Hogtown: The Birth of OilersNation

Lowetide
December 01 2010 06:23PM

They still play the game from time to time on NHL Classics. Wayne Gretzky in Toronto, 1980 spring. Mere months before old hockey men in Hogtown could be heard saying "he wouldn't have made the 1950-51 Leafs at ALL" and there he was on that night in historic Maple Leaf Gardens slicing and dicing. It was a night to remember, and the dawn of Oiler nation. 

March 29, 1980. Edmonton at Toronto. It's hard to describe the feeling westerners (and Oiler fans) felt about entry into the National Hockey League. Suffice to say the only way we were going to get into the inner circle of hockey was through the outlaw saloon doors. Bill Hunter, we love you.

And that night in Toronto, as Leafs fans cheered their boy Gretzky and we cheered his future, it was like the doors were finally open to Canada's prairies.

Gretzky was sublime. The game highlights are here. The boxscore is here. That game--like a hundred other little things (many documented in the quintessential book on that Oiler team--THE GAME OF OUR LIVES) galvanized the Edmonton Oilers as a special team and won lifelong devotion from a legion of fans.

When people talk about the Oilers fanbase being rabid or intense, it's probably because that group was born at the very beginning of one of hockey's greatest teams. It was impossible to watch the skill and creativity and not be drawn in. The Edmonton Oilers, once they gained entry into the NHL, were immediately a big story. They ripped through the 1980's, going supernova when their owner turned to Scrooge.

They were special. And that road trip long ago, the one that took them to Atlanta, Toronto and Detroit was another impact moment in the development of that special team. They won all three games on their way to the playoffs. Against Philadelphia, they lost quickly (3-0) but would exact revenge down the line.

--

The current young Oilers should never be compared in talent with the glory boys. However, there are times during this rebuild when old men recall those special times and see a glimmer of the storied past. We thank this new generation of Oiler hopefuls for the jog down memory lane, and promise to enjoy this group for what they are: unique, gifted and getting better by the day.

No pressure, though. We need to let them write their own story.

--

One of the truly exceptional writers in this city is Colby Cosh. This link gets you to his 2003 archives and part way down the page is a wonderful description of the game. I wish I could link directly but sadly don't have the internet acumen to do it. So, you have to promise me you'll read it.

Cosh's account of that old game is as always spot on.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
Avatar
#1 The Real Scuba Steve
December 01 2010, 06:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

Fist again.

Avatar
#2 Wanyes bastard child
December 01 2010, 07:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

I thought ON was born after after Smyth got traded and Wanye and Bingofuel were crying in their beers one night?

Avatar
#3 Aleslav Smidsky
December 01 2010, 11:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props
They're $hittie wrote:

a little off topic but Gagner has just moved into top 30 in centerman scoring, a little premature but can we now consider him a first line center for the time being

Wouldn't that make him the worst 1st line centre in the league?

Avatar
#4 Shapeman
December 01 2010, 06:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

~ah, go FIST yourself!~

*mutters under his breath about seniors these days*

Avatar
#5 sizedoesmatter
December 01 2010, 06:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

pierre maguire is not annoying tonight.maybe its the three beers

Avatar
#6 John Chambers
December 01 2010, 07:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

What Oilers team am I watching? A lottery pick might not be in the cards this year. I feel lukewarm about this.

Avatar
#7 The Real Scuba Steve
December 01 2010, 07:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Alright Penner!!!!

Avatar
#9 Dan the Man
December 01 2010, 08:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I love how helpless the 2 leaf D-men look when Gretz is behind the net. They each grabbed a post and hung on like frightened children.

Absolutely beautiful.

Avatar
#10 Etown rebel
December 01 2010, 08:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Looks like renney found some chemistry in all his lines last few games. They keep it up and we could be 500 by christmas!

Avatar
#11 gongshow
December 01 2010, 08:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The boxscore from that night in Toronto shows Gretzky had 6 points, Ashby (who the f is ashby?) had 6 points and an 8 - 5 game that was won by the Oil had zero powerplay goals.

Them were the days.

Avatar
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Damn it, Penner!!! Get on board or **** off!

Two wins in a row, and on the road nonetheless, is right where I draw the line. Heaven help Renney if we beat those losers in TO!

Avatar
#13 David S
December 01 2010, 09:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Bicepus Maximus - Peter, The Great. Potter, the Goat. wrote:

Damn it, Penner!!! Get on board or **** off!

Two wins in a row, and on the road nonetheless, is right where I draw the line. Heaven help Renney if we beat those losers in TO!

~Yeah. Same goes for Gagner, Hemsky and Horcoff. Get with the program losers.~

Avatar
#14 Dutchscooter
December 01 2010, 09:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
gongshow wrote:

The boxscore from that night in Toronto shows Gretzky had 6 points, Ashby (who the f is ashby?) had 6 points and an 8 - 5 game that was won by the Oil had zero powerplay goals.

Them were the days.

Don Ashby played 188 NHL games (24 for the Oil) and was playing in the minors when be was killed in a car crash in BC.

Avatar
#15 Dave Niven
December 01 2010, 09:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

"One of the truly exceptional writers in this city is Colby Cosh."

... sorry never read writers who are strident and biased except here on the ON.

Avatar
#16 Crash
December 01 2010, 10:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
David S wrote:

~Yeah. Same goes for Gagner, Hemsky and Horcoff. Get with the program losers.~

~Don't forget that AHL goaltender at best, Dubnyk~

Avatar
#17 Wanyes bastard child
December 01 2010, 10:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Lowetide wrote:

True. But this post was an effort to claim all lands west of the Mississippi when no one was looking. :-)

Touche ;)

Avatar
#18 416oil
December 01 2010, 10:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

while gretz was busy getting 5 points the real 99 wilfy paimer was ripping a hat trick

Avatar
#19 They're $hittie
December 01 2010, 11:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

a little off topic but Gagner has just moved into top 30 in centerman scoring, a little premature but can we now consider him a first line center for the time being

Avatar
#20 They're $hittie
December 01 2010, 11:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Aleslav Smidsky

no because there are teams with two in the top 30.

Avatar
#21 Aleslav Smidsky
December 01 2010, 11:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@They're $hittie

So, he would be a third line centre on those teams?

Avatar
#22 Team Hall
December 02 2010, 12:14AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Yes, well the Pens have a pretty good third line centre named Staal, Jordan. Couturier has been called Eric Staal on offense, Jordan Staal on defense. I think that is our first line centre.

Avatar
#23 BK
December 02 2010, 06:39AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Aleslav Smidsky wrote:

Wouldn't that make him the worst 1st line centre in the league?

LMAO! Yes, the Oilers have a 30th place centre EMERGING 4 years in the NHL!

I'll take "SIGNS THAT YOUR IN A REBUILD" for 500 please Alex!

Avatar
#24 VMR
December 02 2010, 08:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Did you see that boxscore? The oilers were outshot 46-28, that team will never amount to anything. Ha-ha.

Avatar
#25 Senator Theo
December 02 2010, 09:53AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I know it's only a few games, but it really feels like we're starting to see something special develop on this team. Should be very fun to watch over the next few years.

Avatar
#26 Boris
December 02 2010, 10:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I am one of the old men that LT talks about in the article. I thought it was my dad that was the old man....go figure.

Anyway back in the summer I said on ON that this team would be exciting to watch. Still it will take a couple of years to get to contending for the cup.

Last night when I left Don Cherrys to go to the Oil Kings game the score was 3-1 but I was happy with the action and the promise of what could be coming. It was hard to believe that they came back to win...It is not glory days but it is still something to see !!!!

Comments are closed for this article.