Hand’s Across the Water

This is Tony Hand. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1986. He was born in 1967, and the earliest numbers I can find for him are as a member of the Murrayfield Racers of the BHL in 81-82. I believe it was the Elite League in Britian at that time (I stand to be corrected on this, please jump in if you know).

He was 14 years old.

Hand was really good, not just for Britian but really actually good in a “holy crap, he’s really good” kind of way. Hand was drafted by the Oilers in 1986, and had a terrific camp. He became sort of a celebrity, I remember very well Rod Phillips calling pre-season games and raving about him. Legend has it he was offered a contract but was homesick so went back to Britian.

Where he beat the living daylights out of the competition. In 86-87, Tony Hand scored 19 shorthanded goals and had 22 hat-tricks during the regular season. His stats for that year? 35gp, 105-111-216, which are even more impressive when one realizes those numbers were good enough to lead the league.

Among his feats:

  1. 1st British trained player in NHL draft
  2. Young Player of the Year (Nov 85)
  3. Scottish National League Champion (85-86 Edinburgh Racers)
  4. British Premier League Champion (86-87 Murrayfield Racers, 87-88 Murrayfield Racers)
  5. Best forward (WC D 1990, WC C 1992)
  6. Named to All-British All-Star team (1990-91)
  7. FBNL points scorer (01-02,02-03 Dundee Stars 03-04 Edinburgh Capitals)
  8. All Star Team (90-91,91-92,01-02,03-04,04-05)
  9. Powerplay Player of the Month (Oct 03)
  10. FBNL Most League Assists (03-04 Edinburgh Capitals)
  11. FBNL Most Assists Playoffs (03-04 Edinburgh Capitals)
  12. British Ice Hockey Writer’s Association Player of the Year (03-04, 04-05)
  13. Scored his 1000th point, Feb.18, 1989 at Whitley Bay
  14. Had one 8 goal game, three 9 assist games and one 14 point game (Mar.19, 1988)

I’d like to tell you that his playing career ended in a grand display of love from the British people, but I cannot tell a lie.

Bastard’s still playing.

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11 Responses to "Hand’s Across the Water"

  1. Lord Bob says:

    Years ago, I first heard about Tony Hand in some awful Oilers coffee table book or another. I can’t remember which; they were all pretty well the same anyway. But I remember wondering how well those bat-raving insane scoring totals would have translated to the NHL.

    Assuming Hand would have ended up as a better player because of the competition, I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t have made it in some role. I just find it impossible. I know the British league is terrible, but his career transcends logic. But at the same time, I think I like Tony Hand more because he never came over here, if that makes sense: he combines a beautiful small-town loyalty with the glory of what might have been.

  2. Josh says:

    I saw Hand play two weekends ago in Basingstoke, an hour west of London. He scored the team’s first goal on a team he also coaches, the Manchester Phoenix, and spent much of the time yelling at the young players while on the ice. Great player, and showed a few Canadian ex-pats a thing or two on the ice. His team won that night, too.

  3. Black Dog says:

    Great stuff LT.

  4. dawgbone says:

    He had a very brief stint in the WHL, putting up 8 points in 3 games as well (as a 19 year old).

    It would have been interesting to see what kind of NHL career he could have had, especially with the Oilers.

    I guess it’s just one of those things that happens when you are drafting kids.

  5. garnet says:

    Interestingly, according to Hockeydb.com Hand didn’t even lead his own team in scoring during that 216-point season:


  6. Lowetide says:

    Garnet: That is interesting. My source (SIHR) has him leading that specific season, and two different sources list him as the league’s leading scorer that season.

  7. Rob... says:

    This is weird. I just finished reading an article on Hand the other day.

    Apparently he was going to come over on a tryout basis with Calgary, because he didn’t understand the draft system. He then found out he was Oiler property and came in to Edmonton. He came over with one stick to his first training camp. But made such an impression that he Sather was ready to offer him a deal. But like you said LT homesickness combined was what did him in. However, ther was another factor that Tony said contributed to his decsion to go home, Sather offered such a piss poor contract that he said he couldn’t have lived on it. He was getting a much better salary in England.

    It is interesting to think what he could have done over here, but it’s something tha’t we’ll never know.

    BTW, the article I read was in the Hockey News July edition I think.

  8. mc79hockey says:

    You guys might find this interview interesting.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Good find, MC.

  10. Oiler Mag says:

    Now their is a player, Mr Lowetide. Being from Whitley Bay, and a huge Warriors fan, we had some real rumbles with the Racers during the 80′s – including a classic 13 all tie in the 87-88 season. In those days, teams were only allowed 3 imports who took at least half the ice time, but the Racers cheated by having Hand who was better than any of them! During the 87-88 the Warriors had Mike Babcock as an import and he recorded totals of 34-98-132 in 36 games, yet didn’t even finish in the top ten scorers that season. Murrayfield won the league that season, as Whitley lost 2 of the last four games, but Hand didn’t win the league scoring title – that went to a little ginger Canadian named Scott Morrison (no not the one off the TV). Now look up his career stats and be wowed!!! It was a massive thing for Hand to be drafted, it even made the national press – which hockey did much more often in the 80′s than now. He was so fast and talented – he would have made it. We hated him.

  11. Colby Cosh says:

    Hand is, so far, the only Edmonton Oilers draft pick who has earned an MBE.

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