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Photo Credit: Mike Powell

Top 100 Oilers: Joe Murphy (26)

By the time I arrived here in late December of 1989 and was told by my editor at the Edmonton Journal to follow Jim Matheson over to Northlands Coliseum, stay the hell out of the way and help him with coverage of the Oilers, many of the big names from the teams that had already won four Stanley Cup were gone.

Wayne Gretzky had been sold to the Los Angeles Kings and Paul Coffey had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, to name just two. Mark Messier, now captain, remained. So did Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Esa Tikkanen, Charlie Huddy and Grant Fuhr. It was a diminished group, but one that was good enough to produce yet one more run at a Stanley Cup. Enter Joe Murphy and a couple of other youngsters named Adam Graves and Martin Gelinas, who formed the Kid Line.

Joe Murphy

Right Wing
Born Oct 16 1967 — London, ONT
Height 6.01 — Weight 190 [185 cm/86 kg]

Drafted by Detroit Red Wings

Round 1 #1 overall 1986 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1986-87

19

DET

5

0

1

1

0

2

3

0.0

1987-88

20

DET

50

10

9

19

-4

37

82

12.2

1988-89

21

DET

26

1

7

8

-7

28

29

3.4

1989-90

22

TOT

71

10

19

29

5

60

117

8.5

1989-90

22

DET

9

3

1

4

4

4

16

18.8

1989-90

22

EDM

62

7

18

25

1

56

101

6.9

1990-91

23

EDM

80

27

35

62

2

35

141

19.1

1991-92

24

EDM

80

35

47

82

17

52

193

18.1

1992-93

25

CHI

19

7

10

17

-3

18

43

16.3

1993-94

26

CHI

81

31

39

70

1

111

222

14.0

1994-95

27

CHI

40

23

18

41

7

89

120

19.2

1995-96

28

CHI

70

22

29

51

-3

86

212

10.4

1996-97

29

STL

75

20

25

45

-1

69

151

13.2

1997-98

30

TOT

37

9

13

22

9

36

81

11.1

1997-98

30

STL

27

4

9

13

8

22

52

7.7

1997-98

30

SJS

10

5

4

9

1

14

29

17.2

1998-99

31

SJS

76

25

23

48

10

73

176

14.2

1999-00

32

TOT

55

12

15

27

1

94

118

10.2

1999-00

32

BOS

26

7

7

14

-7

41

68

10.3

1999-00

32

WSH

29

5

8

13

8

53

50

10.0

2000-01

33

WSH

14

1

5

6

-5

20

22

4.5

4 yrs CHI

210

83

96

179

2

304

597

13.9

4 yrs DET

90

14

18

32

-7

71

130

10.8

3 yrs EDM

222

69

100

169

20

143

435

15.9

2 yrs SJS

86

30

27

57

11

87

205

14.6

2 yrs STL

102

24

34

58

7

91

203

11.8

2 yrs WSH

43

6

13

19

3

73

72

8.3

1 yr BOS

26

7

7

14

-7

41

68

10.3

Career

779

233

295

528

29

810

1710

13.6

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1987-88

20

DET

8

0

1

1

-2

6

5

0.0

1989-90

22

EDM

22

6

8

14

1

16

29

20.7

1990-91

23

EDM

15

2

5

7

3

14

22

9.1

1991-92

24

EDM

16

8

16

24

2

12

32

25.0

1992-93

25

CHI

4

0

0

0

-2

8

8

0.0

1993-94

26

CHI

6

1

3

4

2

25

12

8.3

1994-95

27

CHI

16

9

3

12

-1

29

69

13.0

1995-96

28

CHI

10

6

2

8

1

33

38

15.8

1996-97

29

STL

6

1

1

2

-2

10

8

12.5

1997-98

30

SJS

6

1

1

2

-1

20

10

10.0

1998-99

31

SJS

6

0

3

3

0

4

21

0.0

1999-00

32

WSH

5

0

0

0

-2

8

8

0.0

Career

120

34

43

77

-1

185

262

13.0

NOTABLE

Messier, pushing 30, was the man for John Muckler’s team during the post-Gretzky era. No mistake about that, not with 129 points in the 1989-90 regular season. Kurri and Anderson were still go-to guys as well. Still, it was questionable if the Oilers, a 90-point team, had enough depth, even with Craig Simpson and Petr Klima in the mix, to get the better of teams like Boston (101 points), Buffalo (98 points) and the hated Calgary Flames (99 points).

Muckler got the secondary bang he was looking for when he put Murphy, a former first overall draft pick by the Detroit Red Wings, Graves, who’d come with Murphy along with Klima in the Jimmy Carson trade, and Gelinas, part of the Gretzky deal, together. Murphy, who managed just 25 points in 62 games during the regular season, would be the catalyst on the line with 14 points in 22 post-season games (Graves had 11 points and Gelinas five).

Messier and Simpson led the charge with 31 points each while Kurri had 25, Tikkanen 24 and Anderson 22, but the Kid Line played a big hand in pushing the Oilers over the top as they beat Winnipeg in the first round, Los Angeles in the second, Chicago in the third and Boston in the 1990 Cup final. Murphy got the Game 4 winner in overtime to end the series against the Kings and the game-winner and series-decider in Game 6 against Chicago.

THE STORY

That last sweet sip of champagne for the Oilers wasn’t even Murphy’s finest overall playoff performance in Edmonton. That would come during the 1992 playoffs. Murphy, who had his best regular season as an Oiler with 35-47-82, followed that with a team-leading 24 points in 16 post-season games, including two game-winners against Vancouver in the second round. The Oilers were swept in four games by Chicago in the third round.

All told, Murphy amassed 45 points in 53 playoff games with the Oilers, including the 1991 playoffs when he had just seven points in 15 games. The bottom line is that while Murphy never did live up to the billing that came as a first overall draft pick as an NHLer after being taken by Detroit, he was mostly money when it really mattered during his tenure in Edmonton.

“They put our line together about the third game of the playoffs and all I recall is us just saying ‘Let’s go out there and work hard,’” Gelinas said of the 1990 Cup team. “Murph had a lot of skill and Gravy was the big, heavy guy. All three of us combined created a pretty good energy and a big buzz. We got some timely goals, but more importantly when we were on the ice we were just making things happen.”

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:

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

    A great clutch secondary piece, the type of critical depth any team needs to be successful. I had forgotten he had been a former 1st overall pick. Sometimes when we are beating up on Oiler management about first rounders that don’t work out we forget that it happens to others as well.

    • Jehu23

      first US college trained player taken 1st overall… DiPietro is the only other.

      This was the Kim Issel draft year… pretty smack dab in the middle of a run where Jeff Beukeboom was the only 1st rounder to play 50+ games for the Oilers between the Fuhr (’81) and Arnott (’93) picks – including the ’90 draft where not one player the Oilers took ever played an NHL game. Yikes.

  • Oilinmyblood

    How is it that Murphy is this high on the list. He had a couple of good playoffs, but by no means warrants being ahead of some of the other stellar names. I’d love to hear more justification to Murphy being ahead of Hall, Horcoff or Joseph (and many others).

  • Rama Lama

    Now there is a player that I totally forgot about………not sure why? It’s getting down to the hardest part of writing this series, I’m glad I’m not doing it. For the most part I agree with you rankings so far……..but the real fun will be in the top ten, just saying.