On this day in 1991, the Edmonton Oilers trade Steve Smith to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Dave Manson

Aleena Aksenchuk
7 months ago
On this day in 1991, the Edmonton Oilers would trade seven-year veteran Steve Smith to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Dave Manson and a third-round draft pick in 1992 (Kirk Maltby).
It may be on this day that Smith was shipped to the Blackhawks, but there’s one thing the defenceman did during his time in the City of Champions that makes him stand out when people hear his name: the night Smith lit the lamp on his own net.
Let’s go back in time and look at probably one of the most memorable moments in franchise history.
It’s 1986, the temperature is just above zero degrees, and you’re gearing up and heading to Northlands Coliseum. You’ve got your blue and orange jersey on, ready to watch the Oilers take on game seven against your provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames. It’s no big deal, though, because this will be the third playoff matchup between the two rivals; in the previous two, Edmonton has come out on top.
You head into the arena with your $25 playoff ticket, and the place is buzzin’. Everyone is excited to see the defending Stanley Cup Champions again play for their title. It’s round two, beers are in the ballpark of $2.70, and you grab two. I mean, why not? It’s an Oilers playoff game. You take your seats, and the fun begins.
It’s the first period. Number 31 Grant Fuhr is between the pipes for the Oilers, and number 29 Mike Vernon is in net for the Flames. Both teams have battled hard all series, but you have a feeling tonight will be another battle of Alberta with Edmonton coming out on top. After all, the boys looked confident. It’s a back-and-forth game, but Calgary gets on the scoreboard first when Hakan Loob scored a surprising short-handed goal 15 minutes in.
Edmonton is down one going into the second, and you’re thinking, “Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, come on, boys!” You have a $2.25 hotdog in your hand when you throw your head back, groaning when Jim Peplinski gets another one past Fuhr just two minutes in.
It’s halfway through the second, with lots of game left to be played. Krushelnyski passes to Gretzky, Gretzky to Glenn Anderson. HE SCORES, the Oilers are on the board!
Messier puts one more past Vernon at the end of the second, making it a tie game. The Oilers are back in the race, and Northlands is absolutely buzzing with energy.
Entering the third the score is even at two, the energy is high, and the Oilers have the momentum for this period. Both teams are ready to go to war. It’s five minutes in, and Fuhr goes behind the net to stop the puck for Smith. He grabs the puck and looks for a breakout pass up the ice, but unfortunately the pass comes a little too quick as Fuhr’s returning to the net and strikes him in the back of the leg. It goes into the net. The Flames are now in the lead and credit for the goal went to the last player to touch the puck, Perry Berezan. Steve Smith had just scored on his own net.
There are still 15 minutes left to play. Between an injury to referee Bryan Lewis causing a long delay and Smith’s own goal, the Oilers fell short to the Flames in game seven, losing 3-2.
To make matters worse for the rookie, this fluke happened to be on his 23rd birthday, not the gift he had hoped for.
Although Smith’s first official season ended less than ideal, the rookie still managed four goals for 28 points that year. He would stay with Edmonton for six more years earning himself three Stanley Cups during his stay. Originally selected in the sixth round, 111th overall in the 1981 draft, the Glasgow-born defenceman would play 385 games with the Oilers, earning himself 46 goals and 218 points. He would also acquire the best plus/minus by a defenceman in 1990 at +15 and participate in the NHL All-Star game in 1991.
Alas, Smith would be traded to Chicago, and Dave Manson would begin writing his story with the Oilers in his place.

Steve Smith traded to Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Journal 1991

Manson, also a defender, was the 11th overall pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1985, would quickly rise up the defensive ranks for the Oilers. With the coaching staff eager for his ability to play to the point on power plays, Manson would have a quiet start but finally find his pace in his ninth game in orange in blue, contributing to three goals in a single period.
Eventually, in the 1992-1993 season, wearing number 24 for Edmonton, Manson would receive an alternate captain position. He would play 219 games scoring 33 goals and 108 points. The 27-year-old would eventually leave Edmonton and head to Winnipeg on March 15, 1994, alongside a sixth-round draft pick in that year’s draft. In return, the Oilers would receive a first and fourth-round pick for that year (Jason Bonsignore and Adam Copeland), as well as Mats Lindgren and Boris Mironov.
Manson’s story wouldn’t end there with Edmonton. After retiring in 2002, he would return in 2022 as the Oilers’ assistant coach, a long-awaited, exciting return still waiting patiently for a Stanley Cup ring.

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