We know there hasn’t been much success in Edmonton the past eight seasons now, but during the 1980s they were the team.
Back in 1984, the Oilers started their dynastic run by ending the New York Islanders’ dynasty beating them in five games. Now, 30 years later, they’re getting the band back together again on Oct. 10 to celebrate the first of what ultimately became five Stanley Cup titles in Edmonton.
As Derek van Diest of the Edmonton Sun shared, the idea to get everyone back together was Wayne Gretzky’s.
“I think everybody, which Wayne (Gretzky) alluded to, and him being the architect of getting this idea, wanted to see the guys and get together,” Oilers President and member of that ’84 team Kevin Lowe said. “We’ve never celebrated the team in any capacity, we did have the Heritage Classic in 2003, which was a bit of a celebration. This is a real fitting event and it looks like everybody is going to be here.”
By “everybody” Lowe means just about everyone involved with the Oilers’ success. Players, coaches, scouts, equipment staff, and executives will all be part of the celebration. We’ll see if former owner Peter Pocklington is welcome since he’s the guy who traded Gretzky and all.
That ’84 Oilers team was one of the most talented teams ever assembled. With Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, and Glenn Anderson along with coach Glen Sather they scored 446 goals that season, 86 more than the second-best scoring team, the Quebec Nordiques.
Justin Schultz was perhaps the most hotly pursued free agent defenseman of the summer not named Ryan Suter.
The unsigned Anaheim Ducks draft pick was courted heavily by teams and his desire to play back home in Canada won him over as he signed a two-year deal with the Oilers. After playing three years for the University of Wisconsin, he’ll now look to earn a spot in the Oilers top-six along the blue line.
The question people have now is whether or not he’s worth the hype. The numbers he put up in college certainly lead you to believe he is.
After playing in the national championship during his freshman year, Schultz broke out in a big way the next two seasons scoring 34 goals and adding 54 assists during those years. In each of those seasons he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist, college hockey’s top prize. Managing to do that in both his sophomore and junior seasons is rare.
Can those skills translate into the pro game? The Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini sure hope so. After spending the No. 1 pick three years running on forwards, Edmonton’s severely lacking defensive corps was lacking a young stud of their own.
If Schultz pans out the way many believe he can, he’ll have fans in Edmonton thinking he’s the Paul Coffey of a new generation of young Oilers stars.
With all the discussion he’s generated lately, you’d think Justin Schultz was the next Paul Coffey (who called him, by the way). For some, all the talk is fascinating. Others are growing tired of all the hubbub about a guy who hasn’t skated a single NHL shift. Wherever you rest, an answer will come soon. Bob McKenzie reports that the unrestricted rookie will announce his decision tomorrow.
Could it be the Edmonton Oilers? Perhaps the much-hinted-upon Vancouver Canucks? Might he defy the expectations that he’ll sign with a team in Western Canada?
We’ll find out tomorrow, which will give Schultz one more day in the limelight before a deluge of other news bits on July 1.
As far as finding out how good he is, we won’t get our first sign for a few months. It would be awfully disappointing if he was the rookie defenseman answer to Fabian Brunnstrom, though, wouldn’t it?