About the Edmonton Oilers

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    WHA years

    • The Edmonton Oilers came into being in November of 1971, when they were one of a dozen teams to comprise the upstart World Hockey Association. The Oilers' owner, Bill Hunter, had wanted an NHL franchise, but when this didn't occur he became a founding member of the new league. Early on, the Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers, only to change back to Edmonton in 1972. The team changed hands in 1978 and the new owner, Peter Pocklington, made a dramatic acquisition when he traded with the Indianapolis Racers franchise for up-and-coming superstar Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky scored 42 goals at the age of 18 for Edmonton in the 1978-79 season. After the 1979 season, the NHL absorbed Edmonton, Hartford, Quebec and Winnipeg into the league as the WHA dissolved. While in the WHA, Edmonton never won a title.

    Dynasty years

    • In only their fourth season in the NHL, the Oilers found themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Islanders. Although the team was beaten in four straight games, a foundation was in place that would carry the team to elite status and make them one of the greatest clubs the league ever saw. The Oilers would win the Cup in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990. Coached by Glen Sather for the majority of this run and then John Muckler for the 1990 title, Edmonton boasted a high-powered offense with goal scorers such as Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glen Anderson and Paul Coffey. Goaltender Grant Fuhr was excellent in goal and Edmonton's offense could not be equaled. In 1983-84 the team scored 446 goals--the record for the most goals ever by one team. The Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers (twice) and the Boston Bruins twice fell to Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Finals during this period.


    • Wayne Gretzky

      Wayne Gretzky holds nearly every major scoring record in the NHL as of 2009. Gretzky's 894 goals are the most all-time, along with his 1,963 assists and his 2,857 total points. His 1.92 points per game is the most in league history and he was voted to the NHL All-Star team 18 times. Gretzky scored more than 200 points in a season four times, and his 215 in 1985-86 at the age of 25 is the record for the NHL. Gretzky was traded away to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9th, 1988 for $15 million, three number one draft picks and two young players. Cash-strapped Pocklington was heavily criticized for making the deal, but Edmonton did manage to win one of its titles without Gretzky. Gretzky's number 99 was retired throughout the NHL; he played his last NHL game for the New York Rangers in 1999 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame that same year.


    • After the 1990 Stanley Cup title, Edmonton fell on much leaner times. Players such as Messier, Kurri, Fuhr, Anderson and Coffey were all dealt away or became free agents. Edmonton finally returned to the Finals in 2006, when they took the Carolina Hurricanes to seven games before losing the deciding contest by a 3-1 score.

    Team records

    • Gretzky's name is everywhere in the Edmonton Oiler record book, as one would expect. His 583 goals are the team mark over Kurri's 474. Gretzky has 1,086 assists for Edmonton, with Messier a distant second in this category with 642. Gretzky's 1,669 points tower over the 1,043 Kurri was able to register as a member of the Oilers. As far as goaltending records, Fuhr's 226 victories in goal far outdistances the 167 of Bill Ranford. Tommy Salo's 23 shutouts are the Oilers' standard; Curtis Joseph's 14 are the second most as an Edmonton netminder.

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