85 Days Until The Season Begins
By Cam Lewis7 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, let’s talk about Petr Klima, an unexpected hero who scored one of the most memorable goals in team history.
When the Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles in the summer of 1988, the best player coming back to Edmonton in return was Jimmy Carson, who the Kings had selected with the second-overall pick in the draft a couple of years earlier.
It was impossible for the Oilers to get a player as good as Gretzky back in that trade but Carson appeared to at least be somebody in the same stratosphere. He broke into the NHL with 79 points as a rookie in 1986-87 and then followed that up in 1987-88 by becoming only the second teenager in league history to score 50 goals in a season. Gretzky, of course, was the first to do so.
Carson’s first season with the Oilers was a success. He led the team with 49 goals and finished second behind only Jari Kurri with 100 points. Carson’s second season in Edmonton lasted four games before he demanded a trade.
After sitting out for nearly a month, the Oilers struck a deal to send Carson to his hometown Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Petr Klima, Joe Murphy, Adam Graves, and Jeff Sharples.
Edmonton Journal Clipping From November 3, 1989
Having the centrepiece of the Gretzky trade demand to be moved after just one season naturally rubbed salt in Edmonton’s wounds but this trade worked out nicely for the Oilers. Murphy and Graves were young players with draft pedigree and potential while Klima was viewed as the one who could step in and help the team immediately.
Klima was a mysterious talent who played in Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s. He made a name for himself as a prospect at the World Juniors in 1983 when he scored four goals and eight points over seven games and helped his country to a silver medal. The Red Wings selected him in that summer’s draft and then orchestrated for him to defect to the United States a couple of years later. He opted to wear No. 85 in the NHL in recognition of the year he made the journey overseas.
Klima broke into the NHL as a 21-year-old in 1985-86 with 32 goals and 56 points and continued to rack up points for the Red Wings over the coming years. By the time he was traded to Edmonton, Klima had 130 goals and 223 points over 306 games at the NHL level, though his minus-47 rating in Detroit highlighted the deficiencies in his defensive game.
That production continued when Klima landed in Edmonton. He scored 25 goals and 48 points for the Oilers over 63 regular-season games and he added five goals during the team’s run to the Stanley Cup in the spring.
The biggest of those five goals came in Game 1 of the Cup Final. The Oilers got out to a 2-0 lead to quiet the fans at the Boston Gardens but the Bruins battled back with two third-period goals to force overtime. The Oilers and Bruins played nearly an entire 60-minute game’s worth of overtime before Klima came off the bench and scored the winner.
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The Oilers wound up defeating the Bruins in five games to capture their fifth Stanley Cup in team history and their first without Wayne Gretzky. Game 1, which finally ended at 15:13 of the third overtime period, still stands as the longest in Stanley Cup Final history.
Klima spent three more seasons with the Oilers before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1993. He had a short stint in Edmonton during the 1996-97 season and retired from the NHL in 1999. Klima scored 313 goals and 573 points over 786 games over his NHL career and 119 goals and 209 points over 274 games with the Oilers. He passed away at the age of 58 back in March at his home in Chomutov.
How many days are left until the Edmonton Oilers start the 2023-24 season? 85! Can you guess who will be featured in tomorrow’s countdown?
- 99 Days Until The Season Begins — Wayne Gretzky
- 98 Days Until The Season Begins — Jesse Puljujarvi
- 97 Days Until The Season Begins — Connor McDavid
- 96 Days Until The Season Begins — Jayden Grubbe
- 95 Days Unit The Season Begins — The 1995 Draft
- 94 Days Until The Season Begins — Ryan Smyth
- 93 Days Until The Season Begins — Petr Nedved
- 92 Days Until The Season Begins — Tomas Jurco
- 91 Days Until The Season Begins — Magnus Paajarvi
- 90 Days Until The Season Begins — The 1990 Stanley Cup
- 89 Days Until the Season Beings — Mike Comrie
- 88 Days Until The Season Begins – Brandon Davidson
- 87 Days Until The Season Begins — Rendez-vous ’87
- 86 Days Until The Season Begins — Nikita Nikitin
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