Part I of the oral history of the 84-85 Edmonton Oilers centres around their successful start to the regular season and how they were built
/ EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer
The 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers were voted the greatest NHL team of all-time, following a fan vote that received more than 3.6 million responses. Over a six-week period, this storied squad battled with other legendary teams, rosters, and seasons to see who would come out on top.
This team in particular defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final to win their second straight championship. They set numerous personal records and finished with a team record of 49-20-11.
Bakersfield Condors Captain Ryan Hamilton continues to leave his mark on the game of hockey through his genuine style of leadership
/ EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer
BY RYAN HAMILTON
I literally became obsessed with hockey. It was to the point where every time I was at school I committed all my projects to hockey, to an extent that my teacher had to specifically ask my parents for me not to do it any longer.
My mom still has some of that school stuff. She's kept a lot of that stuff and when I look back on it I start to think I maybe had a problem for a little bit.
I fell in love with the game and always wanted it to be part of my life. I was fortunate to do that.
This week's Sunday In Depth is on the Bakersfield Condors
BY MATTHEW RILEY, PRESIDENT OF THE BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
As anybody that witnesses it, hockey is a great sport. A great sport to play, a great sport to watch and our goal's been to get people to try it. We've done a lot of things to get people here and sometimes it's something other than the hockey. Then they get here, they see the sport and fall in love with it, which also helps grow it.
Grow the Condors brand, the Oilers brand and the sport of hockey in general while continuing to increase our value to the community. There's a pride factor in there but also, it's just good for the citizens who live here and in the surrounding areas.
That's been the plan and that's why sometimes we're a little bit outside the box.
We want people to experience the game and at the end of the day, have an enjoyable time for their entertainment dollar.
This week's In Depth centres around Jesse Puljujarvi's acclimation and rise to prominence with the Oilers
BY WINNIPEG JETS FORWARD PATRIK LAINE
You can see it on the highlights and on Twitter. It doesn't matter how things are going for him on the ice, good or bad, he always has a positive attitude, is always laughing and has a smile on his face… He just needed a bit of time to grow into the game a little bit, but now that he has, he's really turning into the player a lot of us knew he could be.
Take a look back at some of the biggest moments of 2017 with our In Depth Year in Review
/ EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer
2017 was a year filled with exciting moments for the Edmonton Oilers franchise. Take a trip down memory lane at some of the defining moments for the team with our Year in Review In Depth. Spoiler alert, there were a lot of great post-season moments.
Black tape or white, whip flex or stiff, this week's In Depth goes in on hockey sticks and the configurations Oilers players make on theirs
BY BRANDON DAVIDSON
I grew up in Taber, AB, just outside of Lethbridge and my dad told me what to use.
I remember my dad buying me a couple good sticks growing up. When I say 'good sticks' I mean expensive sticks from Christmas. Other than that, I used a $20 Sher-Wood. I used that all the way until I hit the Regina Pats. I was 16 years old and I was still using $20 wood sticks.
In my junior years with Regina, they gave you options. We were partnered with Bauer and I jumped in there not really knowing what I was doing at first. I grabbed a stick and I can't even remember if I even flexed it once or not, I just took a look at it.
I remember I used a Paul Coffey curve growing up. I used an Eric Lindros for a while, but other than that, when I got to use my first pro stick, I basically said, 'I had a Coffey curve, give me something that looks like a Coffey,' and that's how I started. How else do you start, really?
Sticks have come such a long way now -- and the game has come such a long way -- that the stick is really coming into play. Maybe 10 years ago, when I was 16, it was a different game.
I don't think you needed the secret weapons you have now.
Through Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' charitable efforts, one young Oilers fan has left his mark on some of the players
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At 5:30 a.m., Carter Hipkin is being lightly shaken awake by his parents.
They help the groggy 13-year-old put on his mask and start the roughly two hours of treatment that has become just a regular piece to his daily schedule. Carter begins inhaling his medications for an hour and a half before the physical portion of his chest treatments begins.
The parents lay their child on a board and beat his back and sides for a half an hour until he is able to cough up the mucus sticking to his lungs. This is just the start of his day.
At 8 a.m., Carter heads off to school, while around the same time, Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is arriving to the rink to begin his game-day routine.
Over the course of the day, Carter will take 40 pills and his treatments begin again in the evening. This is a regular day, a good day - a healthy day.
At night, Carter sits on the living room couch staring intently at the television as he cheers on his favourite team - all whilst his nebulizer mask pumps medication into his lungs and his number-93 jersey rests on his person.
Growing up in Canada often means at least some exposure to the French language. Be it actual fluency or at least the retention of casual greetings or phrases often learned in school that tend to stick for most Canadians outside of Quebec.
To someone who fits the description of the latter, at first glance the two words, "Bien Voyage," would appear to simply mean some form of, "good journey" or "good voyage."
From French to English it can also be interpreted as "well-traveled."
And for Oilers defenceman Yohann Auvitu, either translation fits all the same.
It's been quite the journey for the well-traveled man from the suburbs of Paris.
An in-depth look at the history of the Battle of Alberta
"The thing that fascinates me the most, is none of us got killed."
Long-time Calgary Flames forward Jim Peplinski summarized the Oilers-Flames rivalry with a single sentence.
If you ask anyone in hockey, one of the most interesting and oftentimes bitter rivalries of all time has to be the Battle of Alberta.
"If we walked out after the game or before the game and saw one of the opposition, you'd go the other way. You didn't even want to see them," said Kevin Lowe, who suited up for the Oilers from 1979 through 1992 and then again from 1996 to 1998. "And they felt the same way about us."
Deriving from a family of left-handed shooters, Matt Benning was encouraged to shoot right at an early age to fill a National Hockey League demand
BY BRIAN BENNING
The first memory of hockey for me was four boys in a typical Canadian family growing up with a rink in the back of the yard. We'd go out there and everybody kind of gathered at our place and everybody would just play hockey. That's what we knew. We called it pond hockey, river hockey, whatever -- that's where we learned the game.
Then we'd play at the community centre and eventually as we grew older, we'd go to the outdoor rinks after school and play with the older guys. You'd have to skate really fast or pass the puck really quick to play with them.
Back then, when we were kids, there was a special at Mohawk: If you got a tank of gas, you could go to the garbage can and pick out a hockey stick.
So, my dad got a tank of gas and my older brother Jim went to grab a stick
He grabbed a left.
The next time dad fuelled up, the special was still on: get a tank of gas, get a stick.
My brother Mark went and grabbed a stick. Of course, he grabbed a left because older brother Jim grabbed a left.
So, we're playing with two sticks and then it was my turn next.
I grabbed a left.
At the end of the day, all four of the Benning boys shot left and it made it easy for dad to buy sticks. He'd buy them by the dozen and the kids would use them. We kind of adopted that.
But now, the next generation is on the other side -- they all shoot right.
Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira and Hockey Night Punjabi are growing the sport within Canada's South Asian community
By Harbs Bains, President, Surrey Minor Hockey Association
I met Jujhar earlier this year. The Surrey Minor Hockey Association was hosting a tournament with teams from China and Korea.
When the China team was in town, we were playing at a rink in Burnaby and Jujhar, along with some other NHL players, were there working out and practicing.
A couple of our Surrey kids noticed Jujhar, so I went over, introduced myself and asked him if he would mind coming over and saying hi to the kids. Not only did he come, but he brought a couple of other guys with him.
The kids loved it. He went to the China team dressing room, I introduced him to the coaches and all the parents came in to take photos. He did a wonderful job.
And then he came over to the Surrey dressing room. The kids all knew who he was, shook his hand, got autographs and took lots of pictures. He was fantastic. I know he was tired, because he had just come off a workout, but he took his time and said whenever we needed something he'd do his best to help us out.
It was a cross-cultural experience and meant so much to those kids, no matter what ethnic background they were. I don't know who had a better time, him or the kids.
He's a great ambassador for the Edmonton Oilers, a great ambassador for the sport of hockey and a great young man.
Oilers Team Photographer Andy Devlin talks of the images he's taken as part of the Oilers organization
There was a lot of buzz in the building when Columbus was in town. I took a disproportionate number of photographs of Connor, as I often do. He is one of the best players in the world and I really feel privileged to be in the National Hockey League with this team.
I was just trying to put the camera on him as much as possible. He scored a spectacular goal and the place erupted. He celebrated by turning left towards me. He skated right by the photo hole and with the lens that you normally use to shoot hockey -- a 70mm to 200mm lens -- when the subject gets too close, you can't shoot him because he goes out of focus. He was right on that edge. To tell you the truth, I wish that image was a little sharper but the moment was fantastic.
In our latest Sunday In Depth read more about Oilers Assistant Coach Jay Woodcroft, his hockey family and coaching influences
/ EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer
"Our family is a hockey family, in the truest Canadian definition of the term."
The scouting report on the three Woodcroft brothers varies with their differing personalities.
Craig - the oldest - is intense, serious and detail oriented. Todd, the middle brother, is intelligent and quick witted. Jay is funny and also highly intelligent, as well as meticulous. They all share several traits - as is the case with most siblings - including the well-deserved label of being hard working. The latter is what the Woodcroft family is known for.
Perhaps more than anything, all three share their passion for hockey.
Recount narratives of the Oilers former uniforms in EdmontonOilers.com's first long-form feature of the 2017-18 season
From Al Hamilton's perspective, it was Bill Hunter and the Oilers management who exalted the Oilers silks. "They liked them so much that they never gave us our jerseys at the end of the year," the former Oilers defender said. "They kept them. They were more in love with them than we were." Legend Glen Sather later established a club code. "As soon as he became coach, he introduced the rule that the sweater and the logo never went on the floor," said Short, adding that it was adopted from the Montreal Canadiens. "I don't know if it ever got to be, 'We're proud of the logo,' but there was always a strong feeling for the sweater, for the Oilers… and the reality was that this was the Oilers jersey and those who wore it were indoctrinated."
Revisit the Oilers memorable 2006 playoff run in this week's In Depth
He barreled his way down the tunnel and burst through the doors that led to the Oilers dressing room at Rexall Place, right hand clutched to his mouth and blood pouring from his face - though he didn't feel much. The adrenaline coursing through his body took care of much of the immediate pain.
"There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going back out there."
Former Oilers forward Ryan Smyth was always a believer in leaving it all on the ice and, that particular night, he did just that. He left it all on the ice - including three of his bottom teeth and a fair amount of blood.
The refs scooped up the teeth and worked on getting the blood scraped off the ice while Smyth went off to be attended to by the team physician.
Not 10 minutes later, to the surprise of many, Smyth reappeared on the bench, but not without several stitches in his upper lip. He was back out on the ice minutes later.
Drake Caggiula and Matt Benning have found their fit with the Oilers together this season
"I was 5-foot-6 and about 150 pounds when I got drafted into the OHL."
Oilers rookie forward Drake Caggiula was well aware that his smaller stature wasn't necessarily turning any heads when he was selected in the third round of the 2010 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Draft at the age of 16.
An in-depth look at who Eric Gryba is behind the beard
/ EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer
The loud crack of the thick ice expanding and forming below makes a sound akin to that of train cars joining together. At night, the sound strikes an eerie, ominous tone that would send those with weaker nerves running - sliding - for the shoreline.
In a small ice-fishing shack on Slave Lake, in the dead of the Canadian winter, in temperatures ranging from -11 to -31 Celsius that week - and with nothing to block the biting wind - Eric Gryba and his wife, Cate, were enjoying the bye week in a way that was uniquely them. The sound of cracking ice was mildly unnerving, but nothing to abandon their vacation for.
Noun : a basic nerve cell that builds the nervous system and transmits information throughout the body.
Just like a neuron sending and receiving information throughout our body while calculating a response, the Event Command Centre is the cell that keeps Rogers Place pulsating. At only 120 square feet, this small space overlooks the bowl, with the ability to see every nook and cranny of the building - thanks in large part to closed-circuit television (CCTV).
Ryan Smyth was soaking in the scene around him, his sweat-soaked jersey and equipment stuck firmly to his body. The veteran of more than 1,200 NHL games had experienced many career-defining moments over the years, but this night stuck out amongst them all.
Smyth roamed the Rexall Place dressing room - carrying more than just the weight of all that damp gear. It was the weight of the emotional night that was, that sat with him as he looked around the room at his smiling companions.
"It is very emotional for sure, when you part ways with your equipment and hang it up for the last time," Smyth said.
Maroon has always believed he could be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL, but it took an off-season of devotion and an opportunity with one of the game's best young talents to spark what has been a career season for the man affectionately referred to by fans and teammates alike as Big Rig.
When you looked to the banners that hung in the hallowed rafters of Rexall Place, that now make their home on the north end of newly-christened Rogers Place, there's no shortage of evidence indicating the NHL powerhouse that was the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s - so much so, that the banners follow a predictable pattern through the mid-to-late 80s.
The Great One helped paved the way for hockey in The Golden State
This story was originally posted on Jan. 15, 2017.
Californians are treated to a variety of entertainment options on any given night. With 15 current professional sports teams across the MLB, NBA, MLS and NFL to root for, they still spread California love to Canada's most cherished pastime.
Much of that is attributed to Wayne Gretzky, who dedicated 20 years to the National Hockey League and suited up with four separate franchises, including the L.A. Kings.
"It's all about the game and everything I have in life is because of hockey," he said.
That sentiment is reversed in California: everything hockey in The Golden State derives from The Great One.
"Nobody probably ever thought that we'd play an outdoor game in Bakersfield in January 40 years ago," said Gretzky, who went from being Edmonton's adopted son to Hollywood's hockey luminary in a seismic trade on August 9, 1988.
Without Gretzky, would hockey in Bakersfield or Hollywood have even been a reality 30 years later?
It started out like any other post-game interview.
As a tired Patrick Maroon emerged from the dressing room - having just secured the game-tying goal, helping lead the team to an overtime victory against the St. Louis Blues on December 19 - Gene Principe prepared to go on air.
2016 was a year filled with exciting moments, memorable games and franchise-shaping transactions for the Edmonton Oilers. Take a look back at some of the biggest things to happen to the club in the year 2016.
The Oilers scouting staff will attend the 2017 World Junior Championship to scout the next crop of talent knocking on the NHL's door
Amid the shopping, errand-running, gift-giving, and bustling schedule of the holiday season, the best time for a phone call with Oilers Vice President of Player Personnel Duane Sutter is when he's on the road gripping a steering wheel.
"This time of year I got more time when I'm driving," Sutter says. "Always busy in this world."
As a bull rider positions himself in the chute, atop a snarling, red-eyed, 1600-plus-pound monster, there's one man standing in the dirt waiting to face the beast with him.
The bullfighter positions himself in the arena, right in the thick of the awaiting chaos, poised to assist. The chute opens and the angry, snot-flinging mass of muscle kicks its way free from his steel cage and attempts to send his rider home with some broken bones and a headache - or much worse.
Big steps on the ice and big steps off it as Cam Talbot saw his life change, and family double
He finished a rink-side walk-off interview and headed down the tunnel to the dressing room as the cheers of the Oil Country faithful, lined up in the stands, faded behind him.
When he entered the room, teammate Matt Hendricks handed him a Harley Davidson motorcycle helmet to wear-a new team tradition, courtesy of Hendricks. The helmet was to be awarded to the Player of the Game and that night- Cam Talbot was its very first recipient.
Joey Moss is the most famous man in Edmonton, and he doesn't even know it
"Kenny! Kenny! Joey's hurt!"
A panicked shout could be heard coming from the Oilers dressing room in 2008.
Ken Lowe, Head Medical Trainer at the time for the Edmonton Oilers, rushed out of his office where he had been quietly working on his post-practice training notes, to find Joey Moss hunched over, grimacing in pain on the dressing room floor while holding his shoulder.
Looking over at Equipment Manager Lyle Kulchisky, better known as "Sparky", Lowe could see a smirk climb across his face, as he realized they were mock wrestling yet again.
The Oilers dressing room has gone through many different variations and permutations over the years. Take a look at the evolution of the room.
The Edmonton Oilers dressing room has gone through many different variations and permutations over the years, from the WHA at the old Edmonton Gardens followed by Northlands Coliseum to NHL entry in 1979 and then through the life of the Coliseum until Rexall Place closed its doors this past April.
An unassuming box of pucks once shared a space with a lawnmower and garden shovel. Now the contents of that box act as a primary display inside the newly unveiled Oilers Hall of Fame room at Rogers Place.
When Oilers Head Equipment Manager, Barrie Stafford, first caught wind that Glen "Slats" Sather had saved many of the record-setting pucks from his time spent as head coach and general manager of the Oilers in the 1980s, he quickly jumped in his car and drove the four hours to Banff to retrieve the box that had been safely tucked away inside Sather's garage.
Milan Lucic sits in a stall of a quiet auxilary locker room in Rogers Place. Three months and some change after signing a long-term deal with Edmonton, Lucic is comfortable in his new orange and blue workout gear. It fits him.