Based on talent and physical tools, Mark Lamb had no business being in the NHL, let alone on this list, but he was a stubborn little player who refused to take “no” for an answer. Lamb parlayed those traits into a career in the NHL that spanned 403 games, including 176 games and a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1990.
Unlike a couple of far more talented players who occupy lower slots on this list of top 100 Oilers – Pat Price and Dean McAmmond – Lamb found a way to extract everything possible from limited gifts. He wasn’t big. He wasn’t fast. Simply put, Lamb, who grew up as a cowboy and bull rider, made it to the NHL because he was tenacious as hell.
Mark Lamb #7
|NUMBER:||7||BIRTHDATE:||August 3, 1964|
|HEIGHT:||5′ 9″||BIRTHPLACE:||Ponteix, SK, Canada|
|WEIGHT:||180||DRAFTED:||CGY / 1982 NHL Entry Draft|
|SHOOTS:||Left||ROUND:||4th (72nd overall)|
BY THE NUMBERS
|1985-86||MONCTON GOLDEN FLAMES-AHL||79||26||50||76||51|
|1986-87||ADIRONDACK RED WINGS-AHL||49||14||36||50||45|
|1987-88||NOVA SCOTIA OILERS-AHL||69||27||61||88||45|
|1988-89||CAPE BRETON OILERS-AHL||54||33||49||82||29|
CAREER PLAYOFFS STATISTICS
|1987-1988||NOVA SCOTIA OILERS-AHL||5||0||5||5||6|
Lamb, drafted 72nd overall by Calgary in 1982, broke the 100-point barrier three times as a junior, including a career-high 136 points with Medicine Hat as a 19-year-old in 1983-84. To put that in context, that total left him tied for seventh in WHL scoring with Cliff Ronning. Ray Ferraro of Brandon led with 192 points. Dale Derkatch, who never played a single NHL game, was third with 159 points (he had 179 the season before).
So, while Lamb had numbers as a junior, he knew that wouldn’t be his ticket to the NHL. After two years in Calgary’s organization, playing just one game with the Flames, he signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, getting into 22 games. When Detroit waived him, the Oilers, looking for organizational depth at centre, snapped him up before the 1987-88 season.
Lamb played just 22 games with the Oilers in his first two seasons, spending most of his time in the minors. When he did play in Edmonton, Glen Sather employed him as a fourth-line checker and penalty killer. Lamb had Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Craig MacTavish and Dave Hannan ahead of him on the depth chart in 1987-88.
With Gretzky a year gone and John Muckler taking over as coach, Lamb had a bigger role in 1989-90. Even then he had just 28 points – Kevin Lowe and Steve Smith outscored him. Then came the Oilers’ playoff run, when Lamb often found himself playing with Jari Kurri and Esa Tikkanen.
Lamb scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 2 of the first round against the Winnipeg Jets and also got the game-winner in Game 7. By the time the Oilers hoisted their fifth Stanley Cup after dispatching the Boston Bruins in six games, Lamb had 17 points (6-11-17), leaving him behind only Craig Simpson, Messier, Kurri, Tikkanen and Glenn Anderson.
Lamb never was anywhere near the best player on the Oiler teams he toiled with, but he was at his very best in a career built on dogged determination in the 1990 playoffs, when the Oilers needed him most.
This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.
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