The Call to the Hall
Photo credit:BRUCE EDWARDS/Edmonton Journal archives
2 months ago
So, it’ll be Doug Weight and Charlie Huddy joining Ryan Smyth and Lee Fogolin as the next additions to the Edmonton Oilers Hall of Fame when their names go up on the ring of honor in a ceremony at Rogers Place on Oct. 26.
These were both relatively easy calls by the 11-member selection committee given the storied history of the franchise. What I like about these latest inductions, as was the case a year ago, is they not only recognize both the glory days of the Oilers when the team was parading up and down Jasper Ave. with the Stanley Cup but an era when many terrific players followed.
You’ve got Fogolin, a veteran presence in a dressing room loaded with brash, young talent who sipped from two Stanley Cups with the Oilers. Now there’s Huddy, the strong, silent type who stayed home and allowed partner Paul Coffey to lift the Oilers faithful out of their seats with his silky, smooth rushes up ice.
Post-glory days, you add Smyth, a rink rat willing to pay any price in blood, sweat and tears to win. No. 94 played with his ass in the crease and his heart on his sleeve. Then, there’s Weight, the captain and leader of underdog teams long on try and short on payroll and talent that gave fans everything they had. Those four players cover a lot of memorable moments.
Not only are these first four inductees more than worthy, they represent and appeal to multiple generations of fans. Fogolin was the first to wear Oilers silks, arriving from Buffalo for the Oilers first NHL season, 1979-80. Smyth was the last of the four to play in Edmonton, taking an emotional retirement lap at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.
In between Fogolin and Smyth, the Oilers won five Stanley Cups and made enough memories to last a lifetime. Huddy and Weight were an important part of that mix and now they’re in the hall and on the wall, as it should be, with many more to come.
WHITNEY LIKES THE OILERS
Count Ryan Whitney of the Spittin’ Chiclets crew, which was in the news with the Mike Babcock mess in Columbus this week, among those who like the Oilers chances of making a date with the engraver this season. In fact, Whitney, who played 139 games with the Oilers over parts of four seasons, likes his former team a lot. Asked for his take on how the 2023-24 season shapes up for the Oilers:
“Stanley Cup. Stanley Cup champions,” Whitney said without hesitation. “People may think I’m crazy. That Vegas-Edmonton second-round series was the Stanley Cup right there. This team is so driven. They have one of the greatest players ever to play hockey (Connor McDavid). Leon (Draisaitl) is a top-four player in the NHL or the world . . .
“Connor Brown is an enormous signing, right? They have so many weapons. (Stuart) Skinner had a solid year, right? (Jack) Campbell had one good month. I think Campbell is going to come back and have a good season. Maybe I’m crazy for thinking that, but that first year in Edmonton, tough. You know, the guy obviously wasn’t comfortable. He did not have the best season. He’s going to be better.
“Let’s be honest. The power play is the greatest power play to ever be in the league. You have to have these heart-breaking losses. Every Stanley Cup champion has been through a time when you feel so close and you can’t get there. It makes you even hungrier. I truly think they’re going to win the division and win the Stanley Cup.”
AND . . .
- I’m not liking this news about Mattias Ekholm missing the start of training camp with a hip flexor problem. He says it’s maintenance. Not a big deal.
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