I wonder what happened to the kids from this picture? The one without the hat went on to be the greatest player the NHL had ever seen, and today somewhere he will be celebrating his 50th birthday.

Wayne Gretzky spoiled Oiler fans for over a decade in the 1980s, and while many of the young Oilers never saw him play in his prime, they should be aware he is a big reason they are all millionaires and should honour his 50th birthday by getting a win in Dallas.


***My buddy Jordan has this picture of Wayne in his house. We have never been able to find out if he was promoting something, because there is no logo anywhere. The short shorts, high socks and permed hair is a unique look for Wayne, and one that I’m sure would give his buddies lots of ammo to rip him on.***

Did you know that in 1982, the year Gretzky scored 92 goals and 212 points, he only scored one goal in the final eight games. He had 91 goals in the first 72 games, and then shockingly only scored one more. The Oilers scored 44 goals in those final eight games and he only got one.

Had he kept the pace of his first 72 games he would have scored 101 that year. If you ever wondered what made Gretzky great it was listening to him talk about that season, and that now, many years later, it still bothers him that he only scored once in eight games and didn’t get 100 goals.

The guy was heartless when it came to playing. If he was up 5-1, he wanted to make it eight or nine to one. That’s what made him great.

Gretzky’s drive to be the best made him the best, and I doubt anyone will ever come close to his offensive totals or hockey sense, but with every passing game I see more of that great drive and determination in Taylor Hall.

Hall is a historian of the game, and prior to the road trip I asked him about Gretzky. Hall rattled off all of Gretzky’s greatest records. 50 goals in 39 games, 92-goal season, 163 assists in a year, 215 points, four 200-point seasons and of course four Stanley Cups. It was clear in Hall’s voice how much passion and admiration he had for Gretzky, and for any of the elite past and current players that I’ve ever asked him about.

You will hear many people talk about Gretzky today, and the most common word that pops up when describing him seems to be passion. Gretzky oozed passion and a true love for the game, and he was constantly pushing himself and his teammates to be better.

It is unfair to compare Hall to Gretzky or even Mark Messier, but the one common denominator amongst the three  is a devine passion for the game and a will to win.

Last night, Hall dominated the game from start to finish. He seemed to create something on every shift, and when he starts to finish off half of the chances he creates he will be close to a 50-goal scorer. Watching him drive  to the net  almost through the net in the 3rd period, with seemingly no regard for his body, and not complaining to the ref afterwards was another sign of his win-at-all-cost attitude.

Hall is well aware that it is Gretzky’s birthday today, and while they don’t have an actual connection, something tells me that the future of the Oilers might honour the Great One with another first star performance. Tonight is one of those nights where the Oilers should remember and honour their greatest player.

Have Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger share some insight into what made Gretzky tick. Hockey players are just like you and I when it comes to hearing stories. They eat it up, they love listening to tales of the past, and when the stories are about the most prolific scorer of all-time you know they will be all ears.

*Today on my show we will have some of Gretzky’s former teammates and guys who knew him on to tell some interesting tales about the Great One.*


The Oilers ended their five game losing streak in Phoenix last night with a gutsy 4-3 win. The Oilers played very well, especially the Hall/Horcoff/Penner line, and they didn’t skate in Dallas this morning. No word who will start in goal, but considering Dubnyk got the win, and Khabibulin has lost ten in a row, I’d come back with Dubnyk.

It sounds like Jordan Eberle might be ready to go after the All-Star break, and that Brule is getting closer as well. It will interesting to see what decisions will be made between now and next Wednesday. I can’t see Linus Omark being sent back to OKC, so if Eberle and Brule get activated someone other than Liam Reddox needs to be shipped out.

I wouldn’t rule out a minor trade happening either. 


GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the last game before the All-Star break, and in honour of the Great One, both teams decide to entertain the fans with some old fashioned end-to-end action. The Oilers have outshot the Stars 73-44 in two games and lost both, but tonight the Oilers will skate away with an exciting 7-6 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Stars have struggled handling the Oilers speed in the previous two meetings and Magnus Paajarvi and Hall will give the Stars fits all night. Hall will score a pair of goals and head to Carolina with 18 and put him on pace to become only the 4th Oiler rookie to score 30 goals in a season. Jason Arnott, 33, Jari Kurri, 32, and Glenn Anderson, 30, were the other three.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In his last game as a single man, Dustin Penner will light it up in Dallas. Penner is getting married over the All-Star break to the lovely Jessica Welch.* Penner will honour the end of singlehood with a hat trick, an assist and he’ll drop the mitts when Mark Fistric tries to take a run at Hall. After the game the Oilers will serenade Penner with the opening lyrics from True Companion by Marc Cohn….

Baby i’ve been searching like everybody else
Can’t say nothing different about myself
Sometimes i’m an angel
And sometimes i’m cruel
And when it comes to love
I’m just another fool
Yes, i’ll climb a mountain
I’m gonna swim the sea
There ain’t no act of god girl
Could keep you safe from me
My arms are reaching out
Out across this canyon
I’m asking you to be my true companion
True companion
True companion

Gene Principe will be doing an interview outside the room, and the viewers will hear the song in the background, and immediately you’ll think that Private Eyes by Hall and Oates, wasn’t that bad after all.

*Penner is actually getting married, I wouldn’t make that up. Best of luck to him and his future bride. 

    • DimebagDave

      Good point but alot of people would argue that a good win in a fight will help with momentum, where a loss can kill any momentum you may have had going. I agree that probably no one would have fought Smac tonight but Stortini winning once in a while would definately help us more than him playing the roll of punching bag more often than not.

      • Crackenbury

        Maybe Stortini is in Penner’s wedding party this weekend and didn’t want to mess up the photos with a busted up face. Can’t think of any other reason to embarrass yourself and the team the way he did.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Have to agree on the Stortini charade.

        If Dubnyk starts last night we still lose this game, probably 5-1 instead of 3-1, Khabibulin kept us in the game right till the end. Doesn’t matter how well your goaltender plays when you only put one in at the other end.

      • Eddie Shore

        I agree. I can’t understand Stortini’s unwillingness to throw punches. If you don’t want to fight, don’t fight. If you do, then do it and do it right. He has to have seen tape of himself “fighting” at some point and there is no way he can’t see the difference in the way he “fights” vs the way every other player in the history of the NHL fights. Just awful.

      • When a guy has his hand up to his face like that, odds are he’s protecting an injury. He got hit pretty bad on that side a few games ago (Orr?). Buddy probably has a fractured cheek bone or a broken nose, so he was trying to avoid getting hit from that side. Think about it. Zack has been getting healthy scratched alot lately. My guess is unless his back is broken he’s not going to scratch himself. No how, no way.

        • Eddie Shore

          If he’s protecting an injury then why is he dropping his gloves. If he’s hurt, then the coach knows and isn’t going to be mad at him for not fighting. Episodes like last night aren’t going to help his cause of playing every game. He had already drawn the penalty and really there was no need to fight Barch. I’m not exactly sure how he thinks accepting Barch’s invitation then holding on for dear life is going to inspire the troops.

          I know you like Zack and I do too but you have to admit that when he does that it is embarassing.

          • I’ll admit I was a bit perplexed seeing Zack do that stuff last night. It really seemed like he was protecting an injury to me anyways. As far as why he’s dropping the gloves, he knows that’s part of his job description. Hurt or not, he has to show up at least. Especially right now when it seems he’s right on the edge of being on this team next year.

            Regardless, this would be an excellent line of questioning for Gregor or Brownlee to pursue. Although if Zack IS hurt, he’d never say anything publicly about it anyways.

  • forestscooter

    This game is a joke to the refs, but ultimately to the league. Give me a break, sidney is out, hemsky is out, concussions are rampant, we want to protect against head shots… ??? really ???

    ohhh.. except against to the lower ranked teams apparently. Every penalty was deserved against the oilers, but where are the dallas penalties (and suspensions???) how obvious do these hits have to be… gagner, fraser, jones ??????????????????????????

    • Horcsky

      Yeah, I was actually shocked about the number of calls going the Oilers way until those high hits that were missed, as mentioned by you.

      That Fraser hit was pretty huge interference, and Gagner and Jones obviously got their bells rung. I can see why Gagner took the misconduct.

      Still, the Oilers could help themselves by actually protecting themselves once in awhile. Get your stick up on the guy running you, or take a cheap shot against an opponent for a change. Jacques half-running Morrow after the whistle is a start, but Khabibulin dished out more justice with his blocker tonight than the Oilers have the last 3 years. No wonder teams take liberties with our guys.

    • Hallberle

      Gagner gets a crosscheck in the chin, Reddox a butt end under the eye. and Jones a forearm in the face. I know there were a lot of fights, but there wasn’t a much of a response to those head shots. Maybe the league will look at the Gagner one.

      • neojanus

        The Oilers really out shot the Stars — it comes down to the Stars having a better goaltender tonight and the Oilers failing to sink some bounces.

        It’d be nice if we were playing a goalie that doesn’t make two bad decisions costing us goals. Take those two misreads away, and it’s 1-1. I know a person can’t tally a game that way, but Khabibulin is showing similar play virtually every game right now.

        There has to be some responsibility taken for not being there when the team needs some standard saves. Flashes of brilliance do nothing if one fails to remain consistent as often as the opposing goalie.

        It’s not all his fault. That would be ridiculous, but DD is the guy right now.

  • neojanus

    I don’t like leaning harshly into goalies because the defense usually has a great deal to do with it. Geez, look at how Brodeur turned it around since Lemaire started actually making the Devils play proper defensive hockey.

    Saying that, I have to agree with DoubleJ on this one. Khabi has been less than mediocre (literally less than NHL mediocre) for much of the season. He doesn’t give the Oilers the best chance to win at the moment and he takes away from the time Dubnyk could be using to master the game of hockey (something that Renney preaches about often now).

    If the season is about “learning to play the game”, give Dubnyk the role of starter for awhile. He’s earned it with his play (for the most part). It cannot hurt this team at all right now.

    I think Khabi shows a lack of intensity and emotion at this point on top of playing far less than his best. The defense looks far more comfortable in front of Dubnyk.

    Part of me thinks that the Oilers should just eat the contract and find another starter. I don’t see this position becoming stronger next season.

  • Spydyr

    If Stortini had just covered up this last fight there might be a valid argument for an injury. That is not the case. He covers up every fight.Hence the nickname Huggiebear.It is also the best nickname on the Oilers…..because it is true.

  • Maggie the Monkey

    Seriously!!! That is what is whong with todays F!sting community. The great one’s bday and thats what we get. Shame on you. You should be BANNED!!!