October 21, 2016 2:01 pm
Updated: October 21, 2016 7:34 pm

The history behind the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers rivalry

WATCH: A long-standing history between the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.


As the players for the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets lace up for practice ahead of the Heritage Classic this weekend, we look back at a rivalry that spans more than four decades.

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Before the teams joined the NHL, the Oilers and Jets met on the ice for the first time on Oct. 15, 1972, when they were franchises in the World Hockey Association (WHA).

Back then, the Jets were the fan favourites, meeting and beating the Oilers twice in the playoffs before winning the Avco World Trophy three times.

In 1979, the two teams headed into the NHL as part of a four-team expansion. However, when they joined, the hockey gods seemed to join forces with Edmonton.

During the 1980s the Jets made it to the post-season eight times. But almost every year, it was the Oilers that cut short any dreams of a championship win.

READ MORE: Former Oilers reunite in Edmonton to remember 1984 Stanley Cup win

Edmonton beat Winnipeg in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1987, and captured five Stanley Cups during that decade.

“It was a tough first round match-up,” former Edmonton Oiler, Paul Coffey said. “Unfortunately for the Jets, they had a tough time getting past us.”

And then there was 1990. This was the year when the Jets were leading the division semi-finals three games to one. The Oilers won game five and game six was tied at three goals apiece when the game was delayed — by popcorn.

“1990 will always live in my mind as the year some fan threw a box of popcorn on the ice,” former Winnipeg Jets’ owner, Barry Shenkarow said.

“Everything was going our way. If the fan hadn’t thrown the popcorn on the ice we probably would have beaten Edmonton that year,” he said.

READ MORE: Heritage Classic alumni rosters announced

The Jets lost that series in seven games and the two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since.

Watch below: Edmonton Oilers great Mark Messier talks about how past players have had an impact on today’s game

While the rivalry may have faded, the memories have not — with another shot at redemption at the Heritage Classic this Saturday.


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