The greatest team in NHL history.
“I’m the luckiest son of gun in the world to play on the team,” said Dave Hunter.
Hunter was a winger on the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers. The team was voted the league’s best-ever by fans as part of the NHL’s centennial.
The Oilers won the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row in the spring of 1985, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 in the final.
“I think it’s always tougher to repeat,” said former defenceman Charlie Huddy. “When you won the previous year and you’re going back into it, it’s always tough. Teams are gearing up for you.”
“In the 1984-85 season, I think there was lots of confidence,” recalled former defenceman Randy Gregg. “I think all the players realized the individual accolades were good, but if we wanted to win a Stanley Cup, we had to stay together as a team and work hard.”
The ’84-85 Oilers were driven by some of the greatest players in league history. Wayne Gretzky racked up 208 points. Jari Kurri had 71 goals. Defenceman Paul Coffey had 121 points. Mark Messier, who had an injury-shortened season, had 54 points in 55 games.
“I tend to think we were on the ice so Gretzky and Coffey could rest a little bit. They were great men, great leaders on the team,” said Gregg.
One of the most unique stories from that season belongs to Esa Tikkanen. He played just three games for the Oilers that season, all of them in the Stanley Cup final against the Flyers.
“I flew from Finland after the world championships to Chicago. Oilers won that series,” remembered Tikkanen. “Then we go to Philadelphia, and they won the first game. Glen Sather comes and tells me next game you are going to play with Jari Kurri and Wayne Gretzky. I said, ‘Okay!'”
“I think that’s one of the things that Slats did great, was he brought the right pieces in,” said Huddy. “Everybody that he brought into that team fit in.
“It was like a big family.”
But remember, families don’t always get along.
“Amongst the players, when the door closed and the coach left, there were challenges in there, too. They weren’t always the nicest type of challenges,” said former goalie Andy Moog. “We were hard on each other. We teased each other hard. We pushed each other. I think that all raised the level of expectation and accountability in the room.”
The 1984-85 Oilers had a regular season record of 49-20-11. They went 15-3 in the playoffs.
The team will be celebrated Sunday night during a special event at Rogers Place.