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65 Days Until The Season Begins

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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, we have Mark Napier, a World Hockey Association star who won a Stanley Cup late in his career with the Oilers.
Napier was a highly-touted young hockey player growing up in Toronto and he put himself on the map with a 130-point season for the Toronto Marlboros of the then-called Ontario Major Junior Hockey League in 1974-75.
Since the NHL’s draft age was 20 at that time, Napier did what many other teenage stars did at that time to make money — sign with a World Hockey Association team.
Napier inked a deal with the Toronto Toros, a team that had already stirred up a tremendous amount of animosity by stealing big-name players like Frank Mahovlich and Paul Henderson from the Maple Leafs. While the Toros posted a terrible 24-52-5 record in 1975-76, Napier broke into professional hockey with 43 goals and 93 points and was named the league’s top rookie.
The Toros packed up shop and moved to Birmingham, Alabama the following year and became the Bulls. Napier spent two seasons playing with the Bulls and then left to join the Montreal Canadiens for the 1978-79 season. Despite him playing in the WHA, the Habs had selected Napier with the No. 10 overall pick in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft.
Napier scored 11 goals and 31 points over 54 games in his first season in the NHL and helped the Habs win their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup in the spring. He played a few more years in Montreal and got traded to the Minnesota North Stars for Bobby Smith, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft a few years earlier. After a couple of half-seasons with Minnesota, Napier was dealt to the Oilers, where he teamed up with his brother-in-law and Montreal teammate, Pat Hughes.

Edmonton Journal Newspaper Clipping From January 25, 1985.

PLAYER COUNTDOWN PRESENTED BY BETWAY


Napier had reached the Clarence Campbell Conference Finals in 1984 but the North Stars were swept by the Oilers en route to their first-ever Stanley Cup. He got to see the view from the other side in 1985. He scored five goals and 10 points over 18 games in the playoffs for the Oilers as they cruised to their second of back-to-back Stanley Cups.
After another season-and-a-half with the Oilers, Napier got traded along with Lee Fogolin to the Buffalo Sabres for Normand Lacombe and Wayne Van Dorp. Napier played two more seasons in the NHL and then finished off his career playing in Italy and Switzerland.
He scored 235 goals and 541 points over 767 NHL games and 136 goals and 254 points over 237 WHA games. Napier wore No. 65 while with the Oilers and Sabres in honour of a Cystic Fibrosis charity called 65 Roses that he supported.

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