When it comes to players who turned modest talent, the willingness to work harder than anybody else and do whatever it took into a career in the NHL, Kelly Buchberger set the bar higher than just about anybody I can think of. There is no other way to characterize Bucky, who played 1,182 regular season games in The Show, 795 of those with the Edmonton Oilers.
Buchberger, a longshot ninth-round draft day afterthought by the Oilers in 1985, played his entire career like he’d snuck into the rink and was waiting for an usher to figure out he didn’t belong there, grab him by the collar and strip the jersey off his back at any moment. Along the way, Buchberger became the ninth captain in franchise history and sipped from two Stanley Cups as a do-whatever-it-takes role player with the Oilers.
Kelly Buchberger
Right Wing
Born Dec 2 1966 — Langenburg, SASK
Height 6.02 — Weight 210 [188 cm/95 kg]
Drafted by Edmonton Oilers
Round 9 #188 overall 1985 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
S
S%
ATOI
1987-88
21
19
1
0
1
-1
81
10
10.0
1988-89
22
66
5
9
14
-14
234
57
8.8
1989-90
23
55
2
6
8
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-8
168
35
5.7
1990-91
24
64
3
1
4
-6
160
54
5.6
1991-92
25
79
20
24
44
9
157
90
22.2
1992-93
26
83
12
18
30
-27
133
92
13.0
1993-94
27
84
3
18
21
-20
199
93
3.2
1994-95
28
48
7
17
24
0
82
73
9.6
1995-96
29
82
11
14
25
-20
184
119
9.2
1996-97
30
81
8
30
38
4
159
78
10.3
1997-98
31
82
6
17
23
-10
122
86
7.0
1998-99
32
52
4
4
8
-6
68
29
13.8
11:49
1999-00
33
TOT
81
7
13
20
-36
152
76
9.2
16:05
1999-00
33
68
5
12
17
-34
139
56
8.9
16:21
1999-00
33
13
2
1
3
-2
13
20
10.0
14:43
2000-01
34
82
6
14
20
-10
75
66
9.1
14:26
2001-02
35
74
6
7
13
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-13
105
39
15.4
10:21
2002-03
36
79
3
9
12
0
109
32
9.4
9:59
2003-04
37
71
1
3
4
-19
109
34
2.9
10:21
12 yrs
EDM
795
82
158
240
-99
1747
816
10.0
11:49
3 yrs
LAK
169
14
22
36
-25
193
125
11.2
12:40
1 yr
PHX
79
3
9
12
0
109
32
9.4
9:59
1 yr
PIT
71
1
3
4
-19
109
34
2.9
10:21
1 yr
ATL
68
5
12
17
-34
139
56
8.9
16:21
Career
1182
105
204
309
-177
2297
1063
9.9
12:17
PLAYOFFS
Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
S%
ATOI
1986-87
20
3
0
1
1
0
5
0.0
1989-90
23
19
0
5
5
2
13
0.0
1990-91
24
12
2
1
3
-3
25
16.7
1991-92
25
16
1
4
5
2
32
8.3
1996-97
30
12
5
2
7
-1
16
26.3
1997-98
31
12
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1
2
3
0
25
7.7
1998-99
32
4
0
0
0
-4
0
0.0
10:06
1999-00
33
4
0
0
0
-1
4
0.0
8:56
2000-01
34
8
1
0
1
-1
2
20.0
9:58
2001-02
35
7
0
0
0
-3
7
0.0
8:48
Career
97
10
15
25
-9
129
12.2
9:27

NOTABLE

When I think of bust-ass guys who accomplished more with less as members of the Oilers, I think of Buchberger and Jason Smith, who also wore the captain’s C here. They’d do whatever it took to win because they had no other choice. While Buchberger was a NHL caliber skater — his ability to skate bought him more time than your garden variety grinder gets — it was his work ethic and dogged determination to compete that is his story.
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If that meant taking an ass-kicking from Bob Probert, Buchberger was willing to do it. If it took dropping the gloves with Dave Brown, well, let’s get after it, big boy. Overmatched? No big deal. During his days as an Oiler, his entire career, for that matter, Buchberger was never afraid to pay the price, to shed sweat and blood to get the job done. As a member of the Kings, he got KO’d by Anson Carter, of all people.
Then, there was the night here in Edmonton, as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, when Buchberger wanted to tangle with Georges Laraque. It was probably my imagination, but it seemed like almost everybody in the building, including those in the press box, shouted, “No, Bucky, don’t,” in unison. Whether it was playing a bit part behind Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier or assuming a leadership role after the Boys on the Bus were sold off piece by piece, Buchberger played the game the same way.
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THE STORY

“It just shows you what heart, determination and unselfish play can do for a career in terms of longevity,” former teammate and long-time friend Craig MacTavish said of Buchberger. “He’s surpassed everybody’s expectations in terms of what he’s got out of himself. That’s his story.
“The thing that stands out when I think of Bucky and his career is regardless of his accomplishments, the Stanley Cups, he viewed his contribution based on what he did on a nightly basis. He wanted to justify his position in the lineup every game, and it’s that type of work ethic and mental toughness that has distinguished him in his career.”
While Buchberger made other stops in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Pittsburgh when his playing days here were done, he returned to Edmonton as coach of the AHL Road Runners and served as an assistant coach with the Oilers with a carousel of head coaches. He remains a part of the organization in hockey-ops today. While some younger fans might remember Buchberger only as a coach, and one who seemingly had nine lives here during some difficult days, he was much more than that. Glue guy. Cup champ. Winner.
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This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.
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