5

Top 100 Oilers: Lee Fogolin (19)

It goes without saying Lee Fogolin is best remembered in Edmonton Oilers’ folklore as the player who turned over the captaincy of the team to Wayne Gretzky. While the shift of that letter from one jersey to another in October 1983 coincided with Edmonton’s transition from WHA upstarts and new kids on the NHL block to Stanley Cup champions, there was much more to Fogolin than that.

Acquired by the Oilers from the Buffalo Sabres in the 1979 Expansion Draft, Fogolin wasn’t just a placeholder for the Gretzky captaincy, he was an honest team-first player who was as tough as anybody and did whatever it took to win. In that regard, he was very much the same as Jason Smith, who’d wear the “C” for Edmonton further down the line and is No. 20 on this Top 100 list. More than that. Fogolin was one of a handful of veterans who showed a group of brash and ridiculously talented young Oilers the ropes before that first sip from the Stanley Cup.

Lee Fogolin

Defense
Born Feb 15 1955 — Chicago, IL
Height 6.00 — Weight 200 [183 cm/91 kg]

Drafted by Buffalo Sabres

Round 1 #11 overall 1974 NHL Amateur Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1974-75

19

BUF

50

2

2

4

0

59

14

14.3

1975-76

20

BUF

58

0

9

9

15

64

61

0.0

1976-77

21

BUF

71

3

15

18

9

100

76

3.9

1977-78

22

BUF

76

0

23

23

7

98

77

0.0

1978-79

23

BUF

74

3

19

22

-4

103

70

4.3

1979-80

24

EDM

80

5

10

15

-8

104

90

5.6

1980-81

25

EDM

80

13

17

30

2

139

89

14.6

1981-82

26

EDM

80

4

25

29

40

154

98

4.1

1982-83

27

EDM

72

0

18

18

24

92

66

0.0

1983-84

28

EDM

80

5

16

21

33

125

73

6.8

1984-85

29

EDM

79

4

14

18

16

126

63

6.3

1985-86

30

EDM

80

4

22

26

47

129

71

5.6

1986-87

31

TOT

44

1

5

6

-4

25

42

2.4

1986-87

31

EDM

35

1

3

4

-2

17

37

2.7

1986-87

31

BUF

9

0

2

2

-2

8

5

0.0

8 yrs EDM

586

36

125

161

152

886

587

6.1

6 yrs BUF

338

8

70

78

25

432

303

2.6

Career

924

44

195

239

177

1318

890

4.9

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1974-75

19

BUF

8

0

0

0

6

1975-76

20

BUF

9

0

4

4

23

1976-77

21

BUF

4

0

0

0

2

1977-78

22

BUF

6

0

2

2

23

1978-79

23

BUF

3

0

0

0

4

1979-80

24

EDM

3

0

0

0

4

1980-81

25

EDM

9

0

0

0

12

1981-82

26

EDM

5

1

1

2

14

1982-83

27

EDM

16

0

5

5

36

1983-84

28

EDM

19

1

4

5

10

23

22

4.5

1984-85

29

EDM

18

3

1

4

8

16

10

30.0

1985-86

30

EDM

8

0

2

2

3

10

7

0.0

Career

108

5

19

24

21

173

39

10.3

NOTABLE

While Fogolin was only 24 when he arrived in Edmonton in the Expansion Draft, he already had five NHL seasons with Buffalo on his resume. Gretzky and Mark Messier were teenagers. Kevin Lowe was 20. Guys like Fogolin, Blair MacDonald, Stan Weir, Al Hamilton, Bill Flett and Colin Campbell were the experienced hands on the wheel of what would become The Boys on the Bus.

Fogolin never put up big numbers during his tenure in Edmonton – his best season was 1980-81 when he had 30 points. What he did do was bang, battle, block shots and fight while taking care of his end of the rink with Gretzky and the rest up the ice filling the net. Fogolin’s calling card was doing the dirty work while working in pairings with Campbell, Poul Popiel and Lowe. Did I mention he was tough? Mercy.

According to a story by author Peter Gzowski, there was a night before a game in Hartford the 1980-81 season when Fogolin couldn’t sleep because of a terrible toothache. Instead of waiting until morning to see a dentist and have the tooth repaired or removed, Fogolin opted to yank it out of his head himself with a bent-up coat hanger in his hotel room. You don’t screw around with a guy like that.

THE STORY

It wasn’t like Fogolin was Father Time when he decided to turn the team captaincy over to Gretzky. Fogolin was 28 when he handed over the “C” to the Great One. It was obvious to everybody, including Fogolin, by then Gretzky and the other the young, rising stars in the Oiler room were the future of the franchise. It was time to make way for them.

It happened on Oct. 4, 1983 after morning practice during training camp. Reporters were asked to clear the room, as usual, during a team meeting. When the doors opened again, Fogolin had passed the captaincy to No. 99. “I’ve talked about it for some time,” said Fogolin that morning. “Maybe a change like this will help us win the Stanley Cup.” It did.

Both of Fogolin’s Cups with the Oilers came after the obvious transition was made official with the passing of the “C” – the first in the 1984 playoffs against the defending champion Islanders and the second in 1985. Fogolin missed out on the third Cup with the Oilers when he was traded back to Buffalo in March of 1987 at the trade deadline. He’d play just nine games with the Sabres before retiring. Fogolin continues to make his home in Edmonton.

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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