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
|NUMBER:||37||BIRTHDATE:||September 1, 1964|
|HEIGHT:||5′ 10″||BIRTHPLACE:||Thunder Bay, ON, Canada|
BY THE NUMBERS
|1989-1990||CAPE BRETON OILERS-AHL||68||13||37||50||55|
|1990-1991||CAPE BRETON OILERS-AHL||56||13||46||59||60|
CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS
|1989-1990||CAPE BRETON OILERS-AHL||6||0||7||7||10|
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.
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.
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