadcast on NBC only once for a showdown against the Buffalo Sabres/Jack Eichel.

With the NHL’s top prospect coming to the team, don’t you think NBC would push for at least more than one Oilers match?  Don’t worry, though, theBlackhawks and the Bruins will be shown on the network plenty of times, you know, because they’re never on NBC.  Thanks a lot, Pierre McGuire; even though the lack of Oilers games on the network is not his fault, I’ll still blame it on him, because everything is his fault.

J. Jari Kurri

JARIIIIII!!! Who’s one of the top Oilers’ left wingers of all-time? I’d say Jari Kurri. No. 17 had skills that not many players possess nowadays, making him a player that you would always want on your top line. His 670 goals and 797 assists throughout his career were not only impressive, but showed his ability to find the back of the net in any way, shape, or form.

His skill is on par with a sniper - lethal and consistent. He had seven seasons with at least 40 goals (highlighted by a 71-goal season) and five Stanley Cups with the Oilers, Kurri is one of the Oilers magnificent left-wingers in franchise history. Period.

Check out some of his best moments with The Great One:

K. Kevin Lowe (the player)

One of Edmonton’s speediest defensemen, he is the second best, only behind Paul Coffey (see: P). When the game was on the line, Lowe was the one the Oil trusted to solidify the backend. With six Stanley Cups to his name, as well as 84 goals and 347 assists in his career, Lowe saw the ice well. No. 4 is under-appreciated, but he is truly one of the more important players to ever put on an Oilers jersey.

L. Lowe, Kevin (the general manager)

On June 9, 2000, the Oilers named Kevin Lowe their new General Manager and later named the President of Hockey Operations.

Sure, Lowe was a great player in his own right for the Oilers, but as a general manager, he only led the lowly Edmonton franchise to even more pain and suffering.  And yes, his first years with Edmonton were great. He even got the Oilers within one win of the Stanley Cup in 2006, but after they choked, Chris Pronger forced Lowe's hand and demanded out of Edmonton; ironic considering Pronger was Lowe's greatest acquisition to that point.

The ownership of the Oilers kept changing, and with these changes, Lowe gained more and more power. That did not turn out well for the franchise. The Oilers went on to average 64 points per season. Lowe snagged Ducks RFA Dustin Penner via offer-sheet which, in turn, triggered a huge feud between former-Ducks GM Brian Burke and Lowe. Burke even challenged Lowe to a fight in a barn he would rent in Lake Placid.  Oh, the memories of Lowe…  Bright side, he was really good in getting us first-overall draft picks.

Lowe was removed as General Manager and later excused from his position as President of Hockey Operations, marking a rather unceremonious end to his era in Edmonton. He now works for the Oilers Entertainment Group.

M. Mark Messier

We all know Gretzky was sensational; however, Messier is close behind while in Edmonton. With 694 goals and 1193 assists in his entire career, Messier was amazing. His six Stanley Cup championships (five with the Oilers), two Hart Trophies and 15 All-Star game appearances, Messier wasn’t just great; he was superhuman at times. And his leadership? C'mon. Bridgestone won't lend their name to just any yahoo if he wasn't awesome... and so, so bald.

N. Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan

The NUGE!

The Oilers 2011 first-round pick is a baby-faced beauty, as well as a skilled and talented player.  He scored a career-high of 24 goals this season. In three of his four years in the NHL, he's averaged 50-plus points.

Although his numbers are impressive, his lower-body and foot injuries prevent him from developing into the playmaking sniper he's expected to be. As he continues to get older, he's going to be looked at more and more to deliver consistently for the Oilers in their rebuilding process.

O. Oilers Mass Exodus of 1991

This year was obviously the Oilers darker period.  I mean, right now’s a pretty dark time too, but to live back then?  Goodness, I cringe at the thought of that summer. It was a time where the team basically took all the greatness it had been given and was trading it away.  It took its championship team and said, “Hey, let’s get rid of it for kicks.”

Oilers Reunion
Oilers Reunion

The time was a Canadian horror story to say the least, as we said goodbye to quality players including Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr, Adam Graves and Jeff Beukeboom, among others (Craig Berube). This off-season was probably one that almost killed the Oilers team, as it cut down fans hopes, game attendance and the ability to make the playoffs.

P. Paul Coffey

Coffey is arguably one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. With speed like his, Coffey knew how to handle the puck and play a fast, rough-and-tumble hockey game. As a defenseman, Coffey scored 396 goals and 1,135 assists, while also holding a +294.  He’s obviously superhuman, or just a fabulous hockey player.  Or both, but he is deserving of a spot on this list, period.

Q. Quinn, Pat

“The Big Irishman” was a small part of Oilers history, but boy was he a memorable part.  He coached for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and last but not least, the Edmonton Oilers. The former NHL defender coached all of his teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, except for one.  Yep, you guessed it, the Oil.

In fact, he was the one to take the helm in 2009 after firing long-time coach Craig MacTavish (the first time), and that was - yet another - year Edmonton was supposed to bounce back.  However, they did the opposite because that’s what they always do; the Oilers finished dead last in the NHL with 62 points that season, only winning 27 of 82 NHL games.  After a horrific season, Quinn was moved to a position within Oilers Hockey Operations but left after one season.

R. Rexall Place

This wouldn't be a complete list without a shout out to good old Rexall Place.  It has been the home of the Oilers for as long as the team’s existence, even back to the WHA Oilers. This barn is filled with countless memories; both the good and the horrifying.

The Oilers’ upcoming season will be their last at Rexall Place before they switch to newly constructed Rogers Place, located in the new Ice District hockey neighborhood.  The Ice District will have a new arena with theater seating, restaurants, apartments and more in the downtown area. It's not going to be cheap, though, some season tickets costing up to $23,000.  Even the website makes you feel poor.

S. Sather, Glen

Glen Sather is a huge part of Oilers history.  In fact, I don’t know if the Oilers could have existed without him. Not only did he play for the Oilers in the WHA, he served as their head coach from 1976 to 1994.  He coached the team to five Stanley Cup Championships and a total of 13 playoff runs. He later served as the Oilers General Manager and President.  Without Sather, Edmonton would not have the success they did in their history. He will finally be honored Dec. 11 at Rexall Place when the Oilers take on his now former-team New York Rangers.

T. "The Trade"

August 9, 1988, a day that lives in infamy in Edmont. Ask any hockey fan where they were when they heard the news because they'll definitely remember. Could it really be? The Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings.  It ranks up there with one of the NHL's most earth-shattering trades, so much so Gretzky was brought to tears during his press conference.

Why did it happen?  Gretzky claims he was not traded but “sold” to the Kings since Pocklington ended up with $15-million in cash. Or maybe it was because Pocklington didn't like Gretzky. cAcording to Janet Gretzky, Pocklington hated Gretzky, offered the Kings to take Gretzky and even went on to claim that Gretzky had a huge ego the size of Manhattan, and that he was pretending to cry at the press conference.

Nevertheless, Pocklington traded away a Canadian hero and quickly became the most hated man in Edmonton (see: D).  Even Nelson Riis, a member of the Canadian Parliament, tried to get lawmakers to stop the trade.  It didn’t work, and Edmonton would never be the same again.

Neither would the game of hockey.

Due to his trade to Los Angeles, hockey in the States, especially the West Coast, became more popular. It’s completely possible this trade resulted in NHL expansion years down the line of two more Californian teams known as the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks.  So, uh, YOU’RE WELCOME CALIFORNIA, AS WELL AS THE UNITED STATES.

U. Uniforms (Best in the NHL)

Copper and blue, and the logo is absolutely perfect.  The word mark in a circle, right below the oil drop.  It’s one of the most glorious designs and has never changed for as long as the Oilers have been around (ignoring that gear thing).

Some teams have the most horrifying logos (cough, cough, Buffalo Sabres), but not the Oilers. Edmonton's uniforms are on point, on fleek as the kids say, and they will never change.  And the forthcoming alternate orange jerseys are even more fabulous. I declare that the Oilers are the only team that can rock orange.  Sorry, Flyers, but your jerseys are just… no.

V. VICTORYYYYYYYYY (Well, in the 1980s…)

The Oilers have been in the NHL since 1979, and the team was unstoppable in the 1980s. During that decade, the Oilers took home five Stanley Cup championships and were constant contenders. The fact that a newly-formed NHL team could go on be successful so quickly after their inception is almost unheard of across all pro-sports.

Hopefully, the team returns to its ‘80s success… and not in, like, 2080. *sigh*

W. Whyte Avenue

What’s Edmonton Oilers hockey without Whyte Avenue?  It’s a great place for fans to gather and celebrate the Oilers.  It’s what makes Oil Country complete.  Although it's been a while, it was extremely crowded in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, jam-packed with fans cheering on Edmonton.

With Rexall Place being abandoned after this year, it’s going to be hard to imagine the downtown hockey neighborhood without Whyte Avenue.

X. eXpansion in 1979

The World Hockey Association (WHA) wanted to merge with the NHL, and there were several sticking points. Boston did not want the Whalers in their New England territory, the Canadian teams did not want to split their revenue six ways from Hockey Night in Canada, and the Kings did not want to lose games against the East Coast teams. This allowed the Oilers, Nordiques, Whalers and Jets to enter the NHL in 1979, and this expansion bore the Edmonton Oilers we have today.

Y. Yakupov, Nail

What a surprise! Another Oilers first-overall pick who has yet to live up to expectations!

In his two seasons with the Sarnia Sting, he totaled 170-points (80G, 90A) Nail Yakupov so it wasn't a surprise when he was taken first overall by Edmonton in 2012. Yakupov has scored 42 goals and 46 assists in 192 games so far with Edmonton, and his plus-minus sits at a minus-72 for his career.

Yakupov is one of the most controversial players on the Oilers roster because he's full of potential but his lack of accountability and back-checking is troubling. And really, he needs to up his game if he's going to continue to celebrate like this:

Z. Z-Listers

If the NHL worked like Hollywood does, the Oilers are the Z-Listers. Constantly at the bottom and always trying to rise to the top. Even the most hardened Edmonton fan has optimism going into new season - even if they don't admit it - that this might be the year.

Meet the author: Sammi Silber is currently the editor of Oil on Whyte, a fan website for the Edmonton Oilers. She’s been a hockey fan ever since going to her first NHL game when she was 11, and she is in love with Connor McDavid.  She has also written four novels and is entering her freshman year of college, where she will continue covering Oilers hockey. Follow her on Twitter @sammisilber.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit