Glen Sather coached many Oilers teams, dating back to their days in the WHA. But one of the best teams he put his mark on was the 1983-84 Oilers, who went on to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The entire 1983-84 team is in town for Friday’s reunion ceremony, and they gathered on stage at Rexall Place Wednesday for a media availability. Wayne Gretzky, who scored 118 points that season and 35 in the playoffs, talked about his head coach’s influence on that team.
“He was probably harder on us than our parents were,” Gretzky said. “It’s kind of funny when I say to people, ‘When I was 19-years-old, he really pushed me.’”
Gretzky continued, “He pushed us. That’s the first thing he did, and we had a respect level for him because the very first phone call he ever made if something bad happened or something wasn’t right, if you called Glen he was going to take care of it. He really became like a father to us, especially the younger guys that were here at 18, 19 or 20.
“Then he had this ability to let us live. He had one rule when we were Edmonton Oilers and that was to never embarrass the team. We used to always kid about it because practice would start at around 11 o’clock, the bus would leave around 4 o’clock, those little things never bothered him. He also liked family around. So if your father was in a city, he wanted them on the bus. If your mom or dad were in a different city, he wanted them on the bus. He really made us understand that work ethic is important but family is real important. He was the catalyst of the organization and we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for his foresight and his vision.”
The team finished 57-18-5 that year on their way to a Stanley Cup Championship. The 57 wins is still a franchise record.