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Glen Sather shares banner-raising with Oilers fans

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Glen Sather, the architect of the Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup championship teams, had his banner raised to the rafters of Rexall Place on Friday.

Adorned with images of five Stanley Cups won with Edmonton, Sather was honored in a ceremony before the Oilers hosted the New York Rangers.

Sather’s banner joins those of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson, Al Hamilton and former radio play-by-play broadcaster Rod Phillips.

"It was great," Sather said. "People are terrific here, and I think a lot of these standing ovations in Edmonton are because people are proud of us."

Those who had previous banners raised were introduced to start the ceremony, with the exception of Gretzky, who was away at a family function.

A message from Gretzky was played on the scoreboard before Sather got up from his familiar seat in the press box and walked down through the stands to join the invited guests at center ice.

"I thought it (the entrance) was dynamic," Sather said. "When they first brought it up, I thought it was going to be lame-brain at the beginning, but walking through all those people, it was pretty good and it turned out good for the fans."

Sather was Oilers president and general manager when Edmonton joined the NHL in 1979. He soon took over as coach and guided the Oilers to the Stanley Cup in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990.

"I still see lots of people [in Edmonton], absolutely," Sather said. "I spent a long time here. It was great. I made a lot of good friends with a lot of good people."

He stayed with the Oilers until joining the Rangers in 2000 as president and general manager.

Sather told the crowd how lucky he had been throughout his career, starting by playing junior hockey in Edmonton and going on to be in charge of the Oilers.

"It’s difficult to do that [speech], it’s not something you’re trained to do and you’re really not prepared to do it," Sather said. "That’s why I wrote it instead of trying to wing it. I feel much more comfortable just talking, but I didn’t want to take the chance of missing somebody."

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