TOP 100 OILERS: NORM MACIVER (96)

NormMcIver

Undersized and undrafted, Norm MacIver was an over-achiever who played 500 games in the NHL, including 79 with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1990s, because he figured out early on in his career brains not brawn would have to be his calling card.

In an era when bigger was still considered better by default, MacIver, who stood five-foot-11 and weighed 180 pounds soaking wet, relied on the ability to move the puck and play a reliable defensive game – traits that served him well during parts of three seasons with the Oilers while riding shotgun for partner Dave Manson, his polar opposite.

Norm MacIver #36

Defenseman

NUMBER: 37 BIRTHDATE: September 1, 1964
HEIGHT: 5′ 10″  BIRTHPLACE:  Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
WEIGHT: 173
SHOOTS: Left

BY THE NUMBERS

SEASON TEAM GP G A P +/- PIM  PPG  SHG  GWG  S S%
1989-1990 OILERS 1 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
1989-1990 BINGHAMTON WHALERS-AHL 2 0 0 0 0
1989-1990 CAPE BRETON OILERS-AHL 68 13 37 50 55
1990-1991 OILERS 21 2 5 7 1 14 1 0 0 25 8.0
1990-1991 CAPE BRETON OILERS-AHL 56 13 46 59 60
1991-1992 OILERS 57 6 34 40 20 38 2 0 3 69 8.7
1992-1993 SENATORS 80 17 46 63 -46 84 7 1 2 184 9.2
1992-1993 CANADA-WC-A 8 0 5 5 4
1993-1994 SENATORS 53 3 20 23 -26 26 0 0 0 88 3.4
1994-1995 SENATORS 28 4 7 11 -9 10 2 0 0 30 13.3
1994-1995 PENGUINS 13 0 9 9 7 6 0 0 0 20 0.0
1995-1996 PENGUINS 32 2 21 23 12 32 1 0 0 30 6.7
1995-1996 JETS (1979) 39 5 25 30 -6 26 2 0 0 49 10.2
1996-1997 COYOTES 32 4 9 13 -11 24 1 0 1 40 10.0
1997-1998 COYOTES 41 2 6 8 -11 38 0 1 0 37 5.4
1998-1999 HOUSTON AEROS-IHL 49 6 25 31 22 48 2 0 2 74 8.1
NHL TOTALS 500  55  230  285  -68  350 21 2 8 726  7.6

CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS

SEASON TEAM GP  A P +/-  PIM  PPG  SHG  GWG  S S%
1988-1989 WHALERS 1 0 0 0 -2 2 0 0 0 1 0.0
1989-1990 CAPE BRETON OILERS-AHL 6 0 7 7 10
1990-1991 OILERS 18 0 4 4 10 8 0 0 0 18 0.0
1991-1992 OILERS 13 1 2 3 3 10 0 0 0 17 5.9
1994-1995 PENGUINS 12 1 4 5 -4 8 0 0 1 16 6.2
1995-1996 JETS (1979) 6 1 0 1 3 2 0 0 0 10 10.0
1997-1998 COYOTES 6 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 6 0.0
1998-1999 HOUSTON AEROS-IHL 10 0 5 5 14 0 0 0
NHL TOTALS 56 3 11  14  10 32 0 0 1 68  4.4

NOTABLE

Norm

MacIver spent four years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he had 152 assists in 155 games and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 1985-86, then signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers and made a stop with the Hartford Whalers.

Oiler GM Glen Sather, who had inquired about MacIver as a free agent before the Rangers got him, came calling again and shipped prospect Jim Ennis to the Whalers to get him. Up and down between Edmonton and Cape Breton for a couple of seasons, MacIver would make his biggest splash with the Oilers during the 1991-92 season.

Coach Ted Green played MacIver alongside Manson, who was everything MacIver was not – a tough, physical banger with a big shot known for kicking ass first and asking questions later. MacIver was the perfect match, a puck-mover who could get the rubber up the ice and cover ground in his own end in front of Bill Ranford while Manson was getting his licks in.

THE STORY

Norm

MacIver played just 57 games with the Oilers in 1991-92, but he produced 40 points (6-34-40), which was second only to Manson (15-32-47 in 79 games), as the Oilers reached the conference final for the second straight year.

In what some would argue was a case of one that got away, the Oilers opted to make MacIver available for the 1992 expansion draft and the Ottawa Senators picked him up. MacIver would go on to enjoy his best season in the NHL with the Senators in 1992-93 with 17-46-63.

While MacIver won’t go into the books as one of the top 20 defensemen to play with the Oilers (I have at least two-dozen blueliners rated higher on this list), only eight have reached 40 points since MacIver did it – Manson, Igor Kravchuk, Boris Mironov, Roman Hamrlik, Janne Niinimaa, Chris Pronger, Sheldon Souray and Tom Gilbert.

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. 

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

  • The older I get, the better I was...

    Good summary on a player that I always thought was underrated. He demonstrated that a smaller player could play solid defense and also contribute offensively. Dave Manson was never as effective after Norm left, but when they were together it was a great pairing.

  • Colin M

    It’s great to remember all the underdogs Robin … a lot of players that have fallen through the cracks, but made positive contributions throughout Oilers history.

    One question; the photos have him listed as #36, but you’ve also got him listed as #37. Did he ever wear #37 as an Oiler?

    Keep it up … looking forward to see who #95 is on your list. Risto Siltanen? Matti Hagman? John Blum?

  • JackB

    Five foot eleven, right. Pretty sure when I saw him at one of those WEM autograph signings they used to do I could almost stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the guy. I’d have been 11 or 12 at the time, and I’m only 5’9 now.

    Good player, though.

    • Rob...

      Click on the Voices of the Nation menu item at the top and select Robin’s name. That will filter all blogs to only include those written by him. That should get you closer to what you’re after.

  • Oil Vice

    Unrelated comment but how about that Kassian idiot?! Of course I hope no one else was seriously hurt but that moron finally got a little of what he deserved when he busted his foot and nose in that car accident. Substance abuse is no joke and I hope he can over come that but I hope his career is over.

    • ubermiguel

      You are far too generous. The Oilers never took the opportunity to feed it to that guy. Being the bigger man sounds good when you’re talking to your kids, but everything you need to know about the team the Oilers iced these last few horrible seasons can be learned from the team’s lack of reaction to Kassian busting up Gagner’s face. They even let him taunt Gagner when he was wearing the face shield and no one stood up to Kassian. That is a huge black spot on the team’s character and I hope that Zach comes through rehab and works his way back to a respectable NHL career – just so an Oiler can come along and end it hard.

      • Oil Vice

        Gazdic stood up, Kassian wanted absolutely nothing to do with him though. As well Steve Macyntire also had some things to say, but he never did get back in the lineup. Also Ference smoked him last year and was suspended 3 games, you better believe that had to do with the Ganger incident.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Is that one of those hockey cards they gave away at IGA? Between that and those throwback Blue Jays Coke commercials, I’m not sure I can handle all the nostalgia.

  • ubermiguel

    Well there’s another one of those “he played how many games in the NHL after he left the Oilers?!” moments.

    Interesting bunch of teams he played with: an expansion team in Ottawa; a very talented mid-90s Penguins team; The Jets for their last season in Winnipeg (or so we thought); and ending off his career as part of Bettman’s hockey-in-the-desert experiment.

    It must have been disappointing to play on the Oilers and Penguins just after the height of their success.

  • ubermiguel

    I wonder where he sits on the Senators list of top 100 players. Probably makes the first team’s top 6. I was living in Ottawa those years. I still don’t know how the franchise survived such an abominable beginning.

  • Oil Vice

    I remember Sather was questioned about why he didn’t protect Norm in the expansion draft. He said that they couldn’t have both norm and Greg Hawgood, two undersized D-men but good puck movers, on the same team. He bet on Hawgood. One of the few mistakes Slats made. Oh yeah. Ray Whitney on waivers….