The Edmonton Oilers won 3 Stanley Cups between 1984-87. As a result, their top players were demanding higher salaries each season.
First, Paul Coffey was traded away, and then Wayne Gretzky. Several other key players left, and then the Oilers pulled off one of the biggest trades in NHL history.
They sent Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Craig Berube to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sept. 19, 1991, for Vincent Damphousse, Luke Richardson, Peter Ing and Scott Thornton. At the time, Damphousse was one of the rising stars of the NHL. He had scored 188 goals and had 329 points in 5 seasons with Toronto, was only 23, and had been the MVP of the 1991 NHL All-Star Game, off a 4-goal performance.
Damphousse has an interesting connection to 2008 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov. He was traded for Anderson, and the San Jose Sharks signed him in 1998 for the same reason that they had signed Larionov in 1993, to put their intelligent, no-nonsense stamp on the team, add scoring and make teammates better. The broad-shouldered Damphousse and the slight Larionov are as far apart physically as you'll find in hockey, but they share a deep knowledge of the game and a passionate desire to win.
Damphousse was a team leader when the Montreal Canadiens won the 1993 Stanley Cup. Larionov won 3 Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings late in his career.
"Cliff Fletcher had just come in as general manager in Toronto and they were looking to win now, while Edmonton was looking to dump some salary, but the big thing was Cliff was looking for a goalie who had proven he could win the big games," Damphousse said. "I went to Edmonton and played with guys like Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish, guys who had won several Stanley Cups, and even though I was only there for one year, I learned things that helped me through the rest of my career.
"Glenn Anderson was big, strong player, very fast and tough to play against and he had that reputation of playing even better in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I was young at the time, not even 24, and he had the reputation of a player who could bring some scoring and added speed. I never had the chance to play with Igor Larionov, but I played against him a lot. He came in and you could see how good he was, how skilled and experienced, but I think he really hit his stride in the NHL when he went to the Detroit Red Wings and helped them win the 3 Stanley Cups."
Damphousse was reminded that the San Jose Sharks acquired Larionov for the same reason they acquired Damphousse, to provide leadership, great character, skill and productivity.
"I was aware of what he did when he got to San Jose, lifting that team and changing the image," Damphousse said. "I was a 31-year-old free agent when they signed me to a 5-year contract so that showed me that they had a lot of respect for me and a lot of confidence in me.
"I loved playing in San Jose with the Sharks. We had good years and the fans supported us. San Jose is a great city, especially a great city for raising a family. I really enjoyed my years there."
More memories --Sergio Momesso played 12 seasons in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. He played with Igor Larionov when that Hockey Hall of Fame inductee joined the NHL and against Glenn Anderson in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final between the Rangers and Canucks. He also played briefly against Anderson when they were members of the Canucks and Oilers.
"When I first started in the NHL in the 1980s, Edmonton was such a good team," Momesso said. "Glenn was part of that big crew and when he and several other Oilers went to the New York Rangers, they obviously wanted guys with character who had been there (won Stanley Cups)," Momesso said. "That's what he brought to the Rangers at that time. You win Stanley Cups with a lot of character people. He was a big part of that."
Momesso was traded by the Blues to the Canucks in 1991, Larionov's second season in the NHL. Another, younger Russian star joined the team the next year.
"Igor was starting to get used to North American hockey and when Pavel Bure came over, Igor was his mentor," Momesso said. "He was just feeding Pavel with his speed and using his intelligence to spring the other players. He controlled the game when he had the puck, slowed the game down to his pace.
"He was a leader, but a silent man with us. He leads by example. He wasn't a big man, but he was always in good shape. He did his work on the ice and he didn't say much, but when he did, guys would listen because he had so much experience and knowledge of the game. It was an honor to play with Igor Larionov."