21

Top 100 Oilers: Kevin McClelland (21)

When the Edmonton Oilers staged a reunion in 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of their first Stanley Cup win back in 1984, Kevin McClelland was the only player from that team who didn’t attend. McClelland, coaching in Wichita at the time, had planned to drive to Edmonton – he’s afraid of flying – but he didn’t manage to get away in time to attend the big bash.

That’s noteworthy on a couple of fronts. First, I didn’t know that McClelland, who rode shotgun with the Boys on the Bus for parts of seven seasons, was afraid of anything. Second, it’s McClelland who scored one of the biggest goals in franchise history – the only goal in a 1-0 win over the defending champion New York Islanders in Game 1 of the 1984 Stanley Cup final. The goal that started the dynasty days the Oilers enjoyed in the 1980s.

Kevin McClelland

Right Wing — shoots R
Born Jul 4 1962 — Oshawa, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 190 [183 cm/86 kg]

Drafted by Hartford Whalers

Round 4 #71 overall 1980 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1981-82

19

PIT

10

1

4

5

6

4

18

5.6

1982-83

20

PIT

38

5

4

9

-18

73

70

7.1

1983-84

21

TOT

76

10

24

34

2

189

105

9.5

1983-84

21

PIT

24

2

4

6

-7

62

40

5.0

1983-84

21

EDM

52

8

20

28

9

127

65

12.3

1984-85

22

EDM

62

8

15

23

-11

205

96

8.3

1985-86

23

EDM

79

11

25

36

9

266

104

10.6

1986-87

24

EDM

72

12

13

25

-4

238

76

15.8

1987-88

25

EDM

74

10

6

16

1

281

61

16.4

1988-89

26

EDM

79

6

14

20

-10

161

43

14.0

1989-90

27

TOT

71

5

6

11

-6

196

31

16.1

1989-90

27

EDM

10

1

1

2

-1

13

7

14.3

1989-90

27

DET

61

4

5

9

-5

183

24

16.7

1990-91

28

DET

3

0

0

0

-4

7

1

0.0

1991-92

29

TOR

18

0

1

1

-3

33

5

0.0

1993-94

31

WIN

6

0

0

0

0

19

1

0.0

7 yrs EDM

428

56

94

150

-7

1291

452

12.4

3 yrs PIT

72

8

12

20

-19

139

128

6.3

2 yrs DET

64

4

5

9

-9

190

25

16.0

1 yr WIN

6

0

0

0

0

19

1

0.0

1 yr TOR

18

0

1

1

-3

33

5

0.0

Career

588

68

112

180

-38

1672

611

11.1

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1981-82

19

PIT

5

1

1

2

5

1983-84

21

EDM

18

4

6

10

13

42

32

12.5

1984-85

22

EDM

18

1

3

4

4

75

22

4.5

1985-86

23

EDM

10

1

0

1

-1

32

7

14.3

1986-87

24

EDM

21

2

3

5

-6

43

24

8.3

1987-88

25

EDM

19

2

3

5

-1

68

13

15.4

1988-89

26

EDM

7

0

2

2

3

16

7

0.0

Career

98

11

18

29

12

281

105

9.5

NOTABLE

Having been swept 4-0 by the Islanders in the 1983 Cup final, the Oilers showed up for the encore in 1984 needing a reason to believe they could unseat the reigning champs, who’d shown rather emphatically a year before that they weren’t ready to loosen their grip on the silverware. McClelland, a hard-nosed journeyman centre who’d been obtained from the Pittsburgh Penguins during the off-season, provided it.

McClelland hacked a puck past Billy Smith on the short side and Grant Fuhr took care of the rest with 34 saves for the shutout as the Oilers drew first blood in the first game of the 1984 Cup final in Uniondale. Dominated a year earlier, the Oilers never looked back. While the Islanders bounced back in Game 2, the Oilers blitzed them the rest of the way with 7-2, 7-2 and 5-2 wins, popping the champagne corks at Northlands Coliseum after Game 5.

“That’s the biggest win of our careers,” Paul Coffey said after that franchise-altering first game on Long Island. “Belief. That’s the biggest barrier we had to overcome. I mean, it’s tough for a team to believe they can beat a four-time Stanley Cup championship team. But now we believe. We believe!”

THE STORY

It was Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy with 26 points, and the usual suspects who took over the series in the final three games in Edmonton, but it was McClelland who got things started. McClelland, who had just eight goals that regular season, scored four in the 1984 playoffs – none bigger than that 1-0 goal against the defending champs.

McClelland was a role player here to be sure. In his best season, he had 36 points. His calling card was grinding, hitting and fighting – doing the dirty work, just like Marty McSorley, Dave Semenko and so many others did with Edmonton’s Stanley Cup teams. In the bad old days when the Battle of Alberta was a battle, when intimidation was a bigger part of the game, McClelland was front and centre.

By the time McClelland was done in Edmonton, he had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. In November 1989, McClelland was traded to the Detroit Red Wings with Jimmy Carson for Adam Graves, Petr Klima, Joe Murphy and Jeff Sharples. The first three played a big part in Edmonton’s fifth Cup win in 1990. In that context, McClelland had his fingerprints all over the Oilers’ glory years from start to finish.

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:

  • Bryan in SK

    I was 11 years old and just got home from baseball practice to see THE GOAL. Who’d have thought that Kevin McClelland would have produced a “Remember Where You Where When…” moment that is just as remarkable 33 years later.

      • Shameless Plugger

        You mean that player that’s playing on a checking line and doing so successfully. The hardest thing to do when your struggling is finding ways to contribute. Eberle has completely reinvented his game. Personal stats don’t mean squat in the playoffs, wins do. You’re negativity towards a guy who is contributing in a way you said he couldn’t is old and stale. Just enjoy the playoffs man. We all know you hate Eberle. But don’t let your hate blind you to the things he’s doing well. Remember those are the things you preached all year he wasn’t capable of.

      • Thumby

        I will watch closely today at the rink. To my eye so far, Eberle is not worth his 6 million and I’d rather protect someone else. You can find better / stronger / more productive wingers for 6 million. And no, I don’t think you can call crapping the bed all year a “short term slump”….

    • Nothing to do with age. This isn’t a list of the best 100 Oiler players of all-time. If it was, it would look different. I spelled out what I’d be factoring in at the start of the series and I’ve remained true to that.

        • In part: “As I’m compiling my list, I’m weighting certain things more heavily than others. Notably, the first guys on my list are those who contributed to all those Stanley Cup parades on Jasper Ave. For me, a player who was a member of multiple Stanley Cup winners, even as a role player, is going to make that list of 100, likely in the top-25.”

  • Rama Lama

    Remember him well…….always tough, never backed down, and could dig a puck out of the corner. It would have been nice to see him at the reunion to see what he looks like now. I’m from this “era”, and there were players I could not recognize at the reunion, but I suspect Mclleland would stand out just because of his nose!

  • positivebrontefan

    Kevin McClelland was my favorite player growing up, I wore number 24 because of him. Love that he cracked your top 25 Robin. I met Semenko once and chatted for a bit about those teams, I mentioned that my favorite player was #24 and he chuckled, put his massive mitt on my shoulder and said, “well then you certainly know character. McLelland wasn’t a big guy, but certainly played like one.”
    We need guys like that if we are going to make our way back to that Stanly Cup.

    Thanks for the article Robin. Good to see guys like Kevin get recognized.

    • “It was Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy with 26 points, and the usual suspects who took over the series in the final three games in Edmonton, but it was McClelland who got things started.”

      What part of this did you fail to comprehend?