TOP 100 OILERS: CRAIG MUNI (38)

Robin Brownlee
December 22 2016 07:00AM

As a kid growing up in Toronto, Craig Muni’s dream was to one day play in the NHL for his hometown Maple Leafs. While he’d realize that questionable achievement, albeit modestly by playing in just 19 games over parts of four seasons in Hogtown after being drafted from the Kingston Canadians, Muni made his mark – it might be more accurate to say he left his mark – as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

Muni’s calling card was the good-old fashioned hip-check, which was already something of a lost art by the time he arrived in Edmonton as a free agent for the 1986-87 season. Muni was a hellacious – those who suffered shredded knee ligaments along the way might say he was dirty -- open-ice hitter who spent 493 games patrolling the blueline for the Oilers. He was Bryan Marchment before Mush came along.

Craig Muni

Defense -- shoots L

Born July 19th, 1962 -- Toronto, ONT 

Height 6.02 -- Weight 200 [188 cm/91 kg]

Drafted by Toronto Maple Leafs

Round 2 #25 overall 1980 NHL Entry Draft 

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1981-82

19

TOR

3

0

0

0

-4

2

0


1982-83

20

TOR

2

0

1

1

-3

0

2

0.0

1984-85

22

TOR

8

0

0

0

0

0

1

0.0

1985-86

23

TOR

6

0

1

1

-3

4

2

0.0

1986-87

24

EDM

79

7

22

29

45

85

69

10.1

1987-88

25

EDM

72

4

15

19

32

77

56

7.1

1988-89

26

EDM

69

5

13

18

43

71

40

12.5

1989-90

27

EDM

71

5

12

17

22

81

42

11.9

1990-91

28

EDM

76

1

9

10

10

77

47

2.1

1991-92

29

EDM

54

2

5

7

11

34

38

5.3

1992-93

30

TOT

81

0

11

11

-14

75

60

0.0

1992-93

30

EDM

72

0

11

11

-15

67

51

0.0

1992-93

30

CHI

9

0

0

0

1

8

9

0.0

1993-94

31

TOT

82

2

12

14

31

66

45

4.4

1993-94

31

CHI

9

0

4

4

3

4

6

0.0

1993-94

31

BUF

73

2

8

10

28

62

39

5.1

1994-95

32

BUF

40

0

6

6

-4

36

32

0.0

1995-96

33

TOT

72

1

7

8

-6

106

41

2.4

1995-96

33

BUF

47

0

4

4

-12

69

25

0.0

1995-96

33

WIN

25

1

3

4

6

37

16

6.3

1996-97

34

PIT

64

0

4

4

-6

36

19

0.0

1997-98

35

DAL

40

1

1

2

0

25

12

8.3

7 yrs


EDM

493

24

87

111

148

492

343

7.0

4 yrs


TOR

19

0

2

2

-10

6

5

0.0

3 yrs


BUF

160

2

18

20

12

167

96

2.1

2 yrs


CHI

18

0

4

4

4

12

15

0.0

1 yr


DAL

40

1

1

2

0

25

12

8.3

1 yr


WIN

25

1

3

4

6

37

16

6.3

1 yr


PIT

64

0

4

4

-6

36

19

0.0

Career



819

28

119

147

154

775

506

5.5

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1986-87

24

EDM

14

0

2

2

2

17

11

0.0

1987-88

25

EDM

19

0

4

4

7

31

11

0.0

1988-89

26

EDM

7

0

3

3

-1

8

4

0.0

1989-90

27

EDM

22

0

3

3

7

16

13

0.0

1990-91

28

EDM

18

0

3

3

5

20

10

0.0

1991-92

29

EDM

3

0

0

0

-4

2

3

0.0

1992-93

30

CHI

4

0

0

0

0

2

5

0.0

1993-94

31

BUF

7

0

0

0

1

4

6

0.0

1994-95

32

BUF

5

0

1

1

0

2

3

0.0

1995-96

33

WIN

6

0

1

1

-2

2

1

0.0

1996-97

34

PIT

3

0

0

0

0

0

0


1997-98

35

DAL

5

0

0

0

-2

4

1

0.0

Career



113

0

17

17

13

108

68

0.0

NOTABLE

An average skater with modest offensive skills, Muni was one of the NHL’s most feared hitters during his time with the Oilers, a tenure that saw him win three Stanley Cups. With all the dazzling skill the Oilers had up front with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson, it was Muni who took care of the dirty work on the back end, low-bridging opposing forwards as a penalty killer and third-pairing guy.

Muni was decidedly unspectacular in most facets of the game – until he sent somebody cart-wheeling with one of those hip-bone-connected-to-the-knee-bone hits. Muni was, without a doubt, a player who would be deemed a predatory hitter today. I can’t imagine how much he’d pay in fines and how many games he’d spend serving suspensions under the rules now.

Here’s a clip of Muni wrecking Bobby Carpenter of the Washington Capitals during his days in Toronto. Muni’s bouts of mayhem aside, he was a very effective defender in a defensive corps that included Paul Coffey, Charlie Huddy, Kevin Lowe, Steve Smith and Jeff Beukeboom during his stay with the Oilers. While it’s an unquestionably flawed stat, Muni was a collective plus-142 during his first four seasons with the Oilers (in the previous four seasons Huddy was a ridiculous plus-192).

THE STORY

Craig Muni

The bottom line on Muni, his value to the teams he played on, was that he was an extremely effective defender, penalty killer and shot-blocker with a nasty streak a mile wide. There wasn’t any pretense or dazzle to his game. He was all steak, no sizzle, content to let all the talent around him lug the puck, make the plays and score the goals.

Muni would score just 24 goals in his time with the Oilers – opposing players would yell, “Heads up” to unsuspecting teammates more times than that in a single season when Muni was out cruising around like a shark sizing up unsuspecting prey. Playing that way took a toll, of course, and Muni eventually broke down and was slowed by a string of nagging injuries.

While Muni would make stops in Chicago, Buffalo, Winnipeg, Pittsburgh and Dallas when his days with the Oilers were done, he had his best years and enjoyed the most success in Edmonton. He could be a nasty bit of business, he knew his role and he played it to perfection on the way to those three Cups with the Oilers.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

PREVIOUSLY:

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Seanaconda
December 22 2016, 07:18AM
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The schedule for releasing these things suck. Is it so oilersnation has a post every Thursday for 2 years? Or will another writer do their list of top 100 oilers once yours is finally done

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#2 Mike Modano's Dog
December 22 2016, 07:31AM
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Muni was always a personal favourite of mine. Love those hits! When he was on the ice you always knew your end was safe. Don't think the opponents thought the same thing. :)

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#3 El Guapo
December 22 2016, 07:53AM
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One of my prized possessions is a 1990 Stanley Cup pennant that Craig Muni and Steve Smith signed for me. My dad got it, and an autographed picture of each of them, when they were here in Fort McMurray doing a promotion at the car dealership that my dad worked at at the time. He went out for a few too many pops with them and decided that 2:00 in the morning was a great time to give the swag to me (who was almost 13 at the time). A night I'll never forget.

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#4 baggedmilk
December 22 2016, 08:31AM
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Seanaconda wrote:

The schedule for releasing these things suck. Is it so oilersnation has a post every Thursday for 2 years? Or will another writer do their list of top 100 oilers once yours is finally done

My apologies for holding the gun to your head and forcing you to read it. That's poor Christmas spirit on my part. My bad.

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#5 Seanaconda
December 22 2016, 08:33AM
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baggedmilk wrote:

My apologies for holding the gun to your head and forcing you to read it. That's poor Christmas spirit on my part. My bad.

So grumpy but if anything I want the opposite I want them faster. Not enough brownlee in my life. If anything a Christmas gift would be 2 of these in a week

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#6 Colin M
December 22 2016, 09:42AM
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Seanaconda wrote:

So grumpy but if anything I want the opposite I want them faster. Not enough brownlee in my life. If anything a Christmas gift would be 2 of these in a week

Yeah! 2x a week Mr. Brownlee. I look forward to these 😊

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#7 whateverhappenedtoearledwards
December 22 2016, 10:13AM
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The Craig Muni play I remember was in the '88 final vs the Bruins, game 3 in Bos. The Oil were down by 1 is the second and Muni took out Bruin Axelson with a hip check (today we would call it a dirty play). The Bruins were irate. On the ensuing faceoff Sather sends out Kevin McCleland and Terry O'Reilly (Bruins coach) reciprocates with John Wensink. On the ensuing faceoff Wensink drops the gloves and start throwing them, McClellan turtles. The Oil score 2 goals on the ensuing 4 minute pp and win the game and the series in a 5(that's right 5)game sweep.

The veteran coach Sather got the best of O'Reilly,I have no doubt he told McClelland not to fight back.

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#8 Seanaconda
December 22 2016, 12:56PM
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Colin M wrote:

Yeah! 2x a week Mr. Brownlee. I look forward to these 😊

I agree they are something fresh. Back when shultz was ranked in the 90s had to be over a year ago tho.

tbh I bet robin has all of these written already and they just slow release them on days they don't have better content

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