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Stafford a perfect fit for new position

by Cam Tait / Edmonton Oilers
Barrie Stafford waves to the crowd. Photo by Derek Leung.

In his 27 seasons as Oilers Head Equipment Manager, Barrie Stafford worked tirelessly for players, making sure helmets, gloves, jerseys and skates fit perfectly.

And, speaking of a perfect fit: Barrie has just been appointed Oilers Entertainment Group’s (OEG) lead person for the Edmonton Oilers Alumni Association (EOAA).

“I’ve been auditioning for this position my entire career,” says Barrie, now in his 34th year working for the Oilers/OEG. “Change is a good thing. I love challenges and always look to challenge the status quo.”

The EOAA has had strong leadership from local Alumni for almost 30 years and has 700 former players living around the world. Several of those players and Glen Sather are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“Once an Oiler Always an Oiler” is really a worldwide-lifelong community,” says Barrie. 

In his new role with EOAA, Barrie is poised to do his homework and then chart the course of the group.

“For the first while I’ll be asking a lot of questions of executives and members, and doing a lot of research,” Barrie says. “I’ll be finding out what is important to the group and helping with our mandate, which is to support our alumni, ensure they feel a part of OEG and to help the community through fundraising, player appearances, and charity events. I’ll get the chance to speak publicly to help people understand what our alumni association is all about.”

Recent history shows former Oilers have a passion to return to Edmonton. Take the last Oilers game played in Rexall Place in April for example — over 175 players and staff celebrated the event. There have been others, too: the 2003 Molson’s Heritage Classic outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium; the 30-year anniversary of the 1984 Stanley Cup championship victory (the first Cup for the franchise), and the Glen Sather banner raising last December. 

Barrie says such events “have brought the significance of our alumni to the forefront.” 

With his long association with the Oilers, Barrie knows all of the alumni personally. 

He left his equipment manager role in 2010 to be on the business side of hockey, working as Special Projects Director for the Oilers. 

Oilers alumni. Photo provided.

Since 2012, Barrie has been hockey operations liaison for the locker room and other related spaces in the soon-to-be-open Rogers Place. 

“I’ve always considered it a privilege to work in the NHL, and I approach this role as all others,” says Barrie. 

He’s a proven winner. As Head Equipment Manager, Barrie was part of five Stanley Cup championship teams.

OEG vice-chair Kevin Lowe was a defenceman and had a front row seat to watch Barrie at work.

“The work Barrie and the entire training staff performed during those years was second to none in the entire NHL,” says Kevin. “They played as much a part of the victories as the players and coaches.”

Oilers alumni and former captain Wayne Gretzky says Barrie was more than an equipment manager.

"The one guy we as players could always count on was Barrie," Wayne says. "He was like another player, always into the game and always over prepared. He was the best."

Barrie thinks fate has been with him his entire career, and will continue.

“The stars aligned — I was in the right place at the right time in my career,” says Barrie.  “And, this is an exciting opportunity to work with my friends.” 

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