Photo credit:Hockey Hall of Fame
On this day in 1996, Oilers trade Bill Ranford to Bruins for Bond-girl boyfriend Mariusz Czerkawski
1 month ago
On this day in 1996, the Edmonton Oilers rang in the new year with a big trade sending Bill Ranford to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Mariusz Czerkawski.
Honestly, I don’t know who made headlines more during his stay in Alberta’s Capital City, Czerkawski, or his girlfriend at the time, 007 actress Izabella Scorupco, who played Bond girl Natalya Simonoya in the 1995 film Goldeneye.
The right winger from Radomsko, Poland was the 105 overall pick in the fifth round by the Bruins. In his three years in Boston, he would play 100 games scoring 23 goals and 43 points.
He wouldn’t be a decade-long or even half-a-decade-long Oiler, as he would have a short back-to-back season visit. Coming to Alberta’s capital wouldn’t be a breeze for him either. He would suffer a 17-game scoring drought in 1997 before notching a hat-trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 19. Inconsistent as he may have been, he still managed to rise up the ranks and became one of the best offensive players for the squad.
As Szuper Mariusz began to fill the headlines with his unique playing style and ability to move the puck, talks of being traded would come just as quickly as the Oilers 1997 playoff run came to an end. Jim Matheson wrote in the Edmonton Journal:
“I started working on trading Mariusz after the playoffs when he told me he wasn’t happy with how much he’d played against Dallas and Colorado,” said [general manager Glen] Sather.“I can’t complain about my ice time but I didn’t feel I was the guy they wanted,” Czerkawski said. “They were looking for bigger sizes. I just didn’t feel they had me in their plans.”
Just like that, one of the best Polish player to step foot on NHL ice would go to Long Island just as fast as he stepped on Alberta soil. The exchange would send Czerkawski to the New York Islanders and give the Oilers winger Dan LaCouture.
The other end of the trademark deal that brought the Polish player to Edmonton in the first place was Bill Ranford. Previously, Ranford single-handedly backstopped the Oilers to their fifth Stanley Cup in 1990, and his Conn Smythe Trophy is proof of that. The late John Short wrote of the netminders success in the Edmonton Journal during that year of the playoffs:
Goalie Bill Ranford has had help from the defence, but he’s a key ingredient for the Oilers playoff success ford stopped Dale Hawerchuk on a breakaway in the final minute.In the next series, at least twice, he beat Wayne Gretzky of Los Angeles, who was in alone. Few players are more dangers one-on-one. Or ever have been.Above all others, it was clearly Ranford who sparked Edmonton to wins in three successive rounds; against Winnipeg, Los Angeles and Chicago. The sky is the limit. Only his spectacular performances here in the first two games of the final have put Edmonton close to victory.“Any organization has to win with good goaltending,” says general manager Glen Sather, who maintains the Oilers were always confident Ranford would blossom.
Good goaltending is just what the Oilers needed and wanted and they got it with Ranford, but several years down the road the team needed to clean house which sent Ranford to the Bruins.
In his decade-long tie-in with the Oilers Ranford would play 449 games with 167 of those boasting a W.
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