NATION PROFILE: KELLY BUCHBERGER

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

Last Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)                  
Birthplace: Langenburg, Saskatchewan
   
PRE-DRAFT STATISTICS
Year Team League GP G A TP PIM
1984-85 Moose Jaw WHL 51 12 17 29 114

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.

EARLY CAREER

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.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

  • 2 Stanley Cups (1987, 1990)
  • Edmonton Oilers captain: 1995-1999
  • 1182 NHL regular season games

TRADE

Buchberger was lost in the 1999 expansion draft to the Atlanta Thrashers.

LEGACY

  • 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.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Met Bucky in a bar in Calgary after a game, he was wearing a black trench coat and I told him my favourite all-time Oiler goal and call was by Bob Cole when he scored the winning goal against Dallas after the Oil came back from a 3-0 deficit in the third in 1997. He proceeded to buy me an Old Vienna and we talked hockey for a while. Class act… 5:30 of this video:

    • Wanyes bastard child

      Being born in 1980 I missed most of the hey days but I can proudly say I was there for that game 🙂

      Down 3-0 with 5 minutes left to go in the third period I can vividly recall the stadium emptying rapidly as people were trying to beat the LRT rush. It filled back up pretty quickly for overtime 😛

    • a lg dubl dubl

      Probably not quite at the jersey-retiring level but awesome player for sure. Cut from the same cloth as guys like Strudwick and Jason Smith.

      Viva Bucky

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Not much of a Buchberger fan.

    He must hold some kinda Oiler record for bruising/breaking opponents knuckles with his cheek bones though, doesn’t he?

    Punching bag on skates.

  • RexLibris

    It’s the Buchbergers and Tikkanens that this team is going to need for the future. Having to find new targets for my Oilers idolatry after all the old vets moved on, Buchberger was an easy choice. Watching he and Marchant on a penalty kill always made me glow with pride.

  • Lofty

    Definitely defied odds to become a 17 year NHL veteran. Great captain and a great Edmontonian. Put in time to coach some of my peewee hockey practices.

    Many people don’t know his entire right leg is scar tissue from a major fire burn when he was younger.

  • Lofty

    His 20 goal season was one for the ages. Hard not to cheer for him. The broken forearm really affected him – never the same player. But didn’t tarnish his rep in my opinion. Warrior.

  • Rob...

    I remember someone on The Bear in the 90’s refer to him as a ‘stick, two skates and a heart’. The effort he put into the game was taken to 11 on a dial that was only ever supposed to go to 10.

    • I tried it at home

      I remember hearing that on the radio ( Matt Mauler,or Jake Daniels?) and I remember not a single thing was said to argue about it. We used to sit tehre sometimes and fantasize about taking Penner and transplanting Bucky’s heart. Pretty sure it would of ended badly though, the organ rejecting the host body 😛

  • heh.. as a kid, Buchberger was #1 on my “Oilers players I can’t stand”-list. It was a pretty short list as far as I can remember, pretty much dominated by Buchberger. Hated him haha

  • geoilersgist

    One thing that comes to mind for me of Bucky was his willingness to drop the mitts with anybody, regardless of the fact he was going to have the crap kicked out of him. We need a few more players like him now.