1984 REVISITED: CELEBRATE

With all the disappointment the Edmonton Oilers and their fans have endured these last eight years since a Game 7 loss to Carolina in the 2006 Stanley Cup final, today’s news there’ll be a 30th reunion of the 1984 Cup champion Oilers Oct.10 is a welcome breath of fresh air.

That 1984 Cup win was the first of five for the Oilers by what, at least in my estimation, represents the NHL’s last true dynasty. It was a stretch of glory fashioned by the greatest player ever to lace on skates, Wayne Gretzky, and, arguably, the greatest NHL teams ever assembled.

If you were there in 1984 – I wasn’t, having arrived in 1989 just in time to grab a notepad and caddy for Jim Matheson at The Journal during the 1990 Stanley Cup championship – I’m guessing today’s reunion takes you back to a happier time. Fans could use a little of that, no?

Absent for four of the five Cups or not, I welcome this look back, orchestrated by the Great One. While I missed most of the fun in person, I inherited the seat Gretzky used to occupy alongside Rod Phillips on the Oiler plane during the many years I covered the team. Rod is one of the great story-tellers in the game. Likewise, Matheson. I’ve heard them all.

Still, there’s nothing like being there. Lucky you.

GLORY DAYS

GloryDays

As was the case at the Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium and the Boys on The Bus Reunion here years ago, people will get another glimpse of the players that put Edmonton on the map every bit as much as the oil boom did. Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr, Charlie Huddy, Dave Semenko and on and on.

It’s a day that’ll provide a respite, however brief, from the reality fans in this town have faced since that last Cup win in 1990 and the 2006 Cup final loss to the Hurricanes. There’s been a lot of lean years and disappointment since the last parade and the transition from Peter Pocklington to the EIG and, now, Daryl Katz.

As an outsider, I’ve always been taken aback by the passion of the fans here — something I’ve seen first-hand working the beat at The Journal and The Sun and in more recent years scribbling for Oilersnation and NHL.com or just hanging around the rink. From the highest of heights to the deepest of depths these past eight years. You’ve loved this team. You hate this team.

Framed in that, I hope fans take one day off from the angst and failure of the past eight years on Oct. 10 and soak it all up, take it all in. Celebrate the greatness you witnessed, as faded and in the rear-view mirror as it might be now, for 24 hours. There will be plenty of time to fuss and fret over the upcoming season. Take 24. You deserve that much, no?

BEST OF TIMES

EnjoyTheDay

I listened to Lowe talk about Oct.10 today. I hope he takes the same 24 hours to enjoy the day. Lowe has been all-in with this organization since 1979 as a player, coach, GM, president of hockey operations and, now, vice-chairman of the OEG. While that, understandably, isn’t a popular shout-out these days, it’s deserved.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nobody hates losing more than Lowe does. Nobody is more frustrated than Lowe, here for all five Cup wins, about the tough times this team has fallen on during his watch. No, what happened 30 years ago doesn’t mitigate the failures of late, but there have been better times. Lowe played a big part in those. Let’s not forget that. Let’s remember those times, for 24 hours at least.

Glen Sather, the coach, GM and architect of those teams, will be here. So will former chief scout Barry Fraser, former PR man Bill Tuele, now retired in Nanaimo, B,C., and former trainers and equipment men Barry Stafford and Sparky Kulchisky. And, of course, Matheson and Phillips, who worked their way into the writing and broadcasting wings of the HHOF chronicling the best of times – and the worst.

Take a break Oct. 10. Enjoy the day.

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

  • Nomad787

    I might be alone in this idea, but I think Peter Pocklington should be here too, if it’s even possible. I’m sure the players, and probably Katz, are working on it. I HATED Gretzky being sold, but also appreciate that PP had the right to use his assets in the way he wanted too. And yes, back then they were assets, and had very little say in things. Watching interviews with Peter now, and hearing him say he doesn’t even watch anymore, or care even, it doesn’t ring true with me. He brought the City of Edmonton a lot of joy while being owner, and I think he deserves to celebrate with this very special group, too.

    • Serious Gord

      Having him at the event has its pros and cons.

      Yes he deserves to be recognized.

      He would also be a huge distraction. (As he was for much of his tenure as owner)

      I wonder if he would have legal issues once he got here – are there people waiting to serve him the second he sets foot on Canadian soil?

    • The Soup Fascist

      Interesting thought, but PP would become the story and would be such a distraction that it would overshadow everything else. So I don’t think it would be a good idea.

      Probably a moot question as he likely has legal issues that would prevent his return.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I think this is a great thing. I was a 14 year old watching those games in the dark as everyone in the house was in bed in wee hours of the morning out east here. When Lumley scored I wanted to yell so g-damn loud but couldn’t because everyone was sleeping…lol. The start of a great run.

    I am guessing Kevin McClelland will be there? Arguably the most important goal in Oilers history.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Meh. So, KLowe and Co. are pulling the glory days card again. Whoopdee la dee da.

    Sure, it’s kinda cool, but it will do absolutely nothing to get me excited about the coming season or forget how bad the team is (which is what this all about).

    An organization that is stuck in the past.

    • Lowe But Now High Expectations

      Sometimes the past is all you have. In 2017 the Leafs will be dragging out caskets and players in wheelchairs for the 50th anniversary of their last cup win.

  • Zarny

    @ubermiguel

    In 2007-08, Lowe’s last year as a GM, the Oilers finished 19th with 88 PT. In 2008-09 they finished 21st with 85 PT.

    Certainly nothing to plan a parade around, but so far I haven’t heard anyone suggest the wheels have fallen off the New Jersey Devils or Nashville.

    I would argue the wheels fell off in 2009-10 when the Oilers plummeted to last place with 62 PT.

    The root cause is simply that the roster has been abysmal. Tambellini turned a respectable blueline with Souray and Visnovsky into literally nothing. Not a single player Tambellini signed or traded for is part of the solution. Instead of surrounding all of the 18 & 19 y/o rookies with capable NHL veterans who could take some of the heat Tamballini filled out the roster with fringe NHL/AHLers and washed up vets.

    The notion that a few 18-21 y/o kids, despite being really high draft picks, could carry an AHL caliber roster has proven a failure. But that really shouldn’t have been a surprise. LA and Chi were terrible for years going through the same growing pains.

    • ubermiguel

      “Wheels fell off” is going from the finals to out of the playoffs the next year and not returning for several years. When that happened to New Jersey it proved to be a bump in the road because they were back in the hunt the following year. A bad roster is a symptom of bad management.

      I think we agree on many of the Oilers problems; I point the blame a bit higher up than you.

      One detail though, Visnovsky was traded for Whitney and a pick that became Brandon Davidson. Whitney was playing like our MVP until he got hurt, then sucked when he returned. Davidson got testicular cancer which delayed his development, but he’s still on the radar. That was a bad luck trade.

  • paul wodehouse

    …jake said:

    “the most important goal in Oilers history.”

    …something a lot of knuckle draggers don’t even start to acknowledge…well said sir!

  • paul wodehouse

    Still waiting for an answer to my question Serious Gord. Enlighten us with your knowledge of what it takes to win the Stanley Cup and how KLOWE and MacT should change the team to reflect your knowledge of such things. Because yes KLOWE has 6 rings and MacT 3 rings.So I want to know what you know that they do not.

    Criticize all you want. But in my opinion you need to be able offer up solutions instead of only pointing out the failures. It becomes monotonous reading and in fact listening to your comments that continuously offer no solutions and no insight into how this team should move forward.

    In fact MacT since taking over this team has brought in new players and imo moved this team forward from that which it was 4 years ago.

    Eakins at the very minimum has provided the team with a coach with passion for the game and has squarely provided this team with a head coach who is in fact a leader of men. And treats then with accountability and expects commitment to the game on and off the ice.

    What say you Serious Gord.