ELDERBERRY WINE

In the history of the Edmonton Oilers, we have seen some very strong minor league teams. I have decided to look at one team per decade since we have some time in mid-summer. Tomorrow I will look at the 2001-02 Hamilton Bulldogs and the 2013-14 Oklahoma City Barons.

1981-82 WICHITA WIND (BEST OF THE 80S)

  • D Charlie Huddy. 1,017 regular-season games, 183 playoff games and he hung around for all five Stanleys. You would have loved him: Rugged, smart, effective.
  • G Andy Moog. Played in 713 regular-season games, 132 more in the playoffs, and won three Stanley’s with Edmonton. A seventh-round pick in 1980, he was a fabulous goalie.
  • F Walt Poddubny. He played 468 NHL games, but only four for the Oilers. Effective, and had a few terrific offensive seasons.
  • C Marc Habscheid. He played in 345 NHL games although only three for this Wind club (all in the playoffs). I always liked him, but the team was loaded at the position.
  • D Don Jackson. He made it into 311 NHL games, won two Stanley’s and was a fearsome fellow. I always liked to see him on the ice, between Jackson and Semenko everything had a way of getting calm in a hurry.
  • D John Blum. He played 250 NHL games, only nine as an Oiler. He was a tough customer, I remember him best as a Boston Bruin.
  • C Tom Roulston. He played in 195 NHL games, and is one of the few Oilers of that era to play a bunch of playoff games (21) for the Oilers without winning a Stanley.

1992-93 CAPE BRETON OILERS (BEST OF THE 90S)

  • R Kirk Maltby. He payed in 1,072 NHL games and another 169 in the playoffs—while taking part in all four of the Detroit Red Wings modern Stanley’s. I assume you know his style, he was a very famous player.
  • C Scott Thornton. He played in 941 NHL games and 79 in the playoffs. A painful trade saw him arrive in Edmonton (Fuhr, Anderson to the Leafs) and he was a role player until being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens.
  • C Shaun Van Allen. He played 794 NHL games and another 61 in the playoffs—mostly for Ottawa. He was perceived as being a draft failure for a long time, but broke through seven years after he was chosen.
  • L Shjon Podein. He played in 699 NHL games and another 127 in the playoffs. Rugged checker was part of two famous teams, the Flyers of the mid-90s and the Avalanche a little later. Won Stanley in 2001.
  • R Steven Rice. He played 329 NHL games and two in the playoffs for the New York Rangers. This is a painful name in Oilers history—he was partial payment for Mark Messier.
  • D Francois Leroux. He played in 249 NHL games and 33 in the playoffs. I remember chatting with Rod Phillips and John Short about him as a young player. The feeling was that with his size (6.06, 247) he could be effective if he could catch you. They were right.
  • C Peter White. He played in 220 NHL games and 19 in the playoffs. White was a bit of an NHL tweener, but an outstanding AHL player.
  • R Roman Oksiuta. He played in 153 NHL games and 10 in the playoffs. If you want to know what kind of player he was, put skates on your fridge.
  • L Vladimir Vujtek. He played in 110 NHL games and was an effective junior and minor league player. He was one of the early draft picks to come over and play, Montreal traded him to Edmonton in the ill-fated Vincent Damphousse deal.

Question: Of these two teams (if you are old enough) which one would you consider the better club? I have heard a few stories about that Wichita team, and the 80-81 team too. I think it must have been a funhouse on and off the ice. If you remember the style of hockey played in those days, and check out the PIMs, it is possible to envision Slap Shot pretty much every game they played. How on earth a skill guy could have climbed out of those leagues is beyond me.

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39 Responses to "ELDERBERRY WINE"

  1. Eastern Oil says:

    Looking at the linked page, my only disappointment is that Cal Roadhouse didn’t have more PIMs.

  2. Jethro Tull says:

    My father smelled of elderberries. But then, my mother WAS a hamster.

  3. Water Fire says:

    I am not a fan of GP as a measure of success in terms of quality. I recognize measures are hard and a long career refers to a successful NHL player which is a feat.

    I think Wind represent better NHL players so I go with them.

    Tull, you are a silly English keh nigget t!!!

  4. Professor Q says:

    Anyone know the details about why exactly L. A. can’t use the Knights name?

    Even as a Londoner, I had no idea that London owns the NHL rights to “Knights”, not just the CHL rights.

  5. Klima's_Bucket says:

    Jethro Tull,

    I had a beer a while back called, “Your father smelt of elderberries.”
    I thought the name of the beer was great, but the taste proved otherwise.

  6. John Chambers says:

    I like the Wichita team, especially having recently read Gzowski’s “Game of our Lives”.

    Moog coming up at the end of the 80-81 season to stonewall the mighty Habs is a great story.

    Too many ‘spare parts’ players from bad trades on the Cape Breton squad, and nobody with the star power of Moog.

  7. Lowetide says:

    John Chambers:
    I like the Wichita team, especially having recently read Gzowski’s “Game of our Lives”.

    Moog coming up at the end of the 80-81 season to stonewall the mighty Habs is a great story.

    Too many ‘spare parts’ players from BSD trades on the Cape Breton squad, and nobody with the star power of Moog.

    This is kind of my feeling, have always regarded the Wichita team as being the best in Oilers farm history.

  8. John Chambers says:

    Lowetide: This is kind of my feeling, have always regarded the Wichita team as being the best in Oilers farm history.

    The Edmonton Roadrunners team from the 04-05 lockout was pretty stellar. Stoll, Torres, Brodziak, Salmaleinen (traded for Spacek), and Woywitka (traded for another defenseman).

  9. Jethro Tull says:

    Klima’s_Bucket:
    Jethro Tull,

    I had a beer a while back called, “Your father smelt of elderberries.”
    I thought the name of the beer was great, but the taste proved otherwise.

    Yes, some of the craft beers have better names than taste.

  10. John Chambers says:

    Lowetide,

    And whatever team that had Ralph Intranuovo (sp?)

    I remember reading through the Journal stats page AHL box scores as a kid, Intranuovo coming up on the scoresheet game in and game out, but never getting a call up to the big club.

  11. alberta bound edmonton says:

    Loved the ‘”81 series against the habs. Oilers up 2 games to 0 in a best of 5. I was so sure that the Oilers could not win 3 straight against the mighty habs I announced to the staff room that I would give 10 to 1 odds that the Oilers would lose. Stupid stupid. 3rd period gretz feeds a perfect pass to Kurri in all alone and game over. Lesson learned: never discount the Oilers and never never offer 10 to 1 odds.

  12. Kiltymcbagpipes says:

    Professor Q:
    Anyone know the details about why exactly L. A. can’t use the Knights name?

    Even as a Londoner, I had no idea that London owns the NHL rights to “Knights”, not just the CHL rights.

    They own the rights in Canada. So Vegas could operate in the U.S. under that name but could not in our country. That means they couldn’t sell a single jersey here or operate a business here by playing an NHL game in a Canadian arena. Weird I didn’t know that either and I also live here.

  13. LadiesloveSmid says:

    if Pulju, Nurse, Reinhart, Khaira, Slepy spend significant time in BAK this season, could be one of the better turn outs for NHL careers

    I don’t know how Puljujarvi isn’t playing on McDavid’s wing by year’s end though, to be honest

  14. Kiltymcbagpipes says:

    Btw, that Lucic is a hell of a player

  15. Lowetide says:

    alberta bound edmonton:
    Loved the ‘”81 series against the habs. Oilers up 2 games to 0 in a best of 5. I was so sure that the Oilers could not win 3 straight against the mighty habs I announced to the staff room that I would give 10 to 1 odds that the Oilers would lose. Stupid stupid. 3rd period gretz feeds a perfect pass to Kurri in all alone and game over. Lesson learned: never discount the Oilers and never never offer 10 to 1 odds.

    Awesome.

  16. Lowetide says:

    John Chambers:
    Lowetide,

    And whatever team that had Ralph Intranuovo (sp?)

    I remember reading through the Journal stats page AHL box scores as a kid, Intranuovo coming up on the scoresheet game in and game out, but never getting a call up to the big club.

    That club had Satan too, candidate for best Oilers farm team ever
    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/teams/0000141995.html

  17. John Chambers says:

    Lowetide,

    Never knew David Vyborny was an Oilets draft pick. Must’ve lost him to Columbus in the expansion draft, I guess.

  18. Lowetide says:

    John Chambers:
    Lowetide,

    Never knew David Vyborny was an Oilets draft pick. Must’ve lost him to Columbus in the expansion draft, I guess.

    Nope. CBus drafted Bert Robertsson and Minnesota took Jim Dowd. Vyborny was no longer on EDMs list and was signed as a free agent

  19. Ckerr says:

    I can’t really give an unbiased opinion to this question, because I never saw Wichita play a single game, and I watched the 92-93 CB Oilers from training camp to Calder cup champs. They were a really good team and, If i recall correctly benefited from the big Oilers missing the playoffs that year. Their calder cup run was great to watch and every player on that team seemed to step it up every series. Except one. There was a guy on that team named Bill MacDougall. He didnt have much of an NHL career, but he was on fire from game one and didnt take his foot off the gas for that playoff run. Went 26-26-52. In 16 games. Look it up. Podein played great, Van Allen was clutch that year, and Leroux beat the stuffing out of anyone who wanted a turn, but I’ll always remember Billy MacDougall getting a point almost every period.

  20. Lowetide says:

    Ckerr:
    I can’t really give an unbiased opinion to this question, because I never saw Wichita play a single game, and I watched the 92-93 CB Oilers from training camp to Calder cup champs.They were a really good team and, If i recall correctly benefited from the big Oilers missing the playoffs that year.Their calder cup run was great to watch and every player on that team seemed to step it up every series.Except one.There was a guy on that team named Bill MacDougall.He didnt have much of an NHL career, but he was on fire from game one and didnt take his foot off the gas for that playoff run.Went 26-26-52.In 16 games.Look it up.Podein played great, Van Allen was clutch that year, and Leroux beat the stuffing out of anyone who wanted a turn, but I’ll always remember Billy MacDougall getting a point almost every period.

    I remember that run by MacDougall, it was insane.

  21. JDï™ says:

    Kiltymcbagpipes: They own the rights in Canada.

    And it’s reported that it would be too expensive to acquire Canadian rights to the name.

    http://www.am980.ca/2016/08/06/expansion-franchise-looking-at-knights-name/

    I guess after dropping a half billion on the team, they don’t have enough left over to buy the Knights’ rights. Maybe they should think about Roughriders?

  22. Klima's_Bucket says:

    JDï™,

    Maybe they could just go with Las Vegas Nights.

  23. bendelson says:

    John Chambers:
    Lowetide,

    And whatever team that had Ralph Intranuovo (sp?)

    I remember reading through the Journal stats page AHL box scores as a kid, Intranuovo coming up on the scoresheet game in and game out, but never getting a call up to the big club.

    Ralph Intranuovo? Yes!
    He had a successful 20 yr hockey career playing in 6 different professional leagues (mainly in Europe).
    Always cheered for Ralph Intranuovo!!

  24. theres oil in virginia says:

    Lowetide: Nope. CBus drafted Bert Robertsson and Minnesota took Jim Dowd. Vyborny was no longer on EDMs list and was signed as a free agent

    My college buddy and now longtime friend went to high school with Jim Dowd in Brick, NJ. I figure that’s the closest connection I’ll get.

  25. Lowetide says:

    theres oil in virginia: My college buddy and now longtime friend went to high school with Jim Dowd in Brick, NJ.I figure that’s the closest connection I’ll get.

    Dowd centered my all-time favorite Oilers 4line.

  26. 99266in87 says:

    Lowetide,

    Saw him play for Humbolt Broncos of SJHL, in later ’80’s. He was quite more insane then too.

  27. Bruce McCurdy says:

    The ’82 Wichita Wind played a playoff game at the Coliseum. That was the year Oilers got knocked out early by the Kings, & there was still an appetite for playoff hockey in this town so in blew the Wind. Andy Moog was in net for them after losing his NHL job to Grant Fuhr that season, & was a huge crowd favourite in that game & many others over the years. In front of a crowd of 14,000 the Wind fell 3-1 to Indianapolis Checkers in that game & were eliminated shortly thereafter.

    That was a pretty wild bunch. Take a minute & read this account of Slapshot-style mayhem.

  28. Bruce McCurdy says:

    …and yeah, Bill MacDougall played completely out of his mind & his body too in 1993. 52 points in 16 games, put Gretzky in the shade for pete’s sake.

  29. frjohnk says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    …and yeah, Bill MacDougall played completely out of his mind & his body too in 1993. 52 points in 16 games, put Gretzky in the shade for pete’s sake.

    Just checked his hockey db stats.

    80 goals in 57 games in the ECHL and
    10 goals in 11 games in the AHL all in the same year.

    It was probably his poor skat….
    *remembers this is a stats blog*
    corsi, I meant to say corsi, that held him back.

  30. Lowetide says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    The ’82 Wichita Wind played a playoff game at the Coliseum. That was the year Oilers got knocked out early by the Kings, & there was still an appetite for playoff hockey in this town so in blew the Wind. Andy Moog was in net for them after losing his NHL job to Grant Fuhr that season, & was a huge crowd favourite in that game & many others over the years. In front of a crowd of 14,000 the Wind fell 3-1 to Indianapolis Checkers in that game & were eliminated shortly thereafter.

    That was a pretty wild bunch. Take a minute & read this account ofSlapshot-style mayhem.

    Ken Berry. Heh.

  31. semi legendary rot lobster says:

    bawitdubas

  32. J-Bo says:

    Klima’s_Bucket:
    JDï™,

    Maybe they could just go with Las Vegas Nights.

    Las Vegas Nights!! Awesome. Seriously. Way better and just imagine the jerseys… the options for the logo would be sweet! How do you propose this idea to them formally??!!

  33. Caribbeerman says:

    While at University in Halifax I saw every player listed on the Cape Breton Oilers play live. Maltby was an instant success with his speed and toughness, Oksiuta was slow (and had bad teeth) but could score from the slot and Van Allen could pass (but was also slow). There were others – Dan Currie looked good for a few seasons, Bill McDougal was good for a half season and magical for one playoff, Craig Fisher was OK one season then terrible the next. Norm Foster was the best defenceman, I thought Rice would make it…physical. Very much a mixed bag with little to show for it with the big club.

  34. Lowetide says:

    Caribbeerman:
    While at University in Halifax I saw every player listed on the Cape Breton Oilers play live. Maltby was an instant success with his speed and toughness, Oksiuta was slow (and had bad teeth) but could score from the slot and Van Allen could pass (but was also slow). There were others – Dan Currie looked good for a few seasons, Bill McDougal was good for a half season and magical for one playoff, Craig Fisher was OK one season then terrible the next. Norm Foster was the best defenceman, I thought Rice would make it…physical. Very much a mixed bag with little to show for it with the big club.

    Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing it. Agree on the payoff for the big team, feel as though the Wichita team gave Edmonton two impact players (so consider it the better team).

  35. Caribbeerman says:

    Lowetide,

    Sorry Foster was the goalie…was thinking about Norm McIver…He was a good D!

  36. Jethro Tull says:

    Jethro Tull:
    My father smelled of elderberries.But then, my mother WAS a hamster.

    Klima’s_Bucket:
    JDï™,

    Maybe they could just go with Las Vegas Nights.

    My choice would be the Las Vegas Ker-niggits.

  37. maudite says:

    I agree. I had actually started to build a weighted matrix that factored in draft position, games played and subsets of player grades (top lime forward, top pairing d, etc).

    Never managed to finish it but I should dig it back up and try now that I’m underemployed. Just always wanted a more accurate format to measure success of every team by. Concept is not hard only real subjective part is tweaking weight ratios and going through each draft class and manually grading players caliber.

    Water Fire:
    I am not a fan of GP as a measure of success in terms of quality. I recognize measures are hard and a long career refers to a successful NHL player which is a feat.

    I think Wind represent better NHL players so I go with them.

    Tull, you are a silly English keh nigget t!!!

  38. maudite says:

    When I get back home I’ll dust it off and try to finish it.

    Lt, if I build it can I ship it over to you to toy with?

  39. Lowetide says:

    maudite:
    When I get back home I’ll dust it off and try to finish it.

    Lt, if I build it can I ship it over to you to toy with?

    You bet! I will tell you that others have tried, and the relationship between GP and success jives with other attempts (same results). That said, weighting quality is a grand idea and I would love to see your results.

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