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Unselfish ’84 Oilers returning to Edmonton to relive and give back

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
Photos by Oilers TV

Former Oilers radio play-by-play voice Rod Phillips said it best when speaking about the 1984 Stanley Cup championship team, “It was a glorious time.”

The 1983-84 Oilers set the NHL ablaze, torching several records and winning 57 games on their path to their first-ever Stanley Cup title, defeating the New York Islanders in just five games.

The ’84 Oilers will come together in Edmonton on October 10, for a 30th anniversary reunion commemorating that championship run. Fans are invited to purchase tickets (available Friday on Ticketmaster for $99) and attend to take part in reliving the magic and the memories.

“It’s a really special group,” Wayne Gretzky said via Skype during Tuesday’s announcement. “We beat a really great hockey club, a dynasty team that taught us how to win from the previous year of unfortunately not winning.”

Gretzky captained the Oilers to become one of the greatest teams in the history of the NHL. They set a league record with 446 goals that season (Gretzky scored 87). Three players scored over 50 goals as the team set records for comeback victories (27) and eight-game winning streaks (three).

That magical season culminated in the hoisting of the franchise’s first Cup.

“It was one of the most exciting days of my broadcast career,” Phillips said. “May 19, 1984. Yeah, that was date and the Oilers first Stanley Cup Championship. It was a glorious time. It was fabulous for the kids on the hockey team, it was great for the organization, it was great for the city, it was great for the NHL and it was just an absolutely fabulous run. We didn’t know at the time that it would be the first of five, we didn’t even think about that at the time. Because when you win the first one, the first one is always the best. They were all great obviously but the first one is always the best and those memories will never go away.”

The night the Oilers won that championship holds a special place in everyone’s heart, not only the players but for the rest of the staff as well.

“It probably was one of the more exciting things to ever happen to me in my life,” said Barrie Stafford, longtime Oilers Head Equipment Manager. “I’ll never forget standing in the little corner of the bench, looking up at the clock when we finally won the cup. It is really indescribable. It is the highlight of my career really.”

Photo by Oilers TV.

What made the ’84 Oilers so special was their unselfishness. Both Gretzky and Kevin Lowe (Oilers defenceman from 1979-1990) spoke to the media and a group of fans on Tuesday to announce the reunion and a recurring theme was the unselfishness of the players in that locker room.

“The season started off with Lee Fogolin unselfishly giving up the captaincy to Wayne,” Lowe recalled. “I think at the time it was just the right thing to do but it’s not like anybody was talking about it. It really was the beginning of an unselfish year for the entire team.”

“The really unique thing about our team was whether Kevin McClelland scored or Mark Messier scored or Jari Kurri scored, we all felt like we all scored,” Gretzky said. “It was such an unselfish group so we were always so happy for each other.”

The unselfishness on the ice 30 years ago now transitions to off the ice today, which is why the proceeds of the October reunion will benefit the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

“It was important for all of us involved that we create a charitable legacy in the community,” Lowe said. “I think that was Wayne’s idea that we wanted to leave a legacy in honour of the ’84 team. That team played and succeeded. Many of those players stayed, many left and to honour that team and to leave an imprint… there is a statue of Wayne but we need something for the team as well. And that legacy at the Stollery will be in honour of the ’84 cup team. There is no better place and no better partner than the Stollery.”

Lowe, Gretzky and the rest of the 1984 team decided to give back to the city and the fans that made them feel so comfortable during their playing days.

“We started talking about doing something really special and bringing this team that won the first Stanley Cup in Edmonton back to reminisce and selfishly have some fun together. A lot of players met a lot of great friends in Edmonton over the years and maybe haven’t seen people for a long time. Just as important is to be able to raise money for a great cause. This team was always not only unselfish on the ice, obviously by their record and winning championships, but to each and every man if you ever asked them to help out with a charity event every guy was always more than willing to help each other,” Gretzky said.

So now those Oilers legends return to Edmonton for “the first time that the group has been together in Edmonton since hoisting that cup in 1984.”

It’s been 30 years since the ’84 Oilers took home that coveted hardware. Phillips is right in saying it was a glorious time and like Lowe said on Tuesday, “The timing is right for us to honour that group.”

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