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Top 100 Oilers: Randy Gregg (12)

There have been countless players better and more talented than Dr. Randy Gregg – certainly many more than the 11 names above him on this Top 100 list – who’ve played for the Edmonton Oilers since 1979. That said, I can’t think of anybody whose path to the NHL and five Stanley Cup parades with the Oilers is as unlikely or as fascinating.

Gregg played 453 regular season games with the Oilers and 130 more in the playoffs on the way to those five Cup celebrations. No small feat for somebody who considered hockey little more than a pastime he’d eventually have to give up when he was accepted into medical school at the University of Alberta. Hardly. Before he was done, Gregg would win two CIAU national titles with the Golden Bears, play for Canada’s Olympic team twice and hoist those five Cups with the Oilers. Oh, and he became a doctor.

Randy Gregg

Defence — shoots L
Born Feb 19, 1956 — Edmonton, ALTA
Height 6.04 — Weight 210 [193 cm/95 kg]

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1982-83

26

EDM

80

6

22

28

15

54

94

6.4

1983-84

27

EDM

80

13

27

40

40

56

91

14.3

1984-85

28

EDM

57

3

20

23

27

32

58

5.2

1985-86

29

EDM

64

2

26

28

30

47

55

3.6

1986-87

30

EDM

52

8

16

24

36

42

59

13.6

1987-88

31

EDM

15

1

2

3

4

8

20

5.0

1988-89

32

EDM

57

3

15

18

-9

28

42

7.1

1989-90

33

EDM

48

4

20

24

24

42

41

9.8

1991-92

35

VAN

21

1

4

5

-3

24

19

5.3

8 yrs EDM

453

40

148

188

167

309

460

8.7

1 yr VAN

21

1

4

5

-3

24

19

5.3

Career

474

41

152

193

164

333

479

8.6

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1981-82

25

EDM

4

0

0

0

-2

0

5

0.0

1982-83

26

EDM

16

2

4

6

14

13

16

12.5

1983-84

27

EDM

19

3

7

10

16

21

32

9.4

1984-85

28

EDM

17

0

6

6

19

12

17

0.0

1985-86

29

EDM

10

1

0

1

3

12

6

16.7

1986-87

30

EDM

18

3

6

9

8

17

29

10.3

1987-88

31

EDM

19

1

8

9

17

24

22

4.5

1988-89

32

EDM

7

1

0

1

4

4

8

12.5

1989-90

33

EDM

20

2

6

8

1

16

17

11.8

1991-92

35

VAN

7

0

1

1

3

8

3

0.0

Career

137

13

38

51

83

127

155

8.4

NOTABLE

That Gregg became a reliable and somewhat unheralded member of the Oilers’ blueline at all is remarkable, given the road he took to get to the NHL. His studies, he’d promised himself and his family, would come first. That didn’t stop Gregg from trying out for the Golden Bears. Four years and two CIAU titles later, Gregg joined the Canadian national program and played in the 1980 Olympics. Later, he’d play in Japan. All this before he even accepted a contract offer from Oiler GM Glen Sather.

“I knew it would be impossible to do medicine and hockey, too, but I also knew that I’d be cut from the team long before it made any difference or before my brother found out,” said Gregg, who couldn’t have been more wrong about not even being good enough to make the Bears. “In a nutshell, two or three practices became ten, then twenty, then we had exhibition games, and, well, four years of university hockey later . . .”

Gregg had three teams bidding for his services, including the Oilers, Calgary Flames and New York Rangers, when he decided to turn pro. He picked his hometown team, leaving a medical internship in town and getting into four games with the Oilers in the 1982 playoffs – he was partnered with Paul Coffey — without having played a regular season game. Gregg became a full-time Oiler in 1982-83. The following season, 1983-84, Gregg enjoyed the best NHL season of his career with 13-27-40 and the Oilers went on to win their first Stanley Cup. Gregg had a career-high 10 points in those playoffs.

THE STORY

Unlike the stars dotting Edmonton’s line-up, Gregg was never a player who pulled you out of your seat. He didn’t jump into the attack like Coffey did. As big as Gregg was, he wasn’t a banger who punished opposing forwards. He didn’t fight. What Gregg did effectively – most often paired with Don Jackson – was get in the way, concentrate on his own end of the rink, move the puck and make the right play. Gregg was decidedly un-spectacular but unquestionably effective playing behind the big guns up front.

There were some bumps in the road during Gregg’s tenure with the Oilers to be sure. There would be contract holdouts. With the option of a medical career, Gregg retired, however briefly, more than once. He played with Canada in the 1988 Olympics down the road in Calgary. Truth is, Gregg didn’t much like the way the Oilers were being run as owner Peter Pocklington’ financial house of cards began to collapse and players were sold off. Gregg hung on through the 1990 playoffs, becoming just one of seven players to have his name on all five of Edmonton’s Cups.

Gregg finished his career with the Vancouver Canucks, playing just 21 regular season games and seven more in the playoffs in 1991-92. His last NHL game was May 12, 1992 and it was against the Oilers right here in Edmonton in the second round. The Canucks lost in six games. It just didn’t look right seeing Gregg in Vancouver colors that spring or watching him shake hands with the few remaining former teammates he’d toiled so long and so well with when Game 6 was done. All told, a wonderful and unlikely career as a five-time Stanley Cup champion.

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.

PREVIOUSLY:

  • madjam

    Gregg always had the ability to force players to outside and the boards , without having to pummel them . Even in front of net he would get the best positioning to move them out using his size , stick and body , and once again not having to rely on dirty tactics to clear those areas . Clean, well respected by opposition , and very effective player for the most part .

  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    If memory serves me right there was a game I watched and there was a player getting stitches by the trainer ,in the walkway ,just off from the bench and then another player got hit with a puck and the Randy Gregg had to stitch him up as well.
    The sight was very odd seeing one hockey player stitch up another.
    Imagine what you would think if you had no knowledge of Randy Gregg being a doctor?

  • ubermiguel

    I admire doctors and NHL players for similar reasons: to get where they are takes hard-work, drive, skill and talent. Does that mean I doubly admire Doctor Randy Gregg? I sure do. Truly one of the most interesting Edmontonians ever.

  • Rock11

    I loved Randy Gregg but when he wasn’t on the list before now I assumed he didn’t make the top 100 cut. That would have been more appropriate than having him in at 11. Great story and all and if you are making a list of the best origin stories in Oiler history Gregg would be right up there. As a player though he might, MIGHT, be inside the top 25 D-men in Oiler history. I’m sure Brownlee would tell us that this is his list and not meant to be a comprehensive objective list but its hard to take the rest of the rankings seriously if Gregg is at 11. Too fetishistic to the dynasty teams for my taste.

      • Rock11

        No, I really love Randy Gregg. My dad had an accident and was badly burned and Randy Gregg was on rotation while he was in the hospital and was very nice. He was also a real solid 4-5 dman on those dynasty teams. I would argue that Coffey, Lowe, and Huddy were all better on the same team. If you are the 4th best d-man on a single year team its hard to justify being the 11th best player in team history. That is especially true when that team has a handful of hall of famers at forward or in goal.

    • Marshall Law

      Agreed. If he hadn’t played during the glory years, would he be within a country mile of this position? I think it’s fair to be a fan of someone but still be able to objectively determine that he’s way too high on this list. I look at the “PREVIOUSLY:” section at the bottom of the piece and can’t objectively justify putting Gregg ahead of many of those names.

      • ubermiguel

        I was thinking the same thing. But the list is “Top Oilers” not necessarily “Best At Playing Hockey”. Five Cups and a long tenure counts. And the fact he held his own among all those Hall of Famers is not insignificant. Based on that I might have put him below Fogolin in the 20 range.

  • Blue Bullet

    I would have had Gregg a little lower on my list but it is all subjective. On my list Huddy, Moog, Smith, MacT and Simpson are all ahead of the Doctor.

    • Stanley Cup success plays into things heavily for me, as I wrote at the very start to set-up this series. Thus, a reference to that in the opening line of this item — “There have been countless players better and more talented than Dr. Randy Gregg – certainly many more than the 11 names above him on this Top 100 list . . . ” If individual talent and statitistics were my first measures, this list would look much different, but they aren’t and that has been explained more than once since the series started.

  • Rama Lama

    Pretty hard not to like this player……..gave it everything, and left it all on the ice. The five rings is hard to argue against but I would have had this player in the top 25 for sure. You surprised me on this one RB!

  • mb

    Seriously? What I remember most was when he played for team Canada at the Olympics in Calgary. Met him after a game team Canada lost 7 to 1. He was so happy because he scored the 1 goal. Nope he should of stayed in Japan playing for the Bunnies.

    P.S. Robin do you get a discount from Gregg for putting him at 11!

    • What you remember most? Mark, the record books somehow missed the 7-1 loss by Team Canada you cited. If what you remember most didn’t actually happen, I’m guessing your account of meeting Gregg is probably best taken with a grain of salt. Care to try again?

      • Hey Robin, 5mins of research says that Canada lost 3-1 (not 7-1) to Finland Feb 18/88 and that Randy Gregg did score the only goal for Canada in that game…….i’m pretty sure we can cut Mark a break for misremembering an exact score from 29yrs ago. Any chance you want to respond differently?

        • Nope. If you want to accept part of the recollection, the characterization that Gregg was so happy because he scored the only goal — suggesting he’s a selfish player — but disregard other parts of it, like being a mile off on the score, then go ahead. I’ll take it with a grain of salt, if that’s OK with you.