The Montreal Canadiens employed Mark Napier during his most prolific offensive years as an NHL player, but the Edmonton Oilers got plenty of mileage out of the former Toronto Marlboros forward in the 175 games he spent here, a stint that included the 1985 Stanley Cup.
Napier certainly had a resume. He lit up the OHL with 223 points in just 131 games and also won a Memorial Cup with the Marlboros. He jumped to the Toronto Toros of the WHA and then the Birmingham Bulls before landing in Montreal, where he won a Cup with the Habs. By the time Napier arrived in Edmonton, he was 28. He could still score. He could still fly.
Right Wing — Born Jan 28 1957 — Toronto, ONT
Height 5.10 — Weight 185 [178 cm/84 kg]
Drafted by Montreal Canadiens
BY THE NUMBERS
|1983-84||Minnesota North Stars||NHL||58||13||28||41||17||2||12||3||2||5||0|
|1984-85||Minnesota North Stars||NHL||39||10||18||28||2||-6||—||—||—||—||—|
Given all the firepower the Oilers boasted up front through the 1980s – Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson, to name just four – in an era when Edmonton routinely scored 400 goals a season, Napier was a perfect fit as a support player.
A two-time 40-goal scorer in Montreal, Napier fit right in behind that group of future hall-of-famers, scoring 9-26-35 in just 33 games in his first season with the Oilers. He added 5-5-10 in 18 playoff games as the Oilers beat the Philadelphia Flyers to claim their second straight Stanley Cup.
Napier was a rookie when he won his first Cup with the Habs in 1979, again in a support role to names like Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and big blueliner Larry Robinson. The second time around it was Gretzky et al at the top of the marquee and guys like Napier, Dave Hunter and Willy Lindstrom in the supporting cast.
“It was my first year in the league and we won the Stanley Cup. I thought this could go on forever,” Napier said. “So, it was pretty special to win my second one in Edmonton. That one I really appreciated a lot more and learned never to take winning the Stanley Cup for granted again.”
Napier, who spent his final three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres after being dealt away by the Oilers, never did sip from the Cup again, retiring after 767 games. All told, Napier had 112 points, including 41 goals, in his 175 games as a member of the Oilers.
These days, Napier is executive director of the NHL Alumni Association and is a driving force behind many of the charitable activities the NHLAA is involved with, including initiatives to help former players transition to life after hockey.
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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