January 04 2013 07:54AM
Of all the characters to pass our way since 1972, Kelly Buchberger had the closest relationship to the fans. Screams of 'take him WIDE, Bucky!" still echo down the canyons of Rexall Place, and the next time Buchberger fails to defend the copper, orange and blue it'll be the first time.
BEFORE THE DRAFT
Selected in the 9th round, number 188 overall in the 1985 Entry draft.
The Edmonton Journal entry on him was short and sweet: 9th round, Kelly Buchberger, Moose Jaw (29 points). Suffice to say no one made a big deal of Kelly Buchberger's draft day.
Kelly Buchberger's career is a monument to hard work and determination. Drafted in the deep, deep backwoods of the draft, Buchberger rose through the ranks of Oilers prospects because he offered a combination of size, speed and selflessness that allowed the club to use him a little or a lot depending on circumstance. He began his career in Edmonton as a wide-eyed curio amongst a long list of impact players and future Hall of Famers, and ended it as a captain and respected elder in the league. Kelly Buchberger didn't cheat his employer on effort, and the fanbase responded in kind with a devotion that remains to this day.
Although as tough as anyone, Buchberger was not an expert fighter. He was a brave, brave hockey player.
- 2 Stanley Cups (1987, 1990)
- Edmonton Oilers captain: 1995-1999
- 1182 NHL regular season games
Buchberger was lost in the 1999 expansion draft to the Atlanta Thrashers.
- Craig MacTavish: "It just shows you what heart, determination and unselfish play can do for a career in terms of longevity. He's surpassed everybody's expectations in terms of what he's got out of himself. That's his story. The thing that stands out when I think of Bucky and his career is regardless of his accomplishments, the Stanley Cups, he viewed his contribution based on what he did on a nightly basis. He wanted to justify his position in the lineup every game, and it's that type of work ethic and mental toughness that has distinguished him in his career."
- Kevin Lowe: "He was as much a team player as I've seen, as close to Mess as anybody I've seen. He put anything personal second to the accomplishments of the team. He's one of the great Oilers."
- Doug Weight: "Everything he did, on and off the ice, was about being a leader. The way he played the game, the way he prepared, the way he treated his teammates and their families. He had respect for not only the authority of the coaches, but the organization. He was very loyal. As a fan, you could see his game, the blocking shots, his will to win, but I saw leadership in every aspect of his life. Every young player who played with him not only had the utmost respect for him, but learned a lot."
Kelly Buchberger is currently an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers.