31.5.87

I remember the 1987 Stanley Cup final very well, mostly because the Oilers were in a G7 and the thought of losing was unbearable, impossible to imagine. My fears were confirmed in 2006, when the Oilers lost a game 7 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Pre-Game

871

872

I remember being pretty frustrated that series–this was the season after the 1986 debacle–and the Oilers couldn’t cash on the many, many chances. I thought they’d done well at the deadline (Edmonton added Kent Nilsson for Stu Kulak, although it was reported as a draft choice, and  the records at hockey-reference now say cash–with Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote about Nilsson being the ‘purest, most talented NHL player’ a ringing endorsement; Reijo Ruotsalainen, who was acquired in October 1986 but didn’t arrive in Edmonton until late March; Moe Lemay, a role player who had certainly done enough against the Oilers to be worthy of acquisition) and was looking forward to a long playoff run.

The Oilers won Stanley in 1984 and 1985, but you have to remember that 1986 shook the organization and the fanbase that morning was busy creating all kinds of doomsday scenarios. Seems ridiculous now, but believe me when I say every red-blooded Oiler fan at least thought a G7 loss to Hextall, Howe and Propp.

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27 Responses to "31.5.87"

  1. Radman says:

    Hey LT. Curious if you think the idea of Tippett coaching The OIl and Ralph accepting a return to associate coach has any legs. Not sure about the latter especially. Seems the MacT makeover will include the coaching staff on some level. Was thinking more along the lines of adding an (ex-Oiler) assistant.

  2. cc says:

    I remember this series. It was the first time I really became a fan of the Oilers. Hextall was amazing during the playoffs. I was always a fan of Hextall, and remember the Chelios’s incident a couple of years later when he nearly took his head, because of Chelios taking out Propp earlier. If the Flyers won that series, I could possibly been a Flyers fan.

    One trade scenario I was thinking about is what if the Oilers trade Belanger (1.75 cap hit) to another team that needs to shed a bigger salary. Havlat (5), Pitkanen (4.5), I’d say Heatley (7.5 cap hit 5 million salary) but I doubt anyone would want him here. Although the Oilers faithful have forgiven Comrie. All those contracts would essentially be just over 3 million dollars for the Oilers but with higher cap hits. Just thinking outside the box.

    Or perhaps they could try and acquire a guy like Meszaros, Philly is up against the cap right now. He had shoulder surgery so he fits in with the Oilers. If they could get a guy like Meszaros and trade for another guy like Klesla. Is that a decent enough defense?
    Smid-Petry
    Meszaros-J. Schultz
    Klesla-N.Schultz
    Potter
    Klefbom, Fedun, Marincin – Callups

  3. Lowetide says:

    Radman:
    Hey LT. Curious if you think the idea of Tippett coaching The OIl and Ralph accepting a return to associate coach has any legs. Not sure about the latter especially. Seems the MacT makeover will include the coaching staff on some level. Was thinking more along the lines of adding an (ex-Oiler) assistant.

    I suspect the Oilers will go with Krueger, while adding someone who can help (maybe a Mark Lamb) and is known to the organization.

  4. Rondo says:

    Interesting new rankings from ISS

    http://www.isshockey.com/iss-top-30/

  5. Radman says:

    Lowetide: I suspect the Oilers will go with Krueger, while adding someone who can help (maybe a Mark Lamb) and is known to the organization.

    Agree. Tippett discussion is intriguing. Would like to first give Ralph the time (and roster) to suceed. He hasn’t even had a training camp.

  6. cc says:

    Lowetide: I suspect the Oilers will go with Krueger, while adding someone who can help (maybe a Mark Lamb) and is known to the organization.

    I will say Marc Habscheid (familar with MacTavish). I would really like if they hired someone to replace Buchburger a guy like Habscheib or Lamb. Then go out and get a guy with lots of NHL experience or head coaching experience, to run the 5×5 play – a guy like J. Martin, Torchetti, Arniel (familar with Howson), ect … Bucky’s had too many chances, the bottom six on this team is in no better shape than it was when the rebuild started. They have flushed way to many players and brought in too many players that have been at best “non-factors”. There’s only so many times you can point the finger at the players.

  7. Rondo says:

    Radman,

    I agree would not be fair to Ralph , Oilers would have a bad name around the league among coaches if they fired /demoted Krueger.

    That said I do think Tippett or AV would be superior coaches.

  8. supernova says:

    cc:
    I remember this series.It was the first time I really became a fan of the Oilers.Hextall was amazing during the playoffs.I was always a fan of Hextall, and remember the Chelios’s incident a couple of years later when he nearly took his head, because of Chelios taking out Propp earlier.If the Flyers won that series, I could possibly been a Flyers fan.

    One trade scenario I was thinking about is what if the Oilers trade Belanger (1.75 cap hit) to another team that needs to shed a bigger salary.Havlat (5), Pitkanen (4.5), I’d say Heatley (7.5 cap hit 5 million salary) but I doubt anyone would want him here.Although the Oilers faithful have forgiven Comrie.All those contracts would essentially be just over 3 million dollars for the Oilers but with higher cap hits.Just thinking outside the box.

    Or perhaps they could try and acquire a guy like Meszaros, Philly is up against the cap right now.He had shoulder surgery so he fits in with the Oilers.If they could get a guy like Meszaros and trade for another guy like Klesla.Is that a decent enough defense?
    Smid-Petry
    Meszaros-J. Schultz
    Klesla-N.Schultz
    Potter
    Klefbom, Fedun, Marincin – Callups

    i was thinking along these lines as well.

    but thinking that Eric Johnson and Alex Goligski would be good targets.

    not as much from the cap side but guys that could use a change.

  9. fuzzy muppet says:

    All the talk about trading down and picking up picks terrifies me. The organization simply doesn’t get it. Then compound it with the fact that they (speculation) want to package picks to move back up in round 1 is insane. In a very deep draft You don’t trade back into round 1 when the guy at 50 may be as good as the guy at 25. it’s stupid

    So i fully expect them to do it.

  10. Bar_Qu says:

    Rondo,

    Lazar at 12.

    If the Oil traded down (which I am fully against) to get two picks in the 1st round, with one in the top 15, then they could justify it as getting their cake and eating it too. With both Horvat and Lazar doing so well, and guys like Pulock or others hanging around later than they should, the Oil could reasonably get a couple of impact guys out of one 1st round pick.

    IF Monahan is gone at 7 and the opportunity exists for that kind of deal, it is at least defensible. But my preference is that they pick at 7.

  11. godot10 says:

    The good thing about that ISS is the some defensemen (Nurse, Zadorov) are moving up the rankings which pushes the usual-suspect centres down the rankings a bit. Horvat and Lazar rising. Santini rose a lot. McCarron rising into the first round…dammit.

    The Oilers should be able to get one of Lindholm, Monahan, or Horvat.

  12. Rondo says:

    Lowetide: I suspect the Oilers will go with Krueger, while adding someone who can help (maybe a Mark Lamb) and is known to the organization.

    That would be a steal if Oilers could pull that off.

  13. vishcosity says:

    Everyone has their price, and so should the Oilers. Trading down is fine when the price is right, if they land well over Eric T.’s 20% buffer, then I say giver. Top 10 picks are hardly the solution to the Oiler’s problems now, or the future salary cap issues with 2/5 crown jewels signed long term.

    Given this years draft projections AND this year’s salary cap anomaly, it may be the perfect storm to trade this pick for impact players who already are NHL savvy. Or, if they can trade 7 for 13 and 16, its kind of a no brainer should Lazar and Horvat both be available.

    Can’t be reasonably against anything until the return is known, including trading that pick.

  14. Woodguy says:

    If the Oilers get a new coach, I would like to see them let the coach name his own assistants.

    I have no idea as to the ability of Buchberger and Smith as assistants, but the thought of not letting a HC hire his own assistants just smacks of paternalism and executives who want to wield too much control.

  15. Jordan says:

    Bar_Qu,

    I agree with you about picking at 7.

    I really like Monahan, but either of Horvat or Lazar coudl be just as good. They don’t look it now, but… how much of that is just they years they had (injuries, luck, etc?).

    Recent drafts have told us that the high-end picks disappear in the top 10, the good bets in the top 50, and after that it’s all voodoo.

    The question that really sticks in my mind is how does the top end of this draft actually compare to the top end of the last 5 drafts? Is it actually deeper? is it just that there isn’t as steep a drop after the top 5? Is that because the high end isn’t as high end, or the good bets are actually better bets this year?

    If you could make some trades and manage to get picks 10 & 20, and pick up Lazar and Mantha, would that look better than getting Monahan and Mirco Mueller?

    As soon as that first pick is selected, everything is a moving target. No one really knows who’s going where – there’s just each team’s list and where people think someone should go, and where they do.

    That’s a part of why I’m wondering about there being some interesting story lines this year with the draft:

    – How does the perceived need for size affect draft stock?
    – How much does perceived team need affect team’s trading their picks up or down?
    – Does the perceived increase in higher end talent depth make trading down more likely? More valuable?
    – How does this draft compare (GP/G/A/P/PPG) to each of the last 5 drafts?
    – Are there trends in drafting, either in player types being overlooked, or overhyped (McIllrath? Plante? Teubert?)
    – Of the hyped defensemen this year, will any turn out to be cornerstone players?
    – How big of a hit does small skill take in draft stock this year?

    If anyone has the time or inclination to answer my questions, or direct me to others who are already doing so, please let me know!

  16. Rocknrolla says:

    Rondo:
    Interesting new rankings from ISS

    http://www.isshockey.com/iss-top-30/

    INTERESTING LIST

    Monahan drops, Lazar rises…Russians all rise.

  17. Melman says:

    One big thing about the article LT is the DATE of G7 of the Cup final. The league should work backwards from May 31 as the last possible date for a game. Unless your team is in it, NOBODY wants to still be watching hockey in June. But since that is an idea that makes sense and I’m talking about the NHL league office…..

  18. gcw_rocks says:

    Lindholm at 7 would be sweeeet! Monahan would be a good second choice.

  19. Gerta Rauss says:

    Melman,

    Agree 100%-the season is way too long, and I-and most of the rest of Canada- have better things to do in June than watch 2 American teams compete for the Stanley Cup.

    A 72 game season is more than enough to determine playoff seedings, it’ll give the league breathing room in the Olympic year, it will allow players to join their respective World Championship teams, and it will give players a longer recovery time from injuries.

    A shorter season was #1 on my wish list for the last 2 lockouts.

  20. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Rondo:
    Interesting new rankings from ISS

    http://www.isshockey.com/iss-top-30/

    These ranking lend a lot of hope to those hoping one of the big D slips into the top 6.

  21. LoDog says:

    Gerta Rauss,

    72 games would make so much sense, so obviously it will never happen.

  22. Lois Lowe says:

    Looking back at the loss in 2006, I mostly remember the plucky Oilers coming back from 3-1 down in the series, without their starting goaltender. The only really strong recollection of game 7 left is that the Oilers were never really in the game. I don’t think it was tied for more than ten minutes, and I don’t ever remember feeling like a comeback coming. They were just so flat.

    That entire run was such a gift for fans of my generation who don’t remember the glory years. The SCF was the first game 7 where I felt that the Oilers had more than a puncher’s chance at winning, but that night they played like Oilers I grew up with.

  23. commonfan14 says:

    Lois Lowe,

    Pisani was doing everything he could to win the Conn Smyth, but wasn’t quite able to cash in any of his chances. He was about the only one really trying to win the game.

    The empty net play coming out of a timeout at the end was beyond terrible. Ended up in our net almost immediately even though they won the faceoff.

  24. "Steve Smith" says:

    1987 game seven is my first memory of the Oilers (although I can tell you that my having no recollection of 1986 didn’t prevent me from being taunted about it for most of my youth). My parents had some people over to watch the game, which is the only time I can remember that happening (my father’s a casual hockey fan, and my mother’s less than that). I didn’t really understand what the adults were excited about – two teams were playing, one of them was going to win the Stanley Cup, and it didn’t seem particularly exceptional that it should turn out to be the Oilers. Later, of course, I came to appreciate what a magnificent team that had been, and what a fabulous narrative it prevented Ron Hextall from writing (although it’s not like it left him short of good stories to star in).

    In contrast, my memory of 2006 game 7 was damning the fact that I had stupidly booked a trip to Europe for that time (missed game 6 too, if you can believe it), and, more specifically, booked an overnight train from Munich to Ljubljana for the time of that game. I phoned my mother first thing on arrival, and she didn’t even immediately appreciate why (thought it was to say hello, confirm my safe arrival, etc.) Part of me was even a little bit glad of the defeat, because how do you suppose it feels to miss the Oilers winning what may well be their only Cup of your adult life? A very small part, mind you.

  25. delooper says:

    My family moved to Edmonton the same year as the Oilers so I watched them from the beginning. I think my favourite goal is the Klima 1990 series goal against Boston. It’s not the greatest to watch, but the story during the game was just lovely.

  26. Lowetide says:

    My favorite goal is the Gretzky over the shoulder Vernon, but I want it to be the Messier inside out Islander. Messier’s my favorite Oiler, but I’ll never figure out how 99 got that puck past Vernon. It must have dipped.

  27. Melman says:

    Lowetide,

    I was talking with a guy a few years ago about that goal. He was at the game and (he says) as soon as Gretzky crossed the blue line, and before he shot, the 2 Calgary fans in front of him stood up and started putting on their jackets. Great story if it’s true.

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