TOP 100 OILERS: IGOR ULANOV (93)

There is little statistical justification, advanced or otherwise, for having Igor Ulanov on this list of Top 100 Oilers, so those of you who lean heavily on such details can take a gulp of Sprite and roll your eyes. I’m putting him in the No. 93 slot because I don’t want him showing up at my door asking why I left him off. I’d be happy, however, to send him your way.

Outside former captain Jason Smith, Ulanov’s soulmate in the belief pain doesn’t actually hurt and there is no injury that can’t be overcome with a bag of ice and some intestinal fortitude, the big Russian blueliner is the toughest man I have seen don Oiler silks. Ulanov was a NHL version of Chigurh from the movie No Country For Old Men. Opposing forwards were the guys with the satchel full of money he wanted.

Igor Ulanov  #55

Defenseman

NUMBER:  55 BIRTHDATE: October 1, 1969
HEIGHT: 6′ 3″ BIRTHPLACE:  Krasnokamsk, Russia
WEIGHT: 220 DRAFTED: WIN / 1991 NHL Entry Draft
SHOOTS: Left ROUND: 10th   (203rd overall)

CAREER REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS

SEASON TEAM GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG S S%
1991-92 JETS (1979) 27 2 9 11 5 67 0 0 0 23 8.7
1991-92 KHIMIK VOSKRESENSK-CIS 27 1 4 5 24
1991-92 MONCTON HAWKS-AHL 3 0 1 1 16
1992-93 JETS (1979) 56 2 14 16 6 124 0 0 0 26 7.7
1992-93 MONCTON HAWKS-AHL 9 1 3 4 26
1992-93 FORT WAYNE KOMETS-IHL 3 0 1 1 29
1993-94 JETS (1979) 74 0 17 17 -11 165 0 0 0 46 0.0
1993-94 RUSSIA-WC-A 6 1 0 1 20
1994-95 JETS (1979) 19 1 3 4 -2 27 0 0 0 13 7.7
1994-95 CAPITALS 3 0 1 1 3 2 0 0 0 0 0.0
1995-96 BLACKHAWKS 53 1 8 9 12 92 0 0 0 24 4.2
1995-96 LIGHTNING 11 2 1 3 -1 24 0 0 1 13 15.4
1995-96 INDIANAPOLIS ICE-IHL 1 0 0 0 0
1996-97 LIGHTNING 59 1 7 8 2 108 0 0 0 56 1.8
1996-97 RUSSIA-W-CUP 1 0 0 0 4
1997-98 LIGHTNING 45 2 7 9 -5 85 1 0 0 32 6.2
1997-98 CANADIENS 4 0 1 1 -2 12 0 0 0 4 0.0
1998-99 CANADIENS 76 3 9 12 -3 109 0 0 0 55 5.4
1999-00 CANADIENS 43 1 5 6 -11 76 0 0 0 33 3.0
1999-00 OILERS 14 0 3 3 -3 10 0 0 0 6 0.0
2000-01 OILERS 67 3 20 23 15 90 1 0 0 74 4.0
2001-02 RANGERS 39 0 6 6 -4 53 0 0 0 17 0.0
2001-02 PANTHERS 14 0 4 4 -3 11 0 0 0 9 0.0
2001-02 HARTFORD WOLF PACK-AHL 6 1 1 2 2 2 0 0 0
2002-03 PANTHERS 56 1 1 2 7 39 0 0 0 20 5.0
2002-03 SAN ANTONIO RAMPAGE-AHL 5 1 0 1 -2 4 0 0 0 10 10.0
2003-04 OILERS 42 5 13 18 19 28 1 0 3 49 10.2
2003-04 TORONTO ROADRUNNERS-AHL 10 0 5 5 5 8 0 0 0
2005-06 OILERS 37 3 6 9 -11 29 1 0 0 29 10.3
2006-07 LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL-RUSSIA 32 0 5 5 36
2007-08 LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL-RUSSIA 30 1 5 6 56
2008-09 DYNAMO MINSK-RUS-KHL 36 1 4 5 126
NHL TOTALS 739  27  135  162  13 1151  4 0 4 529  5.1

CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS

SEASON TEAM GP  +/-  PIM  PPG  SHG  GWG  S S%
1991-92 JETS (1979) 7 0 0 0 -4 39 0 0 0 11 0.0
1992-93 JETS (1979) 4 0 0 0 -1 4 0 0 0 1 0.0
1994-95 CAPITALS 2 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 1 0.0
1995-96 LIGHTNING 5 0 0 0 -1 15 0 0 0 2 0.0
1997-98 CANADIENS 10 1 4 5 3 12 0 0 0 6 16.7
1999-00 OILERS 5 0 0 0 -1 6 0 0 0 4 0.0
2000-01 OILERS 6 0 0 0 -6 4 0 0 0 4 0.0
2006-07 LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL-RUSSIA 7 1 3 4 20
2007-08 LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL-RUSSIA
NHL TOTALS 39 1 4 5 -10 84 0 0 0 29 3.4

NOTABLE

Ulanov, who did two stints with the Oilers, didn’t have an ounce of subtlety to his game. He wasn’t quick on his feet. He wasn’t skilled with the puck. His 23 points with the Oilers in 2000-01 was a career high. He made big hits. He made big mistakes. He’d block shots. He’d punch you in the mouth, or use his stick if a fist wouldn’t do. He spilled blood, much of it his own. 

Like Javier Bardem’s character in NCFOM, Ulanov, who looked very much like a hitman when he’d roll around Edmonton in his Cadillac with pal Sergei Zholtok wearing a three-quarter length black leather jacket, was methodically relentless in the way he went about his business. He did whatever it took, inside and outside the rules, to get the job done against faster and more skilled opponents. Hook. Hold. Hack.

I doubt Ulanov, even in his best years, could play in the NHL with the rules as they are today. Then again, maybe I’m selling him short. The thing about Ulanov is he always gave you what he had, no matter the physical toll it took on him. Tough not to admire a balls-out player like that.

THE STORY

I’ve told this story before, but it captures the essence of Ulanov in a nutshell. We were on the road in Columbus in November 2000 when Ulanov took a slapshot in the throat. It knocked him out of the game. He was badly bruised, but it could have been much, much worse.

Two nights later at Madison Square Garden, after insisting he was able to play against the New York Rangers, Ulanov took a slapper in the face. Spurting blood, Ulanov insisted on staying on the bench because he wanted to wait until the intermission to get repairs. He was forced by officials to go to the medical room, where it took about 30 stitches to close him up.

Later on the plane, with his face having swelled to freakish proportions, I asked him what the hell he was thinking by resisting immediate treatment. Ulanov sneered: “What? It’s blood on my face. My leg is not broken.”

Tell Ulanov he doesn’t belong on the list? Not me.

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 scouts have failed....

    This guy was a true warrior and you knew what you were getting from him night in and night out, a good honest effort. That being said sometimes the puck on his stick was a full adventure on it’s own.

    Add to that he had no qualms about putting somebody down in the front of the net either by way of stick or body, I miss the old fashioned stay at home, mean d-man.

    • Igor played the same way no matter what. He never picked his spots. Uli wasn’t a great fighter — he got pumped a few times, with a bout against Keith Primeau standing out for me — but if you didn’t like getting manhandled and wanted to scrap, he was happy to oblige.

  • Hazlehurst11

    I was dating a girl back in the winter before the cup run in 06. Her dad was one of the Oilers Accountants, and good friends with Grant Fuhr, where Igor Ulanov was staying while he was playing in Ed.

    One night, I was at the Gf’s house, big snowfall was starting. I think we got about a foot and a half overnight.

    Phone Rings, Igor is on the phone, he locked himself out of his house and needed the spare set at 12:15 am.

    I go out, meet him, give him the keys and go inside to say goodnight. I come back out 10 min later, Igor is in the middle of the road on a 45 degree angle, slowly braking a rolling into the curb.

    I go out, knock on the window, “having some trouble Igor?” he looks at the stick saying (In the heaviest Russian Mob voice you have ever heard) “Its not responding”.

    I can tell the car isnt even turned on. It was a brand new Chrysler 300… Automatic. He somehow stalled it.

    So i reached in, “turned off” the ignition, put it back in, started his car for him as he sat there, with 3 empty Red Bulls in his cupholders.

    He smiled and said thank you.
    I wish him “Good Luck Tomorrow Igor”

    his face went cold, no expression, and in a monotone voice he said “Thanks…” and slowly drove off.

    Next day I realize that they traded fro Spacek I believe, Igor barely saw significant ice time for the rest of that season.

    That is my Igor Ulanov Story… Classy Guy

    Cheers

      • Hazlehurst11

        Oh I bet you did.

        They were quite a rich well off family, and at the time I was 19 and drove a 1974 Dodge Dart.

        They were quite snotty, and looked down at me.

        I cant remember too much about the time together, only the Igor story. Which is pretty epic if I must say so myself

    • Craig1981

      My sister was a server at Earls, when the team always went there. She got bumped at the same time she was setting down his wine and a little hit his shirt. She offered to pay for the cleaning or a new one, but the team said not to bother.

      A week later the team is in and she served them agian. When she asked him what he wanted to drink he responded “I threw out the shirt” in an emotionless cold Russian voice

      Smyth walked up to her as she walked away and said some along the lines like “He isn’t made at you, he is just Russian”

      Classy man Smitty is.

  • Craig1981

    This was a fun read Mr. Brownlee……….I remember this player, much the same way you described. I’m sure Igor would block a shot with his face, if the play warranted.

    It’s too bad Nicky Nikitin does not play like him, they almost look like twins.

  • Spydyr

    I block puck with face, you pay me monies coach?
    Man, this guy was a true warrior. Not an ounce of skill but a cargo ship full of will. The current regime of Oilers players could learn a thing or two from a guy like that.

  • giddy

    Help me out here guys, did Ulanov actually break the glass behind the net with a slapshot, or was that a weird dream I had back when he was playing with the Oil? I swear I saw it happen.

  • Craig1981

    Love the Igor stories. I know Cherry doesn’t like the Russians, but he must of loved Igor.

    I remember he wouldn’t hesitate to block a shot with his face. I also remember his brutal turnovers.

  • Borbs

    Didn’t Igor badger Eric Lindros in an epic 6 game series for the Lightning back in the day? I seem to remember him being all over Lindros, doing everything he could to drive Lindros nuts. The third period of the 6th game, knowing the Flyers were gonna win, Lindros gave Ulanov a spectacular beat down! I remember him taking his lumps, knowing they were coming must have been tough. After seeing that, I knew when the Oilers picked him up they were getting a good one! Now all I want to see is how high Frank Musil will rank! #8 in your program, #1 in our hearts!!

  • Igor Ulanov 55

    Igor earned his rubles….he never shortchanged his Bosses.What was in the package stayed in the package until it was delivered.

    Heres to hoping we see another one like him again,Nikitin has nasty in him but remember Ulanov was supported and not keel-hauled for laying squirrel eggs every game….his contributions were valued highly.

    If this version of the Oil value players like Igor they must work harder to keep them on the roster,the more goals the men score the more errors their muscle can make….you EARN toughness by scoring enough goals to compensate…when the Core figures out that this is why they must be more urgent and “driven” to score SOONER and MORE they will be fine.

    You arent going to see Mac-L and PC air-dropping any toughness which will bring more penalties until he has seen enough consistant offense to believe he can make it fly.

    Nice memories, thanks RB,its nice to see the Blue-collar love coming out !

    Yes,Igor was an impact player alright.If he couldnt beat them on the ice….well he just beat them harder with whatever body part that was most handy…fist…face…it mattered not.

  • Igor Ulanov 55

    HAHHA Ulieeee!!! He looks like the guy from Fargo( the movie) the one who puts his friend in the wood chipper…I swear they are twins…same damn emotionless stare too!