Oilers Start a Cup Tradition 29 Years Ago Today

Back in 1988, the Oilers won their fourth Stanley Cup against the Boston Bruins and turned the celebration into a tradition that lives on today.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always enjoyed watching the Stanley Cup get handed out and seeing the winning team crowd around the trophy for a group picture. I always found it interesting to see the sheer joy expressed on the faces of men that just spent the last two months killing themselves for a chance to win it all. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that this tradition was actually started by the Edmonton Oilers after winning their fourth Stanley Cup in five seasons.

After collecting the trophy from former NHL President, John Ziegler, the Oilers did the usual twirl around the ice with every player and coach taking turns raising it. When the Cup got back to Gretzky, he set it down near the Oilers logo and summoned his teammates, coaches, and trainers to crowd around for a group shot that has since become a yearly tradition for the winner.

At the time, Bob Cole described the group shot as a great moment that had never been seen before, and it’s pretty neat to see how things unfolded. Watch the entire video below:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    I remember this well. The Oilers were never quite the same after this. It was like Gretz somehow knew that everything would change that summer. 🙁

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Slightly related note. Anyone else notice how Stanley Cup champs now bring their families onto the ice to celebrate with them right after the game? Does anyone else hate this or is it just me?

    Before, it used to be just the team. And then it was the team and management, with a few media and photographers.
    Then, it was the team and management, media and photographers, and close family.
    Now, it seems like the rink is crowded right after the game with team and management, media and photographers, players’ family and friends, and even the owner’s pool boy.

    I hate this. I don’t even like the family being on the ice. YES, I realize that the players want to share one of the greatest moments in their lives with their spouses and children. YES, I realize that spouses and children are in a way “part of the team” and that they sacrifice for success to (e.g. dad is away from the family during playoffs). BUT I would prefer the NHL uphold the idea (illusion?) that the winning TEAM won the championship by playing FOR EACH OTHER and that they’re FAMILY. After all, these guys have the entire summer (or year really) to celebrate off the ice with their friends and family. I don’t care how cute player-X’s kids are lifting the cup with their daddy, let’s force the players to enjoy the moment with ONLY their brothers-in-arms during the Cup ceremony.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      For example, let’s say the Oilers won the cup this year (sigh…). Would it be cute to watch Patrick Maroon and his son lift the Cup together? Sure. But SAVE IT FOR THE AFTER PARTY. Would be it cool to watch Cam Talbot flank the Stanley Cup with his wife, one twin in each of their arms? Of course! But I honestly DON’T WANT to see that minutes after the team battled for/with each other to win the clinching game.

      It’s the same with the team photo tradition that this article is about. It was really, really cool when the Oilers spontaneously did it in 1988. It felt like a family photo. It felt like a, “hey, we’ll probably go separate ways after tonight but we’ll always have this photo and championship to show that we were once family”. That feeling of camaraderie is diluted when the league allows friends and family to be part of the immediate celebration. Maybe it’s not always authentic, but the NHL is entertainment and should try to FRAME it as that at least.

      • D

        Well from 1984 – 1987 in Edmonton, it was pretty much half the arena that emptied onto the ice. I was at the game in 1988 and remember security being posted all around the boards to prevent fans from jumping onto the rink.

          • D

            Agreed. It was more Wild West in the 1980s in Edmonton. Today there are issues like liability and injury, and you’re absolutely right that the NHL needs to be strict about who gets on the ice.

    • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

      It’s also kind of dangerous having kids and wives on the ice while big hockey players are skating around with a huge, heavy trophy over their heads…

  • D

    Was at that game with my dad. Never saw it on television. I agree with the other posters on here that Gretzky had an inkling that something was going to happen that summer. The City of Edmonton was never the same after 1988.

    • paul wodehouse

      …as I understood 99 was told that night just before he entered the after party at the Agricom with Janet that he would be having a meeting with Bruce McNall the next week…and btw not only the City of Edmonton was never the same either was 99… a bad bit of sports history

  • madjam

    It’s fitting family members join in with the players . Always enjoy their interaction and sharing with loved ones , adds more to the celebrations and the human element .