TOP 100 OILERS: MARTY MCSORLEY (34)

Marty

Marty McSorley never, ever needed Glen Sather or anybody else to draw him a picture about what his job description with the Edmonton Oilers was and he damn sure didn’t need a written invitation from opposing players to carry it out. McSorley’s job was to ride shotgun for Wayne Gretzky and the rest of a star-studded Oiler line-up and he did it with both barrels.

Happy and willing in his role was McSorley, and he was so good at it that when Edmonton owner Peter Pocklington sold Gretzky to Bruce McNall and the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1988, the Great One insisted that the big lug from Hamilton with the flowing blond hair make the journey with him to Tinseltown. If Gretzky had to go, he wasn’t packing light.

Marty McSorley

Defense

Born May 18 1963 — Hamilton, ONT 

Height 6.01 — Weight 230 pounds

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1983-84

PIT

72

2

7

9

-39

224

75

2.7

1984-85

PIT

15

0

0

0

-3

15

11

0.0

1985-86

EDM

59

11

12

23

9

265

72

15.3

1986-87

EDM

41

2

4

6

-4

159

32

6.3

1987-88

EDM

60

9

17

26

23

223

66

13.6

1988-89

LAK

66

10

17

27

3

350

87

11.5

1989-90

LAK

75

15

21

36

2

322

127

11.8

1990-91

LAK

61

7

32

39

48

221

100

7.0

1991-92

LAK

71

7

22

29

-13

268

119

5.9

1992-93

LAK

81

15

26

41

1

399

197

7.6

1993-94

TOT

65

7

24

31

-12

194

160

4.4

1993-94

PIT

47

3

18

21

-9

139

122

2.5

1993-94

LAK

18

4

6

10

-3

55

38

10.5

1994-95

LAK

41

3

18

21

-14

83

75

4.0

1995-96

TOT

68

10

23

33

-20

169

130

7.7

1995-96

LAK

59

10

21

31

-14

148

118

8.5

1995-96

NYR

9

0

2

2

-6

21

12

0.0

1996-97

SJS

57

4

12

16

-6

186

74

5.4

1997-98

SJS

56

2

10

12

10

140

46

4.3

1998-99

EDM

46

2

3

5

-5

101

29

6.9

1999-00

BOS

27

2

3

5

2

62

24

8.3

8 yrs

LAK

472

71

163

234

10

1846

861

8.2

4 yrs

EDM

206

24

36

60

23

748

199

12.1

3 yrs

PIT

134

5

25

30

-51

378

208

2.4

2 yrs

SJS

113

6

22

28

4

326

120

5.0

1 yr

BOS

27

2

3

5

2

62

24

8.3

1 yr

NYR

9

0

2

2

-6

21

12

0.0

Career

961

108

251

359

-18

3381

1424

7.6

PLAYOFFS

Season

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1985-86

EDM

8

0

2

2

3

50

4

0.0

1986-87

EDM

21

4

3

7

8

65

21

19.0

1987-88

EDM

16

0

3

3

2

67

15

0.0

1988-89

LAK

11

0

2

2

-6

33

16

0.0

1989-90

LAK

10

1

3

4

-8

18

26

3.8

1990-91

LAK

12

0

0

0

-1

58

30

0.0

1991-92

LAK

6

1

0

1

1

21

10

10.0

1992-93

LAK

24

4

6

10

-2

60

42

9.5

1995-96

NYR

4

0

0

0

-1

0

3

0.0

1998-99

EDM

3

0

0

0

1

2

3

0.0

Career

115

10

19

29

-3

374

170

5.9

NOTABLE

“Wayne said to me, ‘Make sure you get McSorley.’ I worked that out pretty quickly, although Sather was not happy about the idea,” McNall said about how the biggest trade in the history of the NHL unfolded. When the greatest player ever to lace on the blades in the NHL makes you a part of a deal like that, you’re doing something right. That was McSorley, a ruffian on the ice and a smart, engaging guy off it.

The other thing about McSorley, of course, is he could play the game. As rugged and raw as he was when he broke into the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1983-84 after being undrafted, McSorley spent his years in Edmonton, and later in Los Angeles, working non-stop to become a better player. He started out as an unskilled enforcer who could throw opponents around for fun and didn’t stop striving to be better until he was a reliable player who could throw opponents around for fun.

With the Oilers, McSorley not only took a regular shift, he eventually took over from Dave Semenko as Gretzky’s designated muscle. In an era when some tough guys could barely play the game at the NHL level, the ability to do double duty served McSorley well on the way to winning two Stanley Cups in his first stint with the Oilers before he packed for Los Angeles.  

THE STORY

Slow of foot even with all the work he put in, McSorley played within his limits on the blue line and always had one eye out for trouble. Cross the line and you’d find Marty in the middle of the ensuing mayhem. In his first season with the Oilers he scored 11 goals. In his third, 1987-88, he had 26 points – not sluggo-level production, even in an era of inflated numbers.

Off the ice, McSorley was as easy-going as he was intense and ready to riot on it. I’ll never forget one early morning in Washington when we spent 30 minutes or so just walking around downtown and chatting about hockey and life in general before heading to the rink. Marty loved to walk. He loved to talk. But when the gate opened, he was ready to go.

Younger fans who don’t remember McSorley during his time in Edmonton might know him for the end of his career and an ugly incident during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks in 2000 – a hideous assault on Donald Brashear. It was an inexcusable act by the big lug and one that tainted his legacy as a tough, honest player who made the most out of the limited talent he had.

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.

PREVIOUSLY:

    • Jordan88

      Lucic, Maroon, Nurse, Larsson, Kassian.

      all nasty players listed in order of nastiness.

      Larsson has yet to show his ugly side but its there… and its very Prongerish.

      McDavid is coverd lol so is every other Oiler.

  • AdambomB

    I met Marty once at LAX, and he couldn’t have been a nicer guy. Interaction went something like this:
    Me: Hey Mr. McSorley (wearing Oilers hat)
    MM: Hey! Call me Marty, are you in LA for the game?
    ME: Yeah you bet, visiting some friends down here and heading to the game with them.
    MM: Awesome, make sure you head to Manhattan Beach bars, that is where all the players hang out. Oh.. hey you wanna picture
    ME: Uh sure.
    MM: Hey Lady (speaking to random passerby) will you take our picture? Thanks!
    The Guy was as chill as they come.

  • El Guapo

    Similar experience as AdambomB’s. I stopped in Cabela’s (think it was the one in Sherwood Park) and Marty was signing autographs (didn’t know ahead of time). Made each person that he signed for feel like a long time friend. Talked with my wife and me for about 10 minutes while he signed pictures for our three boys. Also got him to write out a funny one for a buddy of mine. Let my wife wear his ring for a picture with him and then got one with him myself. Super classy guy and a great ambassador for the team and the game.

      • Shameless Plugger

        Honest player?

        Mean and nasty? Sure. Hard to play against? Sure. Tough as nails? Sure.
        But honest, come on spearing a guy in the junk or slashing a guy in the head hardly spells honest player to me. He may have worked hard and you guys may have been buddy buddy off the ice but he was one of the dirtiest players in league history. That’s not an honest player in my eyes. Honest players don’t intentionally try to hurt guys with cheap shots. Sure he answered the bell when it rang but he wasn’t without his fair share of dirty/dishonest play.

          • Shameless Plugger

            Sorry but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that clubbing someone upside the head with your stick is an honest hockey play that’s somehow misunderstood as dirty. Honest players don’t deliberately try to injure or end guys careers.

        • camdog

          In respect to the Bullard spear – Gary Roberts ran McSorely from behind into the boards and he was still dazed when he speared Bullard. Was it right – well no, but the player that was dishonest on that play was Gary Roberts, it was his cheap shot that started the episode. Rather than taking responsibility for his actions, he let a team mate take the fall. It’s not any different than the game Tkachuk is playing right now.

  • positivebrontefan

    All this and acted in Conair as a pilot.
    He did come by his nickname Marty McSlowly honestly though.
    Always had a soft place in my heart for the big guy, glad he won a couple of cups with us before being shipped out with Gretzky.

  • Spydyr

    Anyone else remember the Battle Of Alberta when it happened in the playoffs?

    Risebrough ending up with McSorley’s sweater in the penalty box after a fight then proceeding to shred it with his skates. After the game Slats saying to the media he will be sending Risebrough a bill for the destroyed sweater.

    Good times.

  • Jay (not J)

    Hated the way his career ended in Boston and hated the way the Province of British Columbia had to stuff their 2 cents in. Brashear’s chin strap used to hang around his bloody knees, but it’s Marty’s fault when his helmet falls off?

    Great player, knew his role. In his era you couldn’t get things done without a guy like Marty on the ice keeping people honest. It’s no wonder that Gretz insisted he be part of the Kings deal.

    • @Hallsy4

      I like Marty, unfortunately never got to watch him until he was passed his prime. Needed guys like him absolutely, and yes I agree no wonder Gretz asked for him to be included, so he must have been the best at his role. However, I have to disagree with you on the Chin Strap stuff…. It was Marty’s fault that he hit Brashear in the head with his stick. I love violence in hockey, I wish there was more, but if you hit someone in the head with your stick like Marty did, he’s absolutely responsible for any of the consequences. IMO, Marty’s incident was head and shoulders worse than say the Bertuzzi incident.

  • fran huckzky

    Not that I condone violence but I have often wondered if Mike Bullard paid Marty for the vasectomy that Marty gave him. Classic battle of Alberta moment.

  • Derian Hatcher

    Great Oiler and great guy (I too, had a couple of memorable interactions with him and he couldn’t have been nicer) I remember the writers saying that his Dad would show up at random on the road to watch his boy play. And this pics with his dad after a cup win were fantastic. Love Marty.

  • fran huckzky

    Pretty much agree with Robin’s list so far. I think we all will probably all agree on 1 through 4 but the real argument will be about the fifth,sixth and seventh best all timers.

        • @Hallsy4

          Was just curious, I wasn’t around for the 80’s teams, but figure 1. Gretz (obviously) 2. Messier (again obvious I think) 3. Kurri (?) 4. Coffee (?) 5. Fuhr (?)

          I think eventually McDavid will be #3 or maybe even #2, but not in the time this list is made though. Curious to hear your top 5 or even 10!? I know all of the names from the 80’s, but as I said I never got to see those teams. Earliest I remember is pretty much all of the Dallas series era. Where would a guy like Doug Weight end up you figure? 10-15?

          • fran huckzky

            I’ll leave it for Robin and I am sure there wiil be lots of back and forth on here once he gets into the top 10 or 12. You have to figure Dougie pretty high but I don’t know how high.

    • Looch#27

      Is it just me or are you always bitter? I see your name is Hallsy so guessing your upset about that trade? Cheer up big guy we’re winning now!!! PC has done in 18 months what Klowe hasn’t been able to do in 10 years it’s all good brother!

      • @Hallsy4

        I liked the trade at the time, and like it even more now after seeing the way Larsson plays! In Chia Pete we trust, keep on keepin on brother good times ahead.

    • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Dance with the one tha brung ya: Moog’s 1981 series against the Habs was lights out, never mind a few more play off games in his career. That was Conn Smythe ‘tending in that 3 games that let the team know they could win in the playoffs.

      Ultimately the number Moog gets is meaningless to me, in the top 100, but he’s up there with the best whatever the number is.

      Amazing video: no ads, no helmets, no screens protecting fans from pucks, no glass in front of the penalty box, and about a dozen halll of famers and a Gretzky hatty.

      • MessyEH!

        Moog was great in his Oilers years and beyond Gretzky talks about how Moog usually played more regular season games then Fuhr but the team had complete confidence in him.

        Arguably the greatest doaltending duo of all time.

        McSorley is all class when dealing with the public. He takes time out of his life to attend so many fundraisers and events. It amazes me how hard some people work in retirement.The DB slash huants him, but everyone deserves forgiveness.Besides DB was just as bad.