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The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmontonmarker, Albertamarker, Canadamarker. They are members of the Northwest Division in the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).

The Oilers were founded on November 1, 1971, with the team playing its first season in 1972 as one of twelve founding franchises of the major professional World Hockey Association (WHA). Notably, the team was temporarily renamed the Alberta Oilers when the Calgary Broncos (a fellow WHA founding franchise in Alberta) relocated to Cleveland, Ohio. However, the team returned to the Edmonton Oilers name the following year. The Oilers subsequently joined the NHL in 1979 as one of four franchises introduced through the NHL merger with the WHA. The Oilers are now the sole remaining WHA team playing in their original city.

After joining the NHL, the Oilers quickly went on to win the Stanley Cup on five occasions: 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990. As one of the dominant NHL teams of the 1980s, the Oilers team of this era has been honored with "dynasty" status by the Hockey Hall of Famemarker.

Franchise history

WHA years (1972–1979)

First primary logo used, from 1972–96, using blue and orange.
On November 1, 1971, the Edmonton Oilers became one of the 12 founding World Hockey Association franchises. The original team owner was Bill Hunter. Hunter had previously owned the junior hockey franchise Edmonton Oil Kings. He had also founded what would become the Western Hockey League. However, Hunter's efforts to bring major professional hockey to Edmontonmarker via an expansion NHL franchise had been rebuffed by the NHL. Therefore, Hunter looked to the upstart WHA instead. It was Hunter who chose the "Oilers" name for the new WHA franchise. This was a name that had previously been used as a nickname for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1950s and 1960s.

After the newly founded Calgary Broncos were relocated to Cleveland prior to commencement of the inaugural WHA season, the Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers as it was planned to split their home games between Edmonton and Calgarymarker. Therefore, the team began their inaugural year wearing the name of the province ("ALBERTA") along the backs of their jerseys where the players' names would usually appear. However, the team switched to presenting the players' names midway through the season. Possibly for financial reasons or to allow for a less complicated return of the WHA to Calgary, the team ultimately played all of its home games in the Edmonton Gardens and subsequently changed its name back to the Edmonton Oilers the following year.

The team proved popular with the fans, behind stars such as defenceman and team captain Al Hamilton, star goaltender Dave Dryden, and forwards Blair MacDonald and Bill Flett. The team's performance would change for the better in 1978, when new owner Peter Pocklington scored one of the greatest trades in hockey history, acquiring already-aspiring superstar Wayne Gretzky as an under-age player (consequentially, his first year of WHA experience did not make him an official 1979–80 NHL rookie), as well as goaltender Eddie Mio and forward Peter Driscoll, from the recently-folded Indianapolis Racers for a token sum. Gretzky's first and only WHA season, 1978–79, saw the Oilers shoot to the top of the WHA standings, posting a league-best 48–30–2 record. However, Edmonton's regular season success did not translate into a championship, as they fell to the rival Winnipeg Jets in the Avco World Trophy Final. Young Oilers enforcer Dave Semenko scored the last goal in WHA history late in the third period of the final game.

The Oilers joined the National Hockey League for 1979–80, along with fellow WHA teams Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and the Jets following a merger agreement between the two leagues. Of these four teams, only Edmonton has avoided relocation and renaming; the Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995, the Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996, and the Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.

Entry into the NHL (1979–1983)

The Oilers lost most of the players from 1978–79 when the NHL held a reclamation draft of players who had bolted to the upstart league. They were allowed to protect two goaltenders and two skill players, including Gretzky.

However, GM/coach Glen Sather carefully restocked the roster in the expansion draft. He later said that out of 761 players on the draft list, only 53 really interested him. He concentrated on drafting free agents, since the Oilers would get compensation if they signed somewhere else. He estimated that this saved the Oilers as much as $500,000 that could be used in the Entry Draft.

This strategy allowed the Oilers to put together a fairly respectable team quickly. In marked contrast, the Jets finished dead last in the league two years in a row. The Oilers benefited from an early run of success in the Entry Draft. Within three years, Sather and chief scout Barry Fraser bagged an outstanding core of young players, including Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog.

With an abundance of speed and skill this impressive group of young talent matured into one of the greatest teams in hockey history, dominating the NHL in the mid-to-late 1980s. Many experts consider the Oilers from that decade not only to be the best team ever in the long history of the NHL, but also one of the best sports teams ever, as evidenced by a recent Sporting News poll in February 2006 when the 1987–88 Oilers were listed as one of the top-five teams from the last 120 years.

The Oilers made a name for themselves very early, making the Stanley Cup playoffs in their first NHL season (1979–80) with a dramatic late-season winning streak, but were swept by the Philadelphia Flyers in three games. Gretzky's rookie disappointment was not limited to the "merger" rule that disqualified him from Calder Memorial Trophy voting—the Los Angeles Kings' Marcel Dionne was awarded the Art Ross Trophy (point-scoring crown). Although both Gretzky and Dionne each scored 137 points, Dionne won the Art Ross on the basis scoring two more goals. In his 1985 biography of his son, Gretzky: From the Backyard Rink to the Stanley Cup, Walter Gretzky argued that the NHL was inconsistent and unfair with regards to Wayne's eligibility for the Calder Trophy and "loss" of the Art Ross Trophy. While the letter of the law was against him, Gretzky won over the voters with his remarkable performance, and was awarded the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, an unprecedented feat for a teenager. It turned out to be the first of eight in a row.

In the 1980–81 regular season, Gretzky began to take serious aim at the record book, scoring 109 assists and 164 points to break records held by former Bruin greats Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and Bill Cowley. The Oilers unveiled a spectacular crop of rookies: Kurri, Anderson, Coffey and Moog. The youthful Oilers, whose seven key players were 21 or younger, stunned the hockey world by sweeping the heavily-favoured Montreal Canadiens in three games and pushing the (successfully) defending Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders to six games.

In the 1981–82 season, the Oilers made a dramatic leap in the standings—jumping from 74 points (14th overall) in the previous season to 111 points (second overall, behind only the Islanders). Gretzky not only became the third NHL player to score 50 goals in 50 games, joining the Islanders' Mike Bossy from the previous season and Canadiens legend Maurice Richard from 1944–45, doing so in just 39 games. Gretzky finished the season with unprecedented totals of 92 goals and 212 points, records that have never been seriously threatened. The explosive Oilers became the first NHL team to score 400 goals, a feat they accomplished in five consecutive seasons. But youthful lapses of discipline led to a first round defeat at the hands of the Kings, even as Gretzky beat Dionne for the Art Ross—in the 1980–81 to 1986–87 seasons, Gretzky won the Art Ross trophy every season, beating the annual runner-up by a staggering average of 66 points. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player in each of his first eight seasons.

In 1982–83 the Oilers solidified their status as an elite team, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they were swept in four games by the three-time defending champion Islanders, who had already-greats like Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies and Denis Potvin. Goaltender Billy Smith played a huge role in the Finals, holding the high-scoring Oilers to just 6 goals. Despite the sweep, many hockey pundits believed it was only a question of when, not if, the Oilers would finally break through.

Dynasty years (1983–1990)

In 1983–84, the Oilers roared through the regular season, earning a franchise-record 57 wins and 119 points—by far the best record in the league—while scoring a still-unmatched NHL record 446 goals. They earned a rematch with the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals. They won the opening game in Long Island by a score of 1–0, and were pounded 6–1 in the next game. However, the Oilers erupted on their home ice to outscore the Islanders 19–6 over the last three games of the series. Gretzky scored his 99th and 100th goals of the season in the finale, a 5–2 Oiler triumph on May 19, 1984. Mark Messier, a former All-Star left wing switched to center late in the season in an inspired move by Sather, emerged from Gretzky's shadow with a dominating Finals performance that earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Edmonton repeated as Stanley Cup champions in 1985, overpowering the Philadelphia Flyers and goaltender Pelle Lindbergh. Gretzky, Coffey, and Kurri all established playoff scoring records, with Gretzky capturing the Smythe Trophy for his virtuoso 47-point performance. The Oilers were unstoppable, scoring eight goals in the final game of each of their last three series, as well as going on an unmatched record 10 game winning streak to start the playoffs.

The Oilers seemed invincible after another record-smashing regular season in 1985–86, in which they won the first-ever Presidents' Trophy, awarded to the team finishing with the most points in the regular season. Kurri, Anderson, and Gretzky all scored over 50 goals, while Coffey notched 48 to break Bobby Orr's record for defencemen. Gretzky's 163 assists established a seemingly-unbreakable league record; in fact, at that point no other NHL player had ever scored that many points in a season. Shockingly, their bid for a third straight championship—"three-peat"—came to an end in Game 7 of the 1985–86 Smythe Division Finals against the Flames. In the third period of a 2–2 tie, rookie defenceman Steve Smith banked his breakout pass off goaltender Grant Fuhr's left skate and into the Oilers' net. The goal stood as the game- and-series-winning goal.

At this point, Edmonton home attendance began to suffer for reasons unknown. In 1986–87, Edmonton returned to the Stanley Cup Final and again defeated the Flyers in a tense seven-game series, overcoming a Conn Smythe Trophy winning performance by Philadelphia rookie goalie Ron Hextall. In the seventh game Oiler stars Messier, Kurri, and Anderson were able to solve Hextall for a goal apiece, and a mature Edmonton squad held the Flyers to just two shots in the third period en route to a convincing 3–1 victory. In the post-game celebration, Gretzky immediately passed the Stanley Cup to Steve Smith, now vindicated after his costly miscue the previous season.

Wayne Gretzky statue outside of Rexall Place.
The following season saw some trouble with fluid blueliner Coffey, who was unhappy with his contract. He held out, prompting a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team on which Mario Lemieux was the main star. The key player acquired in return was Craig Simpson, who went on to score 56 goals that season. Without Coffey in 1987–88, the Oilers were dethroned as Smythe Division champions by their provincial rivals, the Flames, who also won the President's Trophy. However, the playoffs saw the Oilers make their strongest run to the Cup, losing only two playoff games (the lowest loss total ever for the Cup winners under the "16 wins" playoff format) and sweeping the Boston Bruins to win their fourth Stanley Cup in five years.

A notable event in Finals history occurred in Game Four on May 24. With the score tied 3–3 in the second period, a power outage struck the legendary Boston Gardenmarker, forcing cancellation of the whole game. Then-NHL President John Ziegler ordered the game to be re-scheduled, and, if necessary, played in Boston after the originally scheduled Game Seven in Edmonton. The Oilers would win the next game (originally scheduled as Game Five) back in Edmonton 6–3 to complete the series sweep. All player statistics accrued in the aborted Game Four in Boston are counted in the NHL record books. Gretzky established yet another record with 13 points in the Finals en route to his second Smythe Trophy. After the Cup-clinching game, Gretzky implored his teammates, coaches, trainers, and others from the Oilers organization to join at centre ice for an impromptu team photo with the Stanley Cup, a tradition since continued by every subsequent Stanley Cup Champion.

On August 9, 1988, Gretzky, along with fan favourites Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski, was traded to Los Angeles for $15 million, two rising young players (Jimmy Carson and Martin Gelinas), along with three first-round draft picks. Carson only played two seasons in Edmonton before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings. Gelinas played five years for Edmonton, never scoring more than twenty goals. The Oilers traded the 1989 pick (Jason Miller) to the New Jersey Devils for defenceman Corey Foster, then used the 1991 and 1993 picks to select Martin Rucinsky and Nick Stajduhar, respectively, neither of whom were major contributors during their time in Edmonton.

The 1988–89 season was a troubled one, as the Oilers were booted out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1982, losing a seven-game series to Gretzky's Kings. On top of this defeat, they had to see the Cup ultimately claimed by Calgary, their bitter rival. Gretzky and Kurri had been the dominant offensive pairing of the 1980s, and many said that Kurri without Gretzky would be ordinary. But in making the NHL Second All-Star Team in his first season without Gretzky, with 44 goals and 58 assists, Kurri proved his critics wrong.

It was seemingly the beginning of the end for Edmonton's brilliance, and 1989–90 looked set to continue the turmoil for the former juggernaut. Fuhr, the team's All-Star goaltender and a future Hall of Famermarker, was injured for most of the season and playoffs with a badly separated shoulder. He would be traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1991 after publicly acknowledging his cocaine problem (for which he was suspended an NHL record 60 games during the 1990–91 season). However, the team rallied behind Fuhr's backup Bill Ranford and an MVP season from new team captain Mark Messier to achieve a second-place finish in the Smythe Division behind Calgary. In the playoffs, the Oilers, led by their "Kid Line" of Gelinas, Adam Graves, and Joe Murphy (not to be confused with the 1932 Leafs line of the same name consisting of Busher Jackson, Joe Primeau, and Charlie Conacher), defeated Winnipeg, Los Angeles, and Chicago before disposing of the Bruins in five games to claim their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years. Ranford won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff Most Valuable Player for his brilliant goaltending, and Kurri said of the victory, "Just a great load off the backs of us Oilers—we're not a one-man show, and everybody knows it now, after we won without Wayne." This season was also a test for Mark Messier, who was named captain one season prior. He proved his leadership skills, having a career season with 129 points, finishing second to none other than Gretzky in scoring, scoring five more goals than Gretzky, and captaining his team to the Stanley Cup.

Seven Oilers, including Messier, Anderson, Kurri, Lowe, Fuhr, Randy Gregg, and Charlie Huddy, played on all five of those championship teams. Messier, Anderson, and Lowe subsequently won a sixth Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994; by remarkable coincidence, they were the first three draft choices in the history of the NHL Oilers.

Rebuilding years (1991–2004)

The Gretzky trade had opened up a new reality of rapidly climbing salaries in the NHL. Edmonton has always been one of the smallest markets in the NHL; for most of the dynasty years it was the fourth-smallest (ahead of only Quebec, Hartford and Calgary) and is currently the smallest market. Despite Pocklington's wealth, the Oilers simply were not able to match the salaries offered by larger-market teams. This rash of escalating salaries hit the Canadian teams particularly hard; only Toronto, Montreal, and (to a lesser extent) Vancouver had the resources to compete in this new environment. In addition, Pocklington's business empire sank under the weight of recession, scandal, and corruption.

Messier, Kurri, Fuhr, Anderson, and later Craig MacTavish all left the team in rapid succession after the 1990 Cup triumph. Many of the players from the dynasty years continued to play at an elite level well into the 1990s, leading to speculation about how many more Cups the Oilers would have won had Pocklington been able to keep the team together. For instance, in 1994, the Rangers won the Cup with seven former Oilers on the roster—Messier (the first Stanley Cup captain on two teams), Lowe, Anderson, Graves, MacTavish, Esa Tikkanen, and Jeff Beukeboom. The Rangers' Stanley Cup win was the last hurrah for the great Edmonton team of the 1980s.

The departures of the stars from the 1980s exposed serious deficiencies in the Oilers' development system. The younger players on the roster hadn't had time to develop before the players from the dynasty era left town. Also, the Oilers had done a poor job of drafting during the dynasty years, though it had gone unnoticed since their stellar records resulted in them drafting late in the entry draft. However, this didn't become apparent for a few years, as the Oilers were still strong enough to make it to the Campbell Conference finals in 1991 and 1992. However, it was obvious that the Oilers were nowhere near being the powerhouse that had dominated the league in the previous half-decade. In 1993 the Oilers missed the playoffs for only the third time in franchise history, and their first time as an NHL team. They would not return to the post-season for four years, despite the emergence of young centremen Doug Weight and Jason Arnott.

Trouble followed the team off the ice as well. For most of the 1990s, the Oilers were desperately trying to stay alive. In 1998, the team was nearly sold to Houstonmarker interests who sought to move the team, but before the sale was finalized, and with just hours left on the deadline, the Edmonton Investors Group, a consortium of 37 Edmonton-based owners, raised the funds to purchase the team from Pocklington, vowing to keep the Oilers in Edmonton. The Oilers received support in this endeavour from the NHL, which had already seen two Canadian teams (the Nordiques and Jets) move to the United States earlier in the decade.

Oilers "rigger" shoulder patch logo, 1996—2007.
In 1997, the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time in five years, and in the first round, they upset the Dallas Stars, who had compiled the league's second best record, in an exciting seven-game series. Riding on the hot goaltending of Curtis Joseph, the Oilers completed the upset on a breakaway by Todd Marchant in overtime. Another highlight of that playoff series was on April 20. Down 3–0 with just under four minutes to go in Game Three, the Oilers rallied for three goals in the final three minutes of the third period to tie the game and eventually win 4–3 in overtime on Kelly Buchberger's game-winning goal.

Though Edmonton would lose to the defending Cup Champs, Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche, in the next round, fans were ecstatic about the Oilers' return to the playoffs. In 1998, Joseph led the Oilers to another first-round upset. After spotting the Avalanche a 3–1 lead, the Oilers held the powerful Avalanche scoreless for eight straight periods en route to winning the series in seven games. Dallas and Edmonton met again in the second round, but this time, the Stars were the victors. This was the start of one of the most unusual rivalries in hockey: between 1997 and 2003 the Oilers and Stars played each other in the playoffs six times, five of them first-round matchups. The only year in which they did not meet was 2002, when neither team made the playoffs. This streak was not formally ended until 2006, when the second-seeded Stars (in the Western Conference) were eliminated in the first round by the Avalanche, while, for the first time in 16 years, the eighth-seeded Oilers went to the Stanley Cup Finals.

On November 22, 2003, the Oilers hosted the Heritage Classic, the first regular season outdoor hockey game in the NHL's history and part of the celebrations of the Oilers' 25th season in the NHL. The Oilers were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens 4–3 in front of more than 55,000 fans, an NHL attendance record, at Commonwealth Stadiummarker in Edmonton. A few days earlier, on November 17, 2003, the Edmonton Oilers desperately needed a centre, and signed veteran Adam Oates to a contract. However, the 2003–04 NHL season was a disappointment as the Oilers failed to make the playoffs, despite also acquiring centre Petr Nedved from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline as the team went on a late-season surge, staying in the playoff hunt until the end of the season, narrowly eliminated from the postseason.

On July 23, 2004, the team announced that its American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Roadrunners, would play the 2004–05 AHL season at the Oilers' home arena of Rexall Placemarker. The decision, an unusual one for a North American professional sports organization, was likely influenced by the expectation that the 2004–05 NHL lockout would wipe out the 2004–05 NHL season. After an unsuccessful year, the Edmonton Road Runners were suspended, and , have not yet been revived in any form. Those plans have all but been terminated as the Oilers' long-planned push to own an expansion Western Hockey League major-junior franchise were granted on June 27, 2006. That team began play in the 2007–2008 season.

Post-lockout years (2005–present)

The Oilers struggled with their small-market status for years as big-market teams scooped up high-priced help, but after the wiped-out 2004–05 season, the Oilers looked poised to compete again. 2004–05 NHL lockout negotiations led to a collective bargaining agreement between the NHL owners and players that included a league-wide salary cap, forcing all teams to essentially conform to a budget, as many small-market teams had been doing for years. Sold-out buildings and a more reasonable conversion rate of Canadian dollar revenues to U.S. dollar payroll in the new millennium have also helped the Oilers to return to profitability.

Although Edmonton was one of the last teams to make a big splash in the free-agent market, they were able to acquire the rights to and sign former Hart- and Norris Trophy-winner Chris Pronger from the St. Louis Blues to a 5-year, $31.25 million contract, as well as trade for New York Islanders forward Michael Peca, two-time winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward. Although the club had to give up Mike York and Eric Brewer to the Islanders and Blues, respectively, fans now hoped the team could at least return to the playoffs, if not to the glory the franchise enjoyed during its mid to late 1980s dynasty era.

However, the team suffered again from inconsistency during the first few months of the regular season, especially in goal and on offence. Goaltender Ty Conklin was injured during training camp, and when he returned, was unreliable in net. Nominal backup Jussi Markkanen showed flashes of brilliance, but still was not quite ready for regular NHL goaltending duty. Edmonton even tried third-string goalie Mike Morrison, called up from the East Coast Hockey League, but after a strong start, he too faded. A streaky goal-scoring production led by left-wingers Ryan Smyth and Raffi Torres had trouble putting pucks in the net at times, but Torres did produce back to back two goal games on his 24th birthday, October 8, 2005, against the Vancouver Canucks and on October 10, 2005, against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Chris Pronger also struggled early on with the rule changes restricting the amount of obstruction and front-of-the-net abuse—Pronger's previous specialty—that could be performed without a penalty, while Peca simply had trouble adapting to the Oilers' system and expectations, desperately underachieving. Many called for head coach Craig MacTavish to be fired; others wanted a big trade, some miracle. Nothing major materialized, but by the end of December, the Oilers led the Northwest Division with a 22–18–4 record for 48 points.

However, the Oilers remained inconsistent. By the end of January, the Oilers traded for scoring defencemen Jaroslav Spacek from the Chicago Blackhawks and Dick Tarnstrom from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and both defencemen, Spacek in particular, secured their shaky blue line. However, their goaltending was still in doubt, and the Oilers struggled after the Winter Olympic break. But right before Trading Deadline 2006, the Oilers added 2004 All-Star goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the Minnesota Wild, and speedy forward Sergei Samsonov, a former rookie of the year, from the Boston Bruins. The Oilers gave up a pair of picks for Roloson, and checking centre Marty Reasoner and prospect Yan Stastny (previously acquired from the Bruins) along with a 2006 second round draft pick for Samsonov. Reasoner returned to Edmonton after the 2006 playoffs ended.

The new acquisitions paid off, and Edmonton finished the regular season with 95 points, clinching the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference over Vancouvermarker. Oiler youngsters Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, and Jarret Stoll led the way in scoring, with break-out seasons of 77, 73, and 68 points, respectively. Smyth finished with 36 goals and 66 points, the second-best seasons of his career in both respects. Smyth led the team in goal-scoring, with Raffi Torres next on the list at 27.

2006 playoff run

In the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers played the Presidents' Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings. Though not given much of a chance by experts around the league, the Oilers embarked on a great Cinderella run, pulling off a six-game upset, neutralizing Wings' offensive weapons Brendan Shanahan, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk by using the neutral zone trap. It was the team's first playoff series win since 1998. Edmonton would meet the San Jose Sharks in the Conference Semifinal and were not favoured to win again. The Sharks' regular season scoring leader Joe Thornton (also acquired from the Bruins to go to San Jose) and goal champ Jonathan Cheechoo had just beat the Nashville Predators in 5 games in their previous series. After trailing the series two-games-to-none, the Oilers won the next four, vaulting them into Conference Final. In Game Six, Roloson had a 2–0 shutout—his first ever—and Michael Peca netted the game- and series-winning goal. In doing so, the Oilers became the first eighth-seeded team to reach a Conference Final since the NHL changed the playoff format in 1994. There the Oilers would beat the sixth-seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in five games, claiming the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl for a franchise record seventh time.

Edmonton continued their Cinderella run against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Finals (marking the first time two former World Hockey Association franchises met in Stanley Cup play—the Hurricanes were previously the Hartford Whalers). In the third period of Game 1, with the score tied at 4, Oilers blue-liner Marc-Andre Bergeron knocked 'Canes winger Andrew Ladd into Oilers starting goalie Dwayne Roloson, causing an injury to Roloson's MCL, knocking him out of the series. With Roloson out, Rod Brind'Amour scored the game winner on a mix up by Ty Conklin and Jason Smith with only thirty seconds left. After trailing the series 2–0 and 3–1, the Oilers forced a seventh game while riding backup Jussi Markkanen, a overtime shorthanded goal in game 5 by local hero Fernando Pisani, and a 4–0 shutout win at home in Game 6. They could not complete the comeback, however, as the Hurricanes won Game 7 by a score of 3–1 to capture their first ever Stanley Cup championship. The Oilers, on the other hand, would later hang their 23rd banner in their young history by winning the Western Conference Title. Like the Calgary Flames before them Edmonton failed in a seventh game to win the Stanley Cup.

2006 off-season

Four days after their loss to the Hurricanes, Chris Pronger surprised Oiler fans and management when he issued a trade request on June 23, citing unspecified personal reasons. On July 3, 2006 Pronger was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, defensive prospect Ladislav Smid, Anaheim's first round draft pick in 2007, Anaheim's second in 2008, and a conditional first round pick. In addition, many of the Oilers' 2005–06 acquisitions signed for contracts elsewhere: Jaroslav Spacek went to the Buffalo Sabres on July 5, Sergei Samsonov signed with the Montreal Canadiens on July 12, and Michael Peca with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on July 18. In addition, enforcer and fan favourite Georges Laraque, despite offering the Oilers a substantial pay cut in exchange for a no-trade clause, wound up signing with the Phoenix Coyotes, and goaltender Ty Conklin, seeking to rebuild his reputation, signed a two-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets the following day. The Oilers also lost 2002–03 New York Rangers acquisition Radek Dvorak to unrestricted free agency as the St. Louis Blues signed him on September 14.

Despite these losses, many of the Oilers' core players were re-signed. Playoff heroes and locally born Fernando Pisani and Dwayne Roloson, age 37, signed as unrestricted free agents (UFAs) on the first day of eligibility, July 1. Jarret Stoll, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky filed for arbitration as restricted free agents, but all settled for multi-year deals before their hearings came up; Hemsky, in particular, signed for six years and $24.6 million. The Oilers also brought back centre Marty Reasoner, whom they had traded for Samsonov in March, prospect Tom Gilbert from the University of Wisconsin–Madisonmarker, defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist from the Minnesota Wild, and defenceman Jan Hejda from Khimik Moscow Oblast of the Russian Super League, whose rights were acquired from the Sabres for a seventh-round pick. On August 11, Rangers UFA forward Petr Sykora and the Oilers agreed on a one-year contract. Just over a month later, on September 12, Joffrey Lupul and the Oilers agreed to a three-year contract worth $6.935 million.. Since 2006 the Edmonton Oilers have aggressively sought to sign elite players such as Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres with a 40 million dollar offer that was matched by Buffalo. Many players since 2006 have been heavily rumored to have had substantial offers to play in Edmonton, such as Jaromir Jagr who decided instead to play in the Russian KHL league. Marian Hossa accepted a lesser offer to play for the 2008-9 Detroit Red Wings. Dany Heatley is the most recent refusal who despite demanding a trade from the Ottawa Senators exercised his no trade clause and refused to be dealt to the Edmonton Oilers; despite rare public presentation of the details of the trade and enormous pressure brought upon him. The growing refusal of highly skilled NHL players wanting to play in Edmonton is a point of growing speculation. Some have listed the city itself and its' highly cold climate, Oiler management or critical hockey media as possible explanations.

2006–07 season

The 'You're in Oil Country' slogan was introduced in the 2006-07 season.

The Oilers posted a 32–43–7 record, their lowest point total since the 1995–1996 season, finishing in 11th place in the Western Conference and missing the playoffs. Throughout the season, the Oilers lost various players to injury and illness. At one point, they had eleven players out of the line-up and had to rely on emergency call-ups to fill their roster.

In May 2007, Daryl Katz offered $145 million towards the purchase of the team. Sources close to the Edmonton Journal state that, as part of the deal, the team will remain in Edmonton. No negotiations took place as the Board of Directors immediately responded that the Oilers were not for sale. In July 2007, Katz tried again, this time increasing the offer to an amount over $170 million dollars. Katz bypassed the Board of Directors and brought the offer directly to the shareholders. As of January 31, 2008, Katz has upped the offer to $200M plus $100M towards a new arena. He is expected to take over control of the team before the February fifth deadline.

Other highlights include:
  • October 12, 2006: Ryan Smyth records the fastest Oilers hat trick in franchise history at 2:01 minutes, breaking Wayne Gretzky's record of 2:12 minutes.
  • January 2, 2007: The Oilers win their 1000th NHL game. They are the third fastest team to reach 1000 wins after the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • February 27, 2007: The Oilers traded Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders for Ryan O'Marra, Robert Nilsson, and a first round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The trade was announced just after the official deadline passed, which was sparked after failed contract negotiations to keep Smyth with the Oilers. Kevin Lowe and the Oilers management characterized the trade as an opportunity to build for the future. The trade was on the same day of Mark Messier's jersey retirement by the Oilers. To avoid disrupting the emotional ceremony with possible harassment from fans, Lowe was not seen on the ice with other Oiler alumni in attendance. The trade of Smyth, however, seemed to take more out of the Oilers than many expected. After the Smyth trade, the Oilers won only 2 of their remaining 19 games, which included 11 consecutive losses.

2007–08 season

The Oilers started out of the gate very slowly, going 5-10 in their first 15 games. They would finish the first half of the season 16-21-4. They would, however, turn it around after New Year's. With the emergence of young players like Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson, Tom Gilbert, and Denis Grebeshkov, the Oilers would finish the second half of the season a remarkable 25-14-2 in 41 games. This despite missing big free agent signing Sheldon Souray, Shawn Horcoff, Raffi Torres, and team captain Ethan Moreau for the rest of the season. The Oilers finished 41-35-6, in ninth place in the Western Conference and only 3 points back of a playoff spot. Expectations were high for the 08-09 season.

  • February 5, 2008: After several unsuccessful attempts at purchasing the Edmonton Oilers from the Edmonton Investors Group, Daryl Katz obtained letters of intent to sell from all of the previous owners. The Katz Group also owns the naming rights to the rink the Edmonton Oilers play in, named "Rexall Placemarker" after the billionaire's pharmaceutical chain.

In the off season, Kevin Lowe traded centreman Jarret Stoll and defenceman Matt Greene for the experienced Lubomir Visnovsky of the Los Angeles Kings. He also traded promising young defenceman Joni Pitkanen for the veteran power forward Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes. Lowe also made offers in the off season to sign star forwards Marian Hossa and Jaromir Jagr, although neither deal went through. These moves were uncharacteristic for the Oilers over the last decade, but with new ownership and a new NHL, the Oilers have shown that they can compete in the free agent market for high priced talent.

2008–09 season

Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson set an NHL record for being the oldest goaltender to play 60 games in a season. The Oilers failed to qualify for the 2009 Postseason.

2009 off-season

The Oilers kicked off the off-season by firing long-time head coach Craig MacTavish and assistants Billy Moores and Charlie Huddy. The Oilers replaced MacT by hiring Pat Quinn to be the head coach, Tom Renney as the associate coach and Wayne Fleming as the assistant coach, while Kelly Buchberger was retained as assistant coach. The Oilers then drafted highly touted Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson 10th overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The Oilers then traded fan-favorite Kyle Brodziak to the Minnesota Wild for two draft picks in the 2009 Draft, which the Oilers used to draft Kyle Bigos and Olivier Roy. The Oilers then headed into Free Agency with two key Free Agents in Dwayne Roloson and Ales Kotalik. Oilers let both of them walk and replaced them with Nikolai Khabibulin and Mike Comrie, respectively. Khabibulin signed a 4yr/$15 million contract, while Comrie signed a 1yr/$1.125 million contract. While the Oilers made these transactions, the whole off-season was marred by the huge blockbuster trade that was made with the Ottawa Senators in which the Oilers would acquire 2-time 50 goal scorer Dany Heatley in exchange for forwards Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner, and defenseman Ladislav Smid, only to have Heatley veto the trade. This would go on until the beginning of August, with the Oilers desperately trying to woo Heatley to come to Edmonton, by sending him a gift basket with some videos of some of the players he'd be playing with (most notably Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner). Heatley wouldn't bite, and would later get traded to the San Jose Sharks for Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek.


  • Calgary Flames: The Battle of Alberta is the nickname given to the rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. The Battle of Alberta predates the NHL, but it is on the ice that this rivalry is at its zenith. Although 1991 was the last year these teams met in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it still remains one of the most storied and bitter rivalries in professional sports.

  • Vancouver Canucks: Although not the Battle of Alberta, these two teams still have an intense, fierce rivalry. Most of the games played between these two feel like its playoff hockey, and with each game played, have playoff implications on their seasons.

Defunct rivalries

  • Dallas Stars: The "David vs. Goliath" rivalry began during the 1997 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Oilers were heavy underdogs, finishing the season with a respectable 81 points. The Dallas Stars were an intimidating opponent, finishing with 104 points. This was the first of five straight playoff battles between the two clubs. The Oilers upset the Stars in a memorable series capped off by an overtime thriller in game 7. This rivalry was at its peak in the early 2000s, the teams meeting 6 out of 7 years from 1997–2003.

Team information


Alternate logo from away jersey (1975–79).
The original 1972 design featured the now-traditional colours of blue and orange, but reversed from their more familiar appearance in later seasons, orange being the dominant colour and blue used for the trimming. For the first few games of the 1972 season, player names were not displayed on the uniform; rather the word "ALBERTA" was written in that space. Once it became clear, however, that the team would play exclusively in Edmonton, the player names made their appearance. These jerseys also featured the player numbers high on the shoulders, rather than on the upper sleeve.

In the 1975–76 WHA season the jersey was changed to the more familiar blue base with orange trim, but with some minor differences. The logo that appeared on programs and promotional material remained the same; however, the logo that appeared on the home jersey had a white oil drop, on a dark orange field, with the team name written in deep blue. The away jersey featured the orange-printed logo that many mistakenly attribute to the entire history of the WHA Oilers. Otherwise, though, the jerseys were nearly identical to the dynasty-era form that is known throughout the hockey world.

Alternate logo from home jersey (1975–79)
When the team jumped to the NHL in 1979, the alternate logos were discarded and the jersey took its most famous form, though the logo did appear slightly different on a few vintages of the jersey. Minor changes were also made to the numbering, lettering, and collar in their first few NHL campaigns. The essential design remained untouched until 1996, when the blue and orange were replaced by midnight blue and copper. Other changes made to the jersey at that point were the removal of the orange shoulder bar and cuffs from the away jersey, and the addition of the "Rigger" alternate logo to the end of the shoulder bar on the home jersey, and the equivalent position on the road jersey. A year later, the shoulder bars were removed from the home jersey as well, and the Oilers' sweater design then remained stable until 2007.

In 2001, the introduction of the third jersey featuring a logo designed by Spawn creator and Oilers co-owner, Todd McFarlane, and Brent Ashe, was a controversial move, given the negative reactions to many other teams' designs. While there remains some disdain towards both the "Rigger" logo and McFarlane's "Blades" logo—meant to symbolize elements of the Oilers' past—the navy, silver, and white design is generally considered a success, though there were never any plans for it to become the basis for the team's primary jerseys, as has been done previously by the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks. The jersey became a big hit with the fans and became the best-selling third jersey in NHL History. McFarlane spoke about the jersey to the Edmonton Journal on the day it was unveiled, saying, "We wanted it to be a hockey jersey but also a good wear if you were just walking down the street." The logo was designed to represent what the Oilers were all about. "Sharp, blade-like shapes signify the blades of a hockey skate ... the five rivets around the oil drop represent the five Stanley Cups won by the Oilers ... inner and outer gear shapes signify force and reinforce the concept of teamwork and industriousness." McFarlane also mentioned, "The oil drop is derived from the original logo. It's turned on its side to suggest speed in the new logo and it has been given a highlight to emphasize the difference from the original."

2007–08 Edge jerseys

On September 16, 2007, the Oilers revealed their Reebok Edge jerseys during the Joey Moss Cup, which is held annually before each preseason. The Oilers' colours remain copper and blue but the style is quite different.

2008-09 Third Jersey

Rumors circulated over the off-season of possibly a new alternate jersey for the Oilers after the original alternate jersey was abandoned with the release of the new RBK Edge jerseys.

On October 7, 2008, the Edmonton Oilers announced their new design publicly on their official website. As suspicions confirmed, the jersey is remarkably similar to the 1980s away jersey with the only difference of significance being the new collar style of the RBK Edge jersey system. This jersey helped commemorate the Oilers 30th season in the NHL.

2009-10 Jersey Change

The Oilers will change their home look for the 2009-10 season, playing 27 times in the orange-and-blue third jersey unveiled last season from their glory days. The copper-and-blue (which in 2008-09 was their home jersey) will now only be worn 14 times at Rexall Place, thus becoming the teams' new third jersey.

"The dark blue will become our third jersey, as was Todd McFarlane's former design (blue and silver with the gears on the sweater)", said Oilers president and CEO Patrick LaForge. "The road whites will stay the same."


The Edmonton Oilers play at 16,839 capacity Rexall Placemarker, previously known as the Edmonton Coliseum, Northlands Coliseum, and Skyreach Centre. They have played at the arena since it opened in 1974. In that time, they have seen two major renovations take place; once in 1980 when 2,000 seats were added to bring it up to NHL standards of the day and again in 1994 when luxury suites and club seating were added. Prior to that, the Oilers played at the now-demolished Edmonton Gardensmarker. New Oilers owner Daryl Katz and numerous civic politicians have expressed a desire to build a new arena in downtown Edmonton. On September 11, 2009, Patrick LaForge announced that a new arena would be built at the current site of the Baccarat Casino.

An artist's interpretation of the new building's design has been fabricated as well as published in both of the city's major newspapers, the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun.



The Oilers are the northernmost team in the four major North American professional sports leagues. Edmonton is located above 53 degrees north latitude.

The Oilers are one of five teams in the NHL without a mascot.

Season-by-season record

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Oilers. For the full season-by-season history, see Edmonton Oilers seasons

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses/Shootout Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
2004–05 Season cancelled due to 2004–05 NHL lockout
2005–061 82 41 28 13 95 256 251 1178 3rd, Northwest Lost in Finals, 3–4 (Hurricanes)
2006–07 82 32 43 7 71 195 248 1090 5th, Northwest Did not qualify
2007–08 82 41 35 6 88 235 251 1175 4th, Northwest Did not qualify
2008–09 82 38 35 9 85 234 248 1227 4th, Northwest Did not qualify

1 As of the 2005–06 NHL season, all games tied after a 5 minute overtime will be decided in a shootout; SOL (Shootout losses) will be recorded as OTL in the standings.

Notable players

Current roster

Team captains

Note: This list includes Oiler captains from both the NHL and WHA.

Hall of Famers


  • Roger Neilson, Video Analyst, 1984 Playoffs, inducted 2002
  • Glen Sather, Team Captain/Head coach/President/GM, 1976–2000, inducted 1997


Retired numbers

  • 3 Al Hamilton, D, 1972–80, number retired in 1980 (jersey ceremony held April 4, 2001)
  • 7 Paul Coffey, D, 1980–87, number retired October 18, 2005
  • 9 Glenn Anderson, RW, 1980–91, 1996, number retired January 18, 2009
  • 11 Mark Messier, C, 1979–91, number retired February 27, 2007
  • 17 Jari Kurri, RW, 1980–90, number retired October 6, 2001
  • 31 Grant Fuhr, G, 1981–91, number retired October 9, 2003
  • 99 Wayne Gretzky, C, 1978–88, number retired October 1, 1999

First-round draft picks

Note: This list does not include selections from the WHA.

Franchise scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; G/G = Goals per game; A/G = Assists per game; * = current Oilers player

Points Goals Assists
Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Wayne Gretzky C 696 583 1,086 1,669 2.40
Jari Kurri RW 754 474 569 1,043 1.38
Mark Messier C/LW 851 392 642 1,034 1.22
Glenn Anderson RW 845 417 489 906 1.07
Paul Coffey D 532 209 460 669 1.26
Doug Weight C 588 157 420 577 .98
Ryan Smyth LW 770 265 284 549 .69
Esa Tikkanen LW 490 178 258 436 .89
Kevin Lowe D 1,037 74 310 384 .37
Charlie Huddy D 694 81 287 368 .53
Player Pos G G/G
Wayne Gretzky C 583 .84
Jari Kurri RW 474 .63
Glenn Anderson RW 417 .49
Mark Messier C/LW 392 .46
Ryan Smyth LW 265 .34
Paul Coffey D 209 .39
Craig Simpson LW 185 .44
Esa Tikkanen LW 178 .36
Doug Weight C 157 .27
Craig MacTavish C 155 .22
Player Pos A A/G
Wayne Gretzky C 1,086 1.56
Mark Messier C/LW 642 .75
Jari Kurri RW 569 .75
Glenn Anderson RW 489 .58
Paul Coffey D 460 .86
Doug Weight C 420 .71
Kevin Lowe D 310 .30
Charlie Huddy D 287 .41
Ryan Smyth LW 284 .37
Esa Tikkanen LW 258 .53

NHL awards and trophies

NHL honours

NHL All-Star Game

NHL YoungStars Game

NHL All-Rookie Team

*Acquired from the Winnipeg Jets

Franchise team records

NHL (1979-present)
  • Most penalties in one game: 44
  • Longest losing streak: 1993–94
  • Most consecutive overtime games: 7
  • Most losses in a season: 1992–93, 50
  • Most shootout wins in a season: 2007–08, 15

Franchise individual records

WHA (1972–79)

NHL (1979–present)

Current staff

Other notable figures

  • Peter Pocklington, owner of the Oilers from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s. Pocklington had a number of business deals that went sour and traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988.
  • Bill Hunter, founder of the Oilers and one of the key people in establishing the World Hockey Association in 1972.
  • Joey Moss, official dressing room attendant for the Oilers. Moss, who was born with Down Syndrome, is the brother of singer Vicki Moss, whom Gretzky began dating in 1979. Gretzky asked Joey to come work for the Oilers in the early 1980s, and Moss has remained with the team ever since. Every year an intra-squad game called the "Joey Moss Cup" is held in early September. In 2003, Moss was honoured by the NHL Alumni Association with its "Seventh Man Award", honouring those for their dedication and service behind the scenes
  • Todd McFarlane, artist and creator of the comic book Spawn, was a part-owner of the franchise. In late 2001, McFarlane revealed a new logo for the Edmonton Oilers. This logo was featured on the team's third jersey. His company McFarlane Toys also makes action figures for the NHL.
  • Nelson Skalbania, who owned the Edmonton Oilers WHA franchise in the mid 1970s before selling the team to Peter Pocklington. Skalbania later owned the Indianapolis Racers and sold the contracts of three players to Pocklington in 1978 for $700,000. One of these players was Wayne Gretzky.
  • Paul Lorieau is the long-time National Anthem singer for the Edmonton Oilers.

See also


  2. 1972/73 Alberta Oilers
  3., Number 99 goes to Edmonton
  4., What was the greatest pro team of the last 120 years?
  5. Oilers sign Lupul to three-year deal
  6. Katz bids to buy Oilers
  7.—Your expert source for NHL Hockey stats, scores, standings, blogs and fantasy news from NHL Hockey columnists
  9. Oilers confirm casino site as best place for new arena
  10. Peter, Joey Moss Sports Hero

External links

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