I have it on DVD and will probably watch it today. 30 years ago the Edmonton Oilers won their 5th Stanley. It was a delightful experience, because (unlike the other 4) it didn’t feel inevitable.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, check it out here.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We rallied and regrouped’: How the Oilers won the 1990 Stanley Cup
- New Lowetide: Why Kailer Yamamoto represents ‘Money Puck’ value for NHL teams
- New Lowetide: Exploring hidden-gem draft options for the Edmonton Oilers
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He set his place in history’: On Bill Ranford’s Conn Smythe run, 30 years later
- New Jonathan Willis: Why NHL teams should gamble on defencemen over forwards later in the draft
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ offseason decisions will be influenced by 2021 Seattle expansion draft
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Holland’s likely approach to the Oilers’ offseason goalie question
- Lowetide: Hard target search for Oilers acquisition options among NHL forwards
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland should shop for picks at the draft
- Lowetide: Exploring Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod’s possible NHL path
- Jonathan Willis: What does the path to an Oilers Stanley Cup championship in 2023 look like?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ales Hemsky on his health, alumni games, tough opponents and the Oilers’ stars
- Lowetide: Swedish export Noel Gunler offers Oilers a worthy draft target
- Scott Wheeler: Why Oilers prospect Raphael Lavoie is the shot creation king.
- Lowetide: How can Andreas Athanasiou — Ken Holland’s big bet — help the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Who are the Oilers’ top 10 prospects and where do they project in the NHL?
The first Stanley was about a young team coming together and using their talent for the greater good. Less 99 driving opponents to madness (although that happened too), and more about positioning and finishing your checks. Call it lessons learned from the Miracle on Manchester.
The third one was about really worrying. The Oilers won the Stanley, but Ron Hextall damn near stole the thing and that’s the truth. It took all seven games, and the memory of the 1986 disappointment kept creeping back into my brain like a Poe story, but Glenn Anderson ripped a shot past Ron Hextall late in the third and a joyous summer was secured.
The fourth one was a sweep over Boston. In 5 games. You could look it up.
The fifth one is the one I cherish more than any save the first one. Why? You have to remember this was not the dynasty team. Here are the names on the Stanley from 1990:
Glenn Anderson, Jeff Beukeboom, Dave Brown, Kelly Buchberger, Grant Fuhr, Martin Gelinas, Adam Graves, Randy Gregg, Charlie Huddy, Petr Klima, Jari Kurri, Mark Lamb, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Mark Messier CAPTAIN, Craig Muni, Joe Murphy, Bill Ranford, Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Craig Simpson, Geoff Smith, Steve Smith, Esa Tikkanen.
Peter Pocklington OWNER, Glen Sather PRESIDENT/GENERAL MANAGER, John Muckler COACH
Gretzky and Coffey aren’t on this team and there are many others who contributed to the dynasty that were long gone. It was an unusual run in that many of the impact players (Ranford, Simpson, in one game Klima) arrived after the first Stanley.
My most vivid memory of 1990 isn’t even part of the finals. It was Mark Messier’s performance in Chicago earlier in the playoffs (he was other worldly on this day, exactly as I’d read Rocket Richard was another glorious time in hockey history–wild eyed, the other side of crazy and possibly not thinking clearly) that sealed the season. From Legends of Hockey:
In the playoffs, with the Oilers down 2-1 in games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the semifinals, Messier took over in the fourth game, scoring two goals and collecting two assists in Edmonton’s 4-2 road win. His one-man display impressed everyone who watched, Chicago players, coaches and fans included, and his all-time performance spurred the Oilers. Edmonton swept the remaining games from Chicago and easily handled Bourque and the Bruins in the finals to give Messier his fifth Stanley Cup ring with Edmonton.
Mike Keenan (Chicago’s coach) said he knew the Blackhawks were up the creek when he saw Messier’s face in the pre-game skate. A lot happened between the 1988 victory and 1990:
August 9, 1988: After the Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky, John Muckler (who would win the 1990 Stanley as head coach) said “thank God I believe in life after death.”
The Oilers point totals dropped from 99 in 1987-88 to 84 in 1988-89. The Oilers entered the 89-90 season well outside the NHL’s elite teams.
Major playoff disappointments spring 1989 included Jimmy Carson, Esa Tikkanen, Craig Simpson and Glenn Anderson. Jimmy Carson requested a trade, or he would play out his option and sign as a free agent summer 1990. Esa Tikkanen and his agent (Rich Winter) were rumbling about heading out of town.
Grant Fuhr retired on June 8, saying he would sell cars in Wetaskiwin and citing Sather’s lack of respect for him as a leading cause for the retirement. (Don’t blame Fuhr, it was about salary and the Oilers were badly underpaying him).
Edmonton had a veteran group and they had a terrific goalie tandem (Fuhr and Ranford). Ranford would win the Smythe after starting the playoffs very badly.
And they won. The Boys On The Bus were still the heart of the team, but a major part of the 1990 story comes from names like Ranford, Simpson, Gelinas, Murphy, Reijo Ruotsalainen. Lordy Reijo Ruotsalainen. His playoff totals spring 1990? 22gp, 2-11-13 +13.
I’ll never forget spring 1990.
SCORING, 1990 FINALS
- Craig Simpson 5, 4-4-8
- Jari Kurri 5, 3-5-8
- Glenn Anderson 5, 3-4-7
- Esa Tikkann 5, 3-2-5
- Mark Messier 5, 0-5-5
- Joe Murphy 5, 2-2-4
- Steve Smith 5, 1-2-3
- Mark Lamb 5, 0-3-3
- Adam Graves 5, 2-0-2
- Craig MacTavish 5, 0-2-2
- Reijo Ruotsalainen 5, 0-2-2
- Petr Klima 5, 1-0-1
- Martin Gelinas 5, 0-1-1
- Randy Gregg 5, 0-1-1
- Kevin Lowe 5, 0-0-0
- Craig Muni 5, 0-0-0
- Kelly Buchberger 5, 0-0-0
- Charlie Huddy 5, 0-0-0
- Bill Ranford 5, 1.35 .949
One of the teams Edmonton may want to do business with in attempts to gather draft picks is the Ottawa Senators. Now that we have confirmation that the league will use winning percentage for the standings, we can safely project the Senators draft picks. Before the lottery, they are: Nos. 2, 3, 21, 33, 48, 52, 55, 64, 74, 95, 151, 158, 184. If the Oilers are shopping Jesse Puljujarvi and Ottawa is interested, perhaps one of these picks will land in Edmonton before draft day.
By the way, Edmonton’s picks are Nos. 20, 82, 144, 175, 206. That pick at No. 82 is the Neal pick so there are no guarantees the NHL will make a decision favoring Edmonton. Assume the worst and you’ll never be disappointed. One player who doesn’t get mentioned much in regard to a Jesse Puljujarvi trade is Dominik Bokk. He has been playing in the SHL for the past two seasons, with NHLE’s of 23.9 and 18.5. Most interesting is his even strength scoring:
- 2018-19: 47 games, 2-11-13 in 10:26 per game (1.59)
- 2019-20: 45 games, 8-4-12 in 11:07 per game (1.44)
Bokk is a fast player and turned 20 in February. The time is right to bring him over. The problem for Ken Holland involves comparing Bokk’s production with that of Puljujarvi in the Liiga. This is even strength:
- 2019-20: 56 games, 16-22-38 in 15:16 per game (2.67)
The SHL is a better league than the Liiga, but NHLE awards Puljujarvi 35.1 compared to Bokk’s much lower totals. Here are some other prospects and their even-strength totals:
- Lias Andersson 2019-20 SHL: 15, 3-4-7 in 12:40 per game (2.21)
- Casey Mittelstadt 2019-20 NHL: 31, 3-4-7 in 10:58 per game (1.23)
LOWETIDE FINAL LIST
On June 1 I’ll have the final 2020 list for you, it’s trending toward 125 in total. There is movement on the final list, very difficult to project European kids. I expect we’ll see some major draft steals in rounds two and three.