The Edmonton Oil Kings have been a part of our community for a long, long time. This year’s team won their second WHL championship in three seasons, and, today, have a chance to shake hands with history, just like the Oil Kings of 1963.
When most of the men who played on the 1963 Oil Kings were growing up, it was a very different city than the one we live in today. “Your friendly city” included a rabid hockey crowd, fans who were able to enjoy outstanding talent (Norm Ullman and Johnny Bucyk among them) before they moved on to NHL stardom in the original six. The Edmonton Oil Kings of 1963 were a talented, battle hardened group (the Oil Kings played in a “senior league” despite their young age) who won it all for the city of Edmonton in May of ’63.
Many of those young men went on to pro hockey—the NHL, the WHA, the AHL and some of the craziest leagues in creation, Slap Shot come to life. The story of those Oil Kings teams could fill several books, if you ever get a chance to talk to Gregg Pilling, or Pat Quinn, or Bert Marshall, Glen Sather or Bob Falkenberg, make sure you do. It was a different, wonderful time.
This is the bunch I remember well, the Phil Russell, Don Kozak, Darcy Rota, Tom Bladon bunch. Holy hell that was a tough league back then, that’s my one memory that sustains. Today’s WHL is tough too, don’t get me wrong, but those years were a little angrier than the league is today. I miss those players—Rota was terrific, and man we could use Phil Russell—but have fallen head over heels for this bunch and today they can win it all.
They won it all, the WHL championship, against an insane Portland Winter Hawks team earlier in the month. It seems like yesterday, and yet these young men have worked so hard this week to get into the national championship game.
THE MEMORIAL CUP ROSTER
Godspeed, men. This is for all-time, for history, for your history. We’re with you all the way.
GO OIL KINGS!!!!