IN 1980, IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE FINNS

At the Edmonton Oilers 1980 training camp, the major stories involved first-round draft pick Paul Coffey and a kid from Finland who could barely speak English. They would both go on to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

SEPTEMBER 13, 1980

Jim Matheson wrote an article in the Edmonton Journal, detailing the new additions to the team and making note of Coffey and the increase in Finnish players on the Oilers for the coming season:

  • Matheson: “The Oilers will have more new Finns at camp than any other club. Apart from little Risto Siltanen, they have added former Boston Bruins center Matti Hagman and winger Jari Kurri, who was the second best youngster at the World Junior Championships last spring. All three stand a good chance to make the team. Kurri’s biggest problem may be learning how to speak English.”

Source

The article makes quick mention of Glenn Anderson, the 1979 draft pick who was an Olympian in 1980, and Paul Messier—Mark’s older brother—coming in as a free agent from Colorado. The impressive George Pesut (former California Golden Seal) was trying to catch on in the NHL again after playing in the Alps during 1979-80. It was a ragtag group looking to join forces with maybe the greatest young cluster of talent in the game’s history. In the fall of 1980, these young Oilers were less than four years from Stanley.

THE INCUMBENTS (19)

  • Goal: Ron Low, Eddie Mio
  • Defense: Colin Campbell, Lee Fogolin, Doug Hicks, Kevin Lowe, Pat Price, Risto Siltanen
  • Center: Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Stan Weir
  • Left Wing: Don Ashby, Brett Callighen, Peter Driscoll, Dave Hunter, Dave Semenko
  • Right Wing: Dave Lumley, Blair MacDonald, Don Murdoch

THE DRAFT PICKS (10)

  • Goal: Andy Moog
  • Defense: Paul Coffey
  • Center: Walt Poddubny, Mike Toal, Mike Winther
  • Left Wing: Max Kostovich, Jarri Kurri
  • Right Wing: Glenn Anderson, Shawn Babcock, Blair Barnes

THE REST (27)

  • Goal: Bob Dupuis, Gord Garbutt, Pete LoPresti
  • Defense: Bryon Baltimore, Jim Crosson, Mike Forbes, Larry Goodenough, John Hilworth, Charlie Huddy, Mike McCann, George Pesut
  • Center: Dave Barr, Matti Hagman, Paul Messier, Kevin Redmond, Gord Stafford
  • Left Wing: Scott Currie, Barry Dean, Dean Magee, Mark Miller, Roy Sommer
  • Right Wing: Dave Baldwin, Rick Bourbonnais, Mike Kouwenhoven, Bill Joyce, Cal Roadhouse, Tom Roulston

Barry Fraser had delivered two drafts for the ages, and those men added to Wayne Gretzky and a few other role players would sustain Edmonton for the rest of the decade, delivering 5 championships by 1990 summer.

It was an incredible moment in time. Glen Sather and his management group delivered in three ways:

  • Astute procurement of pro players, represented in 1980 by Matti Hagman, Barry Dean, George Pesut and Pete Lopresti. Some worked out, others did not, but the club was always looking under every rock.
  • Astounding draft success.
  • Signing undrafted players to entry-level deals. The 1980 draft was 10 rounds long, the 1979 edition only six—meaning there were some good players being passed over. Edmonton signed Charlie Huddy, Cal Roadhouse and others, and it paid off with Huddy in a big way.

WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS?

Craig MacTavish is a more aggressive GM than Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe were in terms of procurement. He’s closer to the Sather style, constantly trying to improve the roster and taking chances in hopes of a home run.

Tonight young Vladimir Tkachev had a very good game in Penticton. Now, one night doesn’t mean one damn thing. However, it’s a small arrow in a good direction, much like the arrows Charlie Huddy built on his way to a contract as an undrafted free agent.

There are no guarantees, and lord knows there are WAY more men like Cal Roadhouse than men like Charlie Huddy, but that’s no reason to pass on a quality prospect.

Risk, meet reward.

I wrote about Tkachev here

  • BlazingSaitls

    Vladimir Tkachev burst on the scene. I sure hope the kid can keep up the momentum because that was a heck of a game. St.Louis type maybe?

    What a start to the hockey season!

    • BlazingSaitls

      “Spin-o-rama ruling: Linus Omark’s chances of a return to the NHL just went from slim to none.” Robin Brownlee ’14

      That’s a heck of a spectrum. St.Louis – Omark.

    • Do what Weight did?

      Omark – 8 Goals and 32 Points in 79 NHL Games – Currently playing in Sweden.

      St. Louis – 370 Goals and 981 Points in 1060 Games – Currently adding to those totals in the NHL.

      Hmmm… I’ll sit this one out. Just too risky.

    • Leon was a no show at best last night. The oilers rookies were supposed to dominate and they started off great but once they started to lose momentum they kind of fell apart. I know it’s a very unstructured tourney with guys that don’t play together but I was really hoping to see the guys that want to be seen. Roy impressed me early and then stayed solid. Khatchev and Yak2.0 seemed to steal the show along with Moroz. The second van goal was a complete breakdown by oilers D. I can’t remember who was on the Blue that looked lost but it started with Nurse jumping up at the other end. He got back in a hurry and I was impressed with his speed but everyone seemed to be lost trying to get back into position, especial his D partner. If he makes the big squad he will have to be with the most reliable guy we have, and right now I think that guy is prob teamed up with Shultz for the same reasons.

  • Do what Weight did?

    Size does matter in todays NHL but with a talented kid like Tkachev I believe his shiftyness and ability to stick handle in a phone booth he can earn the respect of the defenders he’ll play against. Nobody likes being turned into a pylon and thus his small stature can become a non issue like St Louis or Theo Flurey. And can you believe his backchecking? He cared defensively. More Tkachev please, I’m sure there’s a place in the organization to further his development if not his size.

    • The issue @ size is not so much how it affects the players’ ability to perform; but more how it affects the players’ capacity to withstand injury.

      If your are good enough you can play, though lack of size does hinder — especially defensively — but the small-medium injuries are a lot more frequent when you are a smurf.

      • Serious Gord

        Further to that is who physically strong a small player must be relative to his larger – sometimes much larger – competition. St. Louis is one of the fittest players in league with an amazing build. Does this russian kid have the discipline to get a conditioned as St. Louis? Is he built as solidly as he is?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I didn’t catch the whole game last night, but from what I seen, the game looked in between ok and good.

    LD- seemed to play nervous, uber glad it was just cramps

    Moroz- dude is a beast, definitely see a bottom 6 role in a year or 2

    Yakimov- good hands, should give him the moniker “stantec” because he’s as big as the stantec building that’s going to be built lol

    Takchev(sp?)- Mighty Mouse that is all

    Nurse- looked calm out there for the most part, seen a couple time where he’d want to chase the player with the puck behind the net ( ala Petry) stopped and went to the front of the net to cover the player in front.

    All in all the future looks bright, hope it comes sooner than later.

    If the kids can beat the Lames tonight, I’ll call this tournament a success.

  • I look forward to tonights game. Johhny hockey and tkachev darting around will be fun.

    Ferland is a noted pugilist with some hockey skill…. I ponder who may square off with the large lad. Moroz might…. i don’t know if he should… but he might.

  • Serious Gord

    Oilers 3 stars were probably M.Roy Yakimov, Tkachev , and honorable mention Munoz . Defensively Musil showed well and Simpson . Kool- aid (hyped) players that did not play very well go to my “lemonaid ” players of the game – Draisaitl and Nurse . Off last nights performance neither looks close to NHL ready . I doubt Leon even won a face off draw . Nurse looked clumsy and made several bad decisions . Both of them cost us first goal against . Pleased with Jones twins and Holmberg showed some flare . Broissoit was shaky at times . Only one game , but hope hyped players show far more than they did this game . Should be interesting seeing Tkachev play Gaudreau tonite . Gaudreau shows nothing defensively and doubt he or Bennett makes their team . Arnold surprised for Flames .

    Canucks player of game was Bo Horvat and his linemates .

  • If Leon D played like Tkachev last night fans would be going crazy thinking he was the next Gretzky.

    Obviously most if not all players last night will not be playing in the NHL this year. The level of competition was low compared to the NHL. Given people are talking that Leon D maybe playing #2 C in the NHL this year. Did you watch him last night if he was not the Oilers number 1 pick last year people may not have really noticed him that much. Objectively he looked pretty average against a Junior team last night. Also objectively this is only 1 game.

    • Dan 1919

      Agreed, it was just the first game but let’s be honest; the only player that looked to have that NHL skating stride and just come across as overall good all around was Nurse (to no surprise). Other than that, I didn’t see anyone who looked above the rest of those guys as far as playing in the NHL and contributing.

      It will be interesting to follow, but I still think the expectations of Draisaitl are ridiculous. Not only did he not go 1st (Hall, RNH, Yak), he went third overall in a weak draft year. He may not be NHL ready for 2 years, never mind this year.

  • Okay LT let’s hear your thoughts…

    YES-it is one game that doesn’t matter for squat but if we are all in agreement that Leon should stay in Jr another year, and the C depth isn’t good regardless of of he stays or goes then…

    If Tkachev has such huge upside and if the Oil cut him someone else will most certainly take a flyer then….

    What if the oil constructed lines such as:

    Hall-Nuge-Ebs. Don’t mess with a good thing.

    Perron-arcobello/lander-Tkachev Small line but with the right match ups could really do some damage on the score sheet. I also noted that with his speed, Tkachev was often the first man back and great at stealing the puck(from young kids granted)Would have to go with a physical blue line to back them up.

    Pouliott-yak2.0-yak. Obviously pouliott would have the brunt of the defensive reliability but he also has the speed and touch to play with yak. Yak2.0 could help yak become more comfortable and if he doesn’t pan out this year, Leon will be better a year from now to change the depth chart.

    Hendricks-Gordon-Purcell there’s one thing this line is meant to do and for the first time in years it’s not getting slivers ridding pine, or just trying to survive in their own end for 5 min a night. I would expect this line to get between 2nd and 3rd most minutes.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I know it’s one meaningless game in waterskiing terrain but if the oilers tried out Tkachev and Yak2.0 for a year and let Leon tear it up in Jr would that be horrible? It’s not like the oil are playing in the second season anyway and hell if all else fails we can count on McDavid!

    • Lowetide

      I’d definitely sign Tkachev, then send him back to junior. I think Leon could make the Oilers, my objection to it comes from handing him the job. Ask Struds, I bet he agrees with me. EARNING a job and getting it handed to you are two different things.

      As we go farther into this preseason, we’re going to have to get used to Mark Arcobello in the top 6F. I don’t see another way, unless Leon kills it and you cannot count on that happening.

    • couldn’t agree more its not like were cup or playoff contenders. and after a very deep strong draft class this year ( 2nd rounders are considered middle first round picks in normal years) this team can be a deeep contender by 2017.

      Draisaitl still has a lot to work on at the khl level ( I hope he goes there, but he will prob stay with the oil this year considering center depth. ) Nurse should get a 9 game stint and be sent back to captain a strong greyhounds squad. Klefbom can gain experience splitting his time between ahl and nhl. Khaira, Gernat, Oesterle, simpson, Yakimov and Moroz can work on rounding out their game in the ahl their game in the ahl.

      If all that happens and after the strong 2015 draft This team would crush in years to come let alone penticton next year.

      Mactavish get it right don’t force it.

  • Sevenseven

    I hope some one or more of these undrafted/late picks turns out to be elite. A huge asset out of nothing. Mac T and the rest of the oilers really seem to be looking hard, and the development system I believe will pump out more gems like Marincin. The Oilers as a whole seem to have a lot of upward arrows.

  • Serious Gord

    And here I didn’t think that Tkachev qualified to go back to JR. I thought that because he was undrafted an an invite that if you signed him he could play pro wherever u sent him and was worried that he would only want The NHL, not the AHL. If CHL is still an option than toe it would be a no brainer to sign him. What about Yakimov? Would u let a decent and large Center play in the Bigs just so Leon can develop? Or do you put him in The AHL and tough it out with arcobello and lander( although the oil will use Leon I just wanted to see what ur stance is on yak2.0)

  • Finns!!!

    I miss the Oilers having good Finns.

    Heart and Soul type guys.

    Grow up on a latitude north of Edmonton, so are used to dark, cold winters.

    Edmonton represents “The Big Time”

    Purveyors of fine Death Metal.

    Finns.

    Can’t get enough of em.

  • IMO…Last night Draisaitl and Nurse were rusty and just ok. But as well…both showed why they can be of the elite type prospects as well as Leon did show he can make passes and protect the puck in either end while Nurse showed he can bring the puck out of the defence zone with eaze most times.

    Even Nurse’s pass to Draisiatl who missed an open net was definitely a thing of beauty.

    Best players over-all for the Oil in game 1?…In order I would say Tkachev, Yakimov, Moroz, Roy. Tkachev made tow excelkle nt passes for goals last night and Roy should have scored two goals/had 3 pts over-all.

    I would give good playing type check marks to Chase, Houck, the Jones twins, and on defence-Musil.

    BTW….what a super heavy hit by that Boland kid on James from the Canucks!!!! That was a 10 out of 10 IMO. Too bad Wilson did not get a beat from someone of the Oilers afterwards for what he did.

    The best was beating them Canucks and now tonight… its onto a new generation of bitter battle of Alberta spirits. Oil wins 4 or 5 to 2 with several hard heavy hits and good fights (all in the spirit of old fashion real type hockey of course)..lol.