33 Days Until The Season Begins

Cam Lewis
10 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane. Today at No. 33 we have Marty McSorley, one of the enforcers who served as a bodyguard for Wayne Gretzky.
McSorley wasn’t selected in the NHL draft but signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent. He broke into the league with the Pens in the 1983-84 season and racked up 224 penalty minutes as a 20-year-old.
After spending the next year between Pittsburgh and their AHL affiliate, the Baltimore Skipjacks, McSorley was traded a few weeks before the 1985-86 season started to the Oilers along with Tim Hrynewich and Craig Muni for goaltender Gilles Meloche.
McSorley landed in Edmonton with a bang. He broke out with 11 goals and 23 points in his first season with the Oilers and led the team with 265 penalty minutes. The team suffered a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs that year but won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1987 and 1988.
Following the second of those two Stanley Cups, the Oilers dealt Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings and McSorley was one of the two players that The Great One requested come along with him in the trade. Robin Brownlee previously wrote about how well McSorley played the role of Gretzky’s protector during his time with Edmonton and Los Angeles.
Marty McSorley never, ever needed Glen Sather or anybody else to draw him a picture about what his job description with the Edmonton Oilers was and he damn sure didn’t need a written invitation from opposing players to carry it out. McSorley’s job was to ride shotgun for Wayne Gretzky and the rest of a star-studded Oiler line-up and he did it with both barrels.
Happy and willing in his role was McSorley, and he was so good at it that when Edmonton owner Peter Pocklington sold Gretzky to Bruce McNall and the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1988, the Great One insisted that the big lug from Hamilton with the flowing blond hair make the journey with him to Tinseltown. If Gretzky had to go, he wasn’t packing light.
“Wayne said to me, ‘Make sure you get McSorley.’ I worked that out pretty quickly, although Sather was not happy about the idea,” McNall said about how the biggest trade in the history of the NHL unfolded. When the greatest player ever to lace on the blades in the NHL makes you a part of a deal like that, you’re doing something right. That was McSorley, a ruffian on the ice and a smart, engaging guy off it.


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