Today, many young Albertans dream of one day playing in the National Hockey League (NHL) and gliding across the ice to the approving roars of thousands of fans. They dream of their Oilers’ idols and of the great players of the past; Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Lowe, Anderson, Fuhr.
There have been several dynasties in the NHL: the Toronto Maple Leafs of the 1940s, the Detroit Red Wings and Montréal Canadiens of the 1950s, the Leafs of the 1960s, the Canadiens and New York Islanders of the 1970s, and finally the Oilers of the 1980s.
These are the teams that are remembered as the greatest to ever play in the NHL, but it was the Oilers that rewrote the NHL record book. The Toronto Maple Leafs of the 1940s may have been good, but they never scored 400 times in a season. The Red Wings had Gordie Howe, but the Oilers had Wayne Gretzky. The Canadiens won five Cups in a row, but that was in an era when the League had just six teams and only three or four legitimate contenders. The Leafs of the 1960s were quick, but did not have the speed of Glenn Anderson and Paul Coffey. The Canadiens of the 1970s had class, but the Oilers had youthful inhibition and swagger. It was from the great Islanders team that the Oilers wrested their first of five Stanley Cups.
It is the great debates between hockey fans—who was the greatest hockey team of all time? With five Stanley Cups in seven seasons from 1984 to 1990, the Oilers may be the best the game has seen.