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One Hall of a Story, Part 1

Over a three-part series, Cam Tait delves into the Oilers past with Dwain Tomkow to share some stories about pieces in the Oilers Hall of Fame and the experience in putting it all together

by Cam Tait @camtait / EdmontonOilers.com

Sometimes, the stories behind the story make everything that much more special.

And that's certainly the case for the Oilers Hall of Fame, which officially opened Wednesday, October 12 along the south side of Rogers Place, visible to Edmontonians travelling across 104 Ave.

Over a three-part series, Dwain Tomkow, Edmonton Oilers Online Charity Auctions & Game Used Inventory Manager, shares some great stories about pieces in the Oilers Hall of Fame and his experience putting it all together.

Dwain was a natural to help with the Hall: he manages the Edmonton Oilers and Oil Kings Game Used Equipment programs and oversees the locker room equipment retail sales. Dwain also oversees the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation online charity auctions through the National Hockey League (NHL).

So, it was no surprise when he got a call from Barrie Stafford, Manager of Alumni and Community Arena Retail, asking if he would be interested in helping out in the Oilers Hall of Fame room.

Barrie and Rogers Place Chief Project Development Officer Bob Black worked tirelessly on all the details surrounding the Oilers Hall of Fame room. When they needed a hand, Dwain was the perfect candidate.

And while there are countless stories about Oilers exhibits dating back to the World Hockey Association, Dwain's favourite tale involves a Mark Messier jersey.

"Originally, we had hoped to receive Mark's home, white, 1990 Stanley Cup Championship Finals game-worn jersey, on loan from the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF)," Dwain said. "However, with the 100th Anniversary of the NHL celebration and display at the HHOF, the jersey had to be retained for Oilers fans to view and appreciate in Toronto."

Dwain said there was some disappointment. That led to a backup plan involving Mark and his brother-in-law Aldo Esposito, who had Mark's 1988-89 Oilers Nike jersey - the first year he served as Oilers captain. The jersey was loaned to the Oilers Hall of Fame room along with a few other items. 

"After a late meeting at the office sorting out some last minute details with Barrie, I left for the day. Only a few steps from my vehicle I got a phone call from a very excited Barrie announcing that a box had arrived at the office. He asked me to pick it up and call him back from my vehicle.

"So I change directions, grab the box from the office and once back in the safety of my vehicle, I open it up and find various memorabilia from Mark's career, including his 2003 Heritage Classic game-worn helmet and skates he wore as a New York Ranger. At the bottom of the box is what appears to be a navy blue CCM jersey from circa 1989-91 and not the highly anticipated Nike captains jersey we were hoping to receive. "

But not everything is quite as it seems: when Dwain had a closer look at the jersey he discovered it had the 1990 Stanley Cup finals patch on it.

It turned out to be the very jersey that Messier wore when he led his Oilers teammates to the franchise's historic fifth Stanley Cup in 1990. A priceless piece of Oilers history that now resides back in Edmonton.

The Oilers Hall of Fame will also serve as the location for post-game press conferences after home games and for major Oilers Entertainment Group media events.

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