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40 Moments: Craig MacTavish vs Harvey the Hound

In order to celebrate the Edmonton Oilers’ 40-year anniversary AND distract ourselves during this hockey-less nightmare, we’ll be re-living 40 amazing moments from Oilers history. 

Since we probably should be watching that Calgary and Edmonton playoff series we’ve been craving for so long, I’m going to pivot this series over the next few days to look back at some incredible moments from the Battle of Alberta. Today, we have Craig MacTavish ripping the tongue off of Harvey the Hound. 

Many have been mounded in the Battle of Alberta. There have been big hits, there have been fights, and there have been tongues ripped out.

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The mid-1990s and early-2000s were forgettable times for both of Alberta’s franchises. The Oilers had sold off their entire team by 1993 and their dynasty days were well in the rearview mirror by that point. The Flames followed after them, missing the playoffs for seven seasons in a row starting in 1997.

Death Valley was no more. With both teams spending over a decade as mediocre at best, the Battle of Alberta lost a lot of its intensity.

Craig MacTavish is somebody that knows the Battle of Alberta very well. He took part in the Battle of Alberta 79 times in the regular season and 18 more times in the playoffs. By the time he got behind the bench to coach the Oilers in 2000, the Battle of Alberta might have hit a lull, but, for MacT, no love was lost on the Flames.

In January of 2002, the Oilers took the trek down to Calgary. The Oilers were battling for a playoff spot while the Flames had fallen out of the mix before Christmas. Despite the apparent mismatch, the Flames plowed through the Oilers in the first half of the game, giving themselves a commanding 4-0 lead before the end of the second period.

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To rub salt in the wound, Calgary’s mascot, Harvey the Hound, started to get the fans into the game by coming behind Edmonton’s bench to taunt the Oilers. MacTavish would have none of it.

MacTavish ripped Harvey’s tongue right out of his mouth, waved it around for a second, and tossed it casually back in the crowd. The Hound stood there, completely dumbfounded. For an intimate mascot costume, that thing’s facial expression somehow changed very quickly.

This all seemed to wake the Oilers up. They scored three goals in the third period to cut the score to 4-3, but it wasn’t enough as the Flames would end up skating away with the win. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter acknowledged that MacTavish ripping Harvey’s tongue out was key in Edmonton nearly pulling off the comeback.

“I saw it,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, rolling his eyes. “I also saw that it was one of the things that got them going.”

Years later, the Oilers finally welcomed a mascot to the team, Hunter the… uhh… jacked cat thing. He had an excellent teacher around to get him up to speed on things.