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). The club renamed itself the Alberta Oilers, intending to represent the whole province, when the Calgary Broncos (a fellow WHA founding franchise in Alberta) relocated to Cleveland, Ohio. However, the team returned to using the Edmonton Oilers name for the following year. The Oilers subsequently joined the NHL in 1979, as one of four franchises introduced through the NHL merger with the WHA.
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 honoured with "dynasty" status by the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- 1 Franchise history
- 1.1 WHA years (1972–79)
- 1.2 Entry into the NHL (1979–1983)
- 1.3 Dynasty years (1983–1990)
- 1.4 Transitional years (1990–1992)
- 1.5 Rebuilding years (1992–2004)
- 1.6 Post-lockout years (2005–present)
- 1.7 Rivalries
- 2 Team information
- 3 Season by Season
- 4 Players
- 5 NHL awards and trophies
- 6 NHL honours
- 7 Franchise team records
- 8 Franchise individual records
- 9 Other notable figures
- 10 References
WHA years (1972–79)
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 Edmonton 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 Calgary. 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. However, a relatively little-noticed move in 1976 would prove to be the most important in the history of the franchise. That year, journeyman forward Glen Sather jumped to the Oilers. It turned out to be his final season as a player. However, he was named player-coach late in the season, moving to the bench full-time after the season. Sather would be the face of the Oilers for the next 23 years as coach or general manager.
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. Gretzky was not an original player protected, as Peter Pocklington had signed him to a twenty-one year personal services contract in 1979. Pocklington used the contract as a trump card to force the NHL to admit the Oilers: he promised the league that Gretzky would fill every arena, but that since he was under a personal services contract to Pocklington, the only way Gretzky would enter the NHL was as an Oiler. 
However, Sather and general manager Larry Gordon carefully restocked the roster in the expansion draft. Sather 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.
The Oilers were able to take advantage of the playoff format the NHL used at that time. Since the league allowed 16 of 21 teams to make the playoffs, the Oilers were able to stay near the bottom of the league in their first two seasons, do just enough to get into the playoffs to get their young players playoff experience, and still draft among the best players available in the Entry Draft. This strategy allowed the Oilers to put together a young, talented, experienced team quickly. In marked contrast, the Winnipeg Jets finished dead last in the league two years in a row and found themselves behind the Oilers on the developmental curve as a franchise for over a decade. In addition, 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.
The Oilers made the Stanley Cup playoffs in their first NHL season (1979–80) with a dramatic late-season winning streak, finishing with 69 points and just barely eclipsing the Washington Capitals for the final playoff spot. This earned the team a date with the first-place overall Philadelphia Flyers, who swept the Oilers in three games. Oilers players garnered further headlines at the NHL Awards, as Gretzky was ruled ineligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's Rookie of the year by the "merger" rule enforced on the WHA clubs. In addition, 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 of 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 still won over the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, who awarded him with the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player.
Prior to the start of the 1980–81 regular season, Glen Sather was promoted to president and general manager, and named assistant Bryan Watson as head coach. At the start of the season, the Oilers unveiled what would turn out to be a spectacular crop of rookies: Kurri, Anderson, Coffey and Moog. After a 4-9-5 start to the season, however, Sather fired Watson and returned behind the bench. The Oilers showed a marginal improvement the rest of the season, posting a record of 25-26-11 for the remainder of the season, with Gretzky leading the way offensively. He amassed a new league record for assists with 109, and points with 164. In addition, Messier showed his potential late in the season, tallying 35 points in his final 24 games. The Oilers finished 14th in the NHL standings, and faced the heavily-favoured Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. In a surprise move, Sather decided to start rookie goalie Andy Moog in this series against the Canadiens, even though he was playing for the Central Hockey League's Wichita Wind a month earlier. Moog proved to be a star in the making, and the Oilers stunned the Canadiens by sweeping the 3-game series. In the second round, the Oilers met the first-overall and defending Stanley Cup Champion New York Islanders. Although the Oilers put up a brave fight, and won over fans with their exuberance by singing songs on their own bench during the game, the Islanders finally finished them off in six games. The Oilers' players collected more hardware in the offseason, as Gretzky won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies, respectively.
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). This season marked the debut of goaltender Grant Fuhr, who set an NHL record by going undefeated in the first 23 games of his career. By far the biggest story of the entire season, however, was Gretzky's offensive production: he 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, he smashed the record completely, scoring his 50th goal in just his 39th game of the season. Gretzky finished the season with unprecedented totals of 92 goals and 212 points. The Oilers became the first NHL team to score 400 goals, a feat they accomplished in five consecutive seasons. However, they took an embarrassing pratfall in the first round of the playoffs. They lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games, despite amassing 47 more points than the Kings in the regular season. Game Three of this series saw the Oilers rush out to a 5-0 lead, and lose 6-5 in overtime. The Oilers were honoured after the season, however, as Gretzky again captured the Hart and Art Ross Trophies, along with the first of four straight Lester B. Pearson Awards. In addition, Gretzky and Messier were named to the First NHL All-Star Team, while Fuhr and Coffey were named to the Second Team.
In 1982–83 the Oilers again dominated in the regular season, finishing 3rd in the league with 106 points. Gretzky claimed his third consecutive scoring title with 196 points, and his fourth consecutive Hart Trophy. Gretzky, Messier, Anderson, and Kurri all topped the 100 point plateau, with Coffey not far behind at 96. But it was in the playoffs that the Oilers cemented their status as an elite team, losing only one game in three rounds in reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they were swept in four games by the three-time defending champion Islanders, stacked with greats such as Mike 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: 3 by Kurri and zero by Gretzky. Smith played the role of agitator in this series: in Games One and Two, he slashed Anderson and Gretzky. Anderson was unable to practice the following day, and Gretzky crashed to the ice in pain. Smith received penalties on both plays, then incensed the Edmonton crowd by drawing a five minute major penalty on Dave Lumley. Then during Game Four, Anderson received a five minute penalty after colliding with Smith, who immediately went down writhing in pain on the ice. The Oilers accused Smith of diving, a charge Smith confirmed after the game, saying "when I hit Gretzky he rolled around and cried like he was dying. So that's what I did. I threw myself and I squirmed." Despite the sweep, and the hate it generated between the Oilers and Islanders, many hockey pundits believed it was only a question of when, not if, the Oilers would finally break through. The Oilers again collected several honours at the NHL awards: in addition to Gretzky, Charlie Huddy won the inaugural NHL Plus-Minus Award, Gretzky and Messier were again First Team All-stars, and Coffey was again selected to the Second Team. Lee Fogolin resigned the team captaincy in the offseason, handpicking Gretzky as his successor.
Dynasty years (1983–1990)
In 1983–84, the Oilers charged out of the gate as Gretzky continued to mow down scoring records. He scored at least a point in the first 51 games of the season, was held off the scoresheet in Game 52, and sat out the subsequent six games with a shoulder injury. Jari Kurri sat them out too, and the Oilers lost five straight, the last to the Hartford Whalers by the incomprehensible score of 11-0. But after a dressing-down by Coach Sather, the return of Gretzky and Kurri from injury, and switching Messier to centre from left wing, the Oilers won the next eight straight, scoring 53 goals in the process. The Oilers went 18-4-0 the rest of the season and finished with a franchise record 57 wins and 119 points, finishing first overall in the NHL, a full 15 points ahead of the second-place Islanders. In addition, the Oilers scored a league record 446 goals, a record that still stands. Gretzky broke the 200 point barrier for the second time in his career; the Oilers also became the first team in NHL history to have 3 players score more than 50 goals: Gretzky (87), Kurri (54), and Anderson (52). Finally, Paul Coffey became the second defenceman in NHL history to score 40 goals in one season. He finished with 126 points.
In the Smythe Division semifinals, the Oilers swept the Winnipeg Jets. In the division finals, the Oilers faced a tougher challenge from the Calgary Flames, but ultimately prevailed in Game 7, disposing of their provincial rivals 7-4 after trailing 4-3 midway through the second period. After sweeping the Minnesota North Stars in the conference finals, the Oilers earned a rematch with the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers hired Roger Neilson to assess weaknesses in the Islanders through video analysis. The Oilers split the first two games in Long Island, winning the first game 1-0 on strong goaltending from Fuhr, and losing the Game 2 6-1 in a brawl-filled contest. In Game 3 in Edmonton, the Oilers were trailing 2-1 in the second period when Mark Messier tied the game on a 1-on-2 rush. That goal changed the momentum in favour of the Oilers, and they stormed the Islanders 7-2. Game 4 was another 7-2 blowout. Gretzky finally tallied a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals, scoring the first and last goals of the game. Game 5 was another memorable performance by Gretzky as he notched the first two 2 goals and an assist, and the Oilers sealed their first Stanley Cup championship on an empty-net goal by Dave Lumley. Northlands Coliseum erupted at the final horn as the Oilers won the Cup on home ice, becoming the first team from Western Canada to win the Cup since the NHL gained defacto possession of the trophy in 1926. Mark Messier was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.  The Oilers were showered with more honours at season's end. Gretzky won the Hart, Art Ross, Plus-Minus and Lester B. Pearson Award. Gretzky also made the First All-Star Team at centre, and Messier, Coffey, and Kurri were named to the Second Team.
Eight Oilers were selected to compete for Canada at the 1984 Canada Cup. As a result, the Oilers were not as overwhelming in the 1984-85 season as they had been in the previous year. The team did not push as hard in the regular season, trying to stay as fresh as possible, and Sather even took a week's vacation to Hawaii in the middle of the season. . Still, the Oilers finished second overall in the NHL with 49 wins and 109 points, four behind the Philadelphia Flyers. Gretzky scored the 1,000th point of his career in only his 424th game en route to a league-leading 73 goal, 208 point season. Kurri also topped the 70 goal plateau, finishing with 71 goals and 135 points. Paul Coffey had his second straight 120 point season, finishing with 37 goals and 121 points.
In the playoffs, the Oilers swept the Kings in 3 games in the opening round, and the Jets in the division finals. The team met Chicago in the Campbell Conference Finals, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead and extending their playoff win streak to 9 games. Chicago, stressing physical and agitating play to slow the Oilers' attack, tied the series on home ice before the Oilers won the last two games to finish the series in six. The Oilers scored 44 goals against the Black Hawks, an NHL record for one team in a single playoff series that still stands. Edmonton repeated as Stanley Cup champions in 1985, overpowering Philadelphia in five games. Kurri tied Reggie Leach's record for goals in one playoff year with 19. Coffey set a new record for playoff points in a season by a defenceman with 37, but it was Gretzky with the highest numbers of all, scoring a playoff record 47 points and registering a staggering +28 in only 18 playoff games. For his efforts Gretzky was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, but Coffey and Fuhr were also considered strong candidates. The Oilers collected more trophies at season's end: Gretzky won his 6th consecutive Hart Trophy, his 5th consecutive Art Ross Trophy, the Plus Minus Award, and the Lester B. Pearson Award. Jari Kurri won the Lady Byng Trophy, and Paul Coffey captured the first Norris Trophy of his career. Gretzky, Kurri and Coffey were all named to the NHL's First All-Star Team.
The Oilers were indeed a juggernaut that the entire NHL feared, but the off-ice antics of some players began tarnishing the team's image by the time the 1985-86 season got underway. In June 1985, Dave Hunter was charged with impaired driving. He was later convicted in February 1986 and sentenced to one week in jail, which he served in the middle of the season. Then on September 6, 1985, Mark Messier lost control of his Porsche and totalled it by hitting three parked cars. He was later charged with hit and run and careless driving, for which he paid a fine. . In addition, the Oilers acquired Craig MacTavish, a talented defensive centre from Boston, who had just served a year in jail for vehicular homicide. In spite of the distractions the Oilers were again the top team in the NHL during the regular season, with 56 wins and 119 points. They won the inaugural Presidents' Trophy, the trophy given to the team with the best regular-season record. Gretzky set a new league record for points with 215, and amassed a new league record 163 assists. (At that time, no player had scored that many points in a season. The only player who has done it since is Mario Lemieux.) Jari Kurri led the NHL in goals with 68, finishing with 131 points, and Paul Coffey set a new record for goals by a defenceman with 48. He finished with 138 points, one point behind the all-time record for defencemen set by Bobby Orr. Additionally, the Oilers matched a record they set in 1983-84 with 3 players who scored more than 50 goals: Kurri (68), Glenn Anderson (54), and Gretzky (52).
The Oilers overpowered Vancouver in the divisional semi-finals, sweeping the series 3-0 and outscoring the Canucks 17-5. The Oilers faced their most bitter rival in the division finals, the Calgary Flames. In a physical and sometimes dirty series, in which Flames' enforcer Nick Fotiu actually tried to climb into the Oilers' bench to get at Glen Sather, the Oilers and Flames fought a classic series through the first 6 games, with the deciding game to be played April 30, 1986 at Northlands Coliseum. Shockingly, the Oilers' bid for a third straight championship—"three-peat"—came to an end. In the third period of a 2–2 tie, on his 23rd birthday, rookie defenceman Steve Smith banked his breakout pass off goaltender Grant Fuhr's left skate and into the Oilers' net. Despite a late flurry the Oilers were unable to tie the score, and the own goal stood as the game-and-series-winning goal. After the season, the Oilers' players again won several awards: Wayne Gretzky won his seventh straight Hart Trophy, along with his sixth straight scoring title. Paul Coffey won his second consecutive Norris Trophy, and Glen Sather took home the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's Coach of the Year. Gretzky and Coffey were named to the First All-Star Team, and Kurri was named to the Second All-Star Team.
In the May 12, 1986 issue of Sports Illustrated, an article was published alleging more problems with the off-ice activities of the Oilers. The article, written by Armen Keteyian and Donald Ramsay, suggested that five team members had "substantial" cocaine problems. Citing sources from around the league and from the RCMP's Edmonton Drug Unit, alleges rampant drug use within the team, a high-pressure citywide environment that put immense pressure on players, and a culture of ensuring the players' drinking problems remained under wraps. The financial problems of certain players were also brought up, most notably those of Grant Fuhr. The Hockey News ran a responding article in which Sather called the allegations innuendo. NHL President John Ziegler and NHLPA President Alan Eagleson dismissed the story as McCarthyism. . Sports Illustrated stood by its story; suddenly, the Oilers' organization had an image problem to fight. After already being tarnished by the Messier and Hunter episodes in the last year, they were now widely suspected of rampant drug use. It was at this point that Edmontonians became noticeably less enthused with the Oilers, and in spite of having one of the most powerful teams in NHL history, interest in the team began to decline.
The 1986–87 season saw the Oilers come together as a team, determined to recapture the Stanley Cup. Except for a poor record against the Flames, Edmonton again dominated the regular season, finishing first overall with 50 wins and 106 points, six points ahead of second-place Philadelphia. The team captured its second consecutive Presidents' Trophy, and last to date. Wayne Gretzky (62 goals and 183 points) and Jari Kurri (54 goals and 108 points) finished first and second in the NHL scoring race. Mark Messier (37 goals and 107 points) finished fourth. Paul Coffey missed 21 games with injuries but still managed 67 points. The season was notable for the deteriorating relationship between Coffey and Head Coach Glen Sather. The relationship was laced with antagonism for most of the season, and Coffey believed he was the victim of a double-standard in treatment of the players. At the 1987 NHL trade deadline, the Oilers acquired Kent Nilsson for a second round draft pick in 1988, which solidified Edmonton's top two lines in time for the playoffs.
In the opening round of the playoffs, the Oilers lost their first game to Los Angeles before winning the next four straight. Game Two saw the Oilers establish a new NHL record for playoff goals in a single game with 13. The Oilers faced the Winnipeg Jets in the Smythe Division Finals, and Grant Fuhr was the big star in what became an Edmonton sweep. In the conference finals against the Detroit Red Wings, the Oilers again lost the first game on home ice before rebounding to win the next four. Edmonton returned to the Stanley Cup Final and faced the same opponent as they had in 1985, the Philadelphia Flyers. Though the Oilers dominated the territorial play and shot counts in the series, the goaltending of Flyers' rookie Ron Hextall brought the Flyers back from a 3-1 series deficit and set up a decisive Game Seven at Northlands Coliseum. In the seventh game the Oilers fired 43 shots at Hextall: Oiler stars Messier, Kurri, and Anderson were able to solve Hextall for a goal apiece, and for perhaps the first time in franchise history, the Oilers clamped down on defence; the more mature Edmonton squad held the Flyers to just two shots in the third period, and a total of 20 in the game, 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. Gretzky led the playoffs in scoring with 34 points and Kurri led in goals with 15. However, the Conn Smythe Trophy was awarded to the Flyers' Hextall: it was only the second time in NHL history that the Conn Smythe Trophy was awarded to a player on the losing side. The Oilers again collected several awards after the season. Gretzky claimed his eighth Hart Trophy as most valuable player in only his eighth year in the NHL, along with his seventh straight Art Ross Trophy. Gretzky also captured the 5th and final Lester B. Pearson award of his career, along with his third career Plus-Minus Award. Gretzky and Kurri were named to the NHL's First All-Star Team.
Seven Oilers (five for Canada, two for Finland) took part in the 1987 Canada Cup. When training camps for the 1987–88 season opened, several Oilers' players were MIA. Mark Messier missed all of training camp while his contract was renegotiated. Glenn Anderson failed to report until the season started, and Paul Coffey did not report at all, unhappy with both his contract and his treatment by the club. Mike Krushelnyski was unhappy with his ice-time and skipped training camp. Kent Nilsson and Reijo Ruotsalainen both decided to play the season in Europe. Andy Moog also refused to report: he no longer wanted to play backup to Grant Fuhr and instead joined the Canadian Olympic Team.  He was later joined by Randy Gregg. Eventually, Sather dealt away the first of his great players. Paul Coffey was the centrepiece of a multi-player deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Among the players Edmonton received in return was young left-winger Craig Simpson, who was brought in to play alongside Messier and Anderson. Simpson finished the season with 56 goals, the second-highest total in the league. Eventually, Andy Moog was dealt to Boston for speedy winger Geoff Courtnall and promising young goalie Bill Ranford. Without Coffey's offence on the point, and missing Gretzky for 16 games during the season with injury, and perhaps continuing the Canada Cup trend from 1985, the Oilers' regular season was not an impressive one by their standards. Wayne Gretzky lost the scoring title outright for the first time in his career, finishing with 149 points to Mario Lemieux's 168. (Gretzky's points-per-game average was still higher than Lemieux's, however.) In addition, the Oilers' drive for a seventh consecutive Smythe Division title was stymied, and they were dethroned by their provincial rivals, the Flames, who also won the Presidents' Trophy. The Oilers finished the season with 44 wins and 99 points, good for 3rd place overall in the NHL. For the first time in six years, the Oilers did not score the most goals in the league. They amassed 363 goals, second to the Flames' 397. One bright spot on the team, however, was the play of Grant Fuhr. He started a league-record 75 games, posting a team-record 40 wins. Mark Messier placed seventh in the league scoring race with 37 goals and 111 points.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers dispatched of the third place Winnipeg Jets in five games. Next up was a looming showdown with Calgary, and hockey experts almost unanimously predicted a Flames' victory. However, the series became an Edmonton sweep, with Gretzky notching his second career playoff overtime winner in Game Two.  In the Campbell Conference Finals against Detroit, the Oilers again prevailed in five games, matching their total from the previous year. In the final series against the Boston Bruins, Gretzky turned in a virtuoso performance: he set a new NHL record for points in the Stanley Cup Finals with 13, and the Oilers swept the Bruins 4-0. 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 hit the Boston Garden, forcing cancellation of the whole game. 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, and capture the team's fourth Stanley Cup in five years. All player statistics accrued in the aborted Game Four in Boston are counted in the NHL record books. Wayne Gretzky led all playoff scorers with 43 points, including a league-record 31 assists, in 19 games. For his efforts, he was awarded the second Conn Smythe Trophy of his career. 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. After the season, Fuhr was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender. Fuhr was also selected to the first All-Star Team, and Gretzky was selected to the Second All-Star Team.
The 1988 Oilers team established a record in the modern Stanley Cup era with a playoffs win percentage of .889. In addition, a Sporting News poll conducted in February 2006 listed the 1988 team as one of the top five professional sports teams of the past 120 years. .
1988 Off-Season: "The Trade"
During the 1988 offseason, rumours swirled around the Oilers that Gretzky was going to be traded prior to the start of the next season. On August 9, 1988, Oilers fans awoke to a shocker: Gretzky, along with enforcer Marty McSorley and centre Mike Krushelnyski, were traded to Los Angeles. In exchange, the Oilers received $15 million US cash, young star Jimmy Carson, 1988 first round draft choice Martin Gelinas, and the Kings' first round draft picks in 1989, 1991, and 1993. Pocklington's image took an incredible tumble after the trade: he was burned in effigy in Edmonton, and the federal New Democratic Party asked the government to act and block the trade. 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. Rucinsky went on to a respectable NHL career after being dealt to the Quebec Nordiques, and Stajduhar only played two games in the NHL.
Gretzky's departure from the Oilers was acrimonious: he had asked the Oilers to renegotiate his contract in 1987, and he converted his personal-services contract with Pocklington into a standard five-year player's contract with the Oilers in the summer of 1987. According to the ESPN 30 for 30 series, Gretzky had the option to declare himself an unrestricted free agent after the 1988-89 season. This meant he could opt out of the last three years of his contract, and, according to Gretzky, he would be allowed to sign with the highest bidder for his services with no compensation to the Oilers. Pocklington allowed Los Angeles owner Bruce McNall to contact Gretzky on his honeymoon to see if he was interested in relocating to Southern California. During the 1988 season, Pocklington approached Gretzky about renegotiating the contract, knowing if Gretzky went to free agency he would be unable to match offers from richer teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers. Pocklington told Gretzky it could mean his departure from the team, but Gretzky, unwilling to give up his chance at free agency, refused to blink, which ultimately led to the trade. None of this was public knowledge at the time, but Pocklington didn't want to risk Gretzky leaving town without getting anything in return.
The trade was viewed as disastrous for the Oilers. Several of the Oilers considered launching a teamwide strike, and even considered demanding that Pocklington sell the team.  Since the trade was announced after the Oilers' season ticket drive for 1988-89 closed, attendance was not impacted in the first season after Gretzky's departure, but would noticeably decline in subsequent seasons.
The 1988–89 season was tumultuous in Edmonton. Mark Messier was chosen to succeed Gretzky as captain. The Oilers plummeted in the standings, finishing with 38 wins and 84 points. They finished 3rd in the Smythe Division, behind the juggernaut Calgary Flames and the reborn Los Angeles Kings, led by Gretzky. In February, the Oilers acquired enforcer Dave Brown from Philadelphia, a move that made the Oilers a more fearsome team physically. Jari Kurri led the team with 44 goals and 58 assists for 102 points, proving his worth as an offensive player without Gretzky. Carson, acquired in the Gretzky trade, led the team with 49 goals and was the only other Oiler to hit the 100-point plateau. Messier led the team in assists with 61, and defenceman Craig Muni led the team in plus-minus with a +43.
Ironically, the Oilers' first round opponent was Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings. The eyes of the hockey world focused on this match-up as Edmonton took a commanding 3-1 series lead. But Gretzky and the Kings fought back to force Game Seven, which culminated with the Oilers losing 6-3 in Los Angeles. It was the first time since 1982 that the Oilers had been eliminated after only one round. Messier led the team in playoff scoring with 12 points in 7 games. Further proving his critics wrong, Kurri was selected to the Second All-Star Team at the end of the season.
Following the 1989 season, Glen Sather stepped down as head coach. He remained on as president and general manager, turning the coaching duties over to longtime assistant John Muckler. During training camp for the 1989–90 season, Grant Fuhr came down with a severe case of appendicitis. He missed the first ten games of the season, and when he returned he suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. This marked the emergence of Bill Ranford as a starter. Four games into the season, Jimmy Carson decided the pressure of playing in Edmonton was too intense and walked out on the team. Sather dealt Carson to Detroit, his home town, for Petr Klima, Adam Graves, Joe Murphy, and Jeff Sharples. (Sharples would later be traded to New Jersey to re-acquire Reijo Ruotsalainen.) The trade allowed the Oilers to form a modern-day version of the "Kid Line", with Graves at centre, Murphy on right wing, and Martin Gelinas on left wing. The season was up and down for the Oilers: they improved on their previous season, finishing with 38 wins and 90 points, good for 5th place overall in the NHL. The season is notable for the emergence of Mark Messier as an acknowledged elite player: he led the team with 45 goals and 84 assists for 129 points, finishing second in the NHL scoring race. Randy Gregg led the team with a +24, despite only playing 48 games.
In the first round, the Oilers faced the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets proved gritty and hungry and took a big lead in the series. Trailing the series 3-1 and trailing Game Five by the identical score, the Oilers miraculously rallied to force Game Six at the Winnipeg Arena, where Kurri scored the game winner in front of a hostile Winnipeg crowd. Game Seven was won by the Oilers, 4-1. In the division finals, the Oilers met the Los Angeles Kings for the second straight season. The result would be different than in 1989, however, as Edmonton swept the series 4-0, outscoring Los Angeles 22-10. The Oilers met the Chicago Blackhawks in the Campbell Conference Finals and fell behind 2-1 in the series. In Game Four at Chicago Stadium, Mark Messier ran roughshod all over the Blackhawks, slashing, elbowing and throwing thunderous checks. Messier finished the game with 2 goals and one assist in a 4-2 Edmonton victory, and his performance has been called "one of the most terrifying one-man-wrecking-crew performances in hockey history." The Oilers tied the series and won the next two games, winning the series and setting up a rematch of the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals with Boston. This series will be remembered for the outstanding goaltending of Bill Ranford, and for Game One of the series which still stands as the longest Stanley Cup Finals game played in the modern NHL. Despite being soundly outshot by the Bruins, the Oilers won the game 3-2 when Petr Klima scored on a wrist shot from the right-side boards at 15:13 of the third overtime. In Game Two the Oilers were outshot 10-2 in the first period, but Ranford held tough and the Oilers led 2-1. Then Jari Kurri took over: on his 30th birthday, Kurri scored 3 goals and 2 assists in what became a 7-2 Edmonton win. In Game Three at Northlands Coliseum, the Bruins set a new NHL record by scoring ten seconds into a Stanley Cup Finals game, and never looked back in cruising to a 2-1 victory. Game Four was dominated by the Oilers' top line of Messier, Anderson and Simpson, as the trio accounted for 4 goals and 11 points in a 5-1 Edmonton victory. Game Five at the Boston Garden saw Bill Ranford stop 29 of 30 shots, and Glenn Anderson score a goal and an assist in leading the Oilers to a 4-1 win. The team had captured its fifth Stanley Cup championship in seven seasons. For his superlative goaltending, Bill Ranford was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, but Esa Tikkanen, Kurri and Messier were all strong candidates. Simpson led the playoffs in goals with 16, and he and Messier shared the points lead with 31. The Oilers again collected multiple awards after the season. Kevin Lowe won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his charity work in Edmonton, and Mark Messier won the first Hart Trophy of his career. Messier's closest competition for the award was Boston's Raymond Bourque, and he edged Bourque in voting by a single first-place vote. Further proving he had stepped out of the shadow of Wayne Gretzky, Messier was selected to the First All-Star Team.
In all, seven players were a member of every Edmonton Stanley Cup team: Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Kevin Lowe, Randy Gregg, Charlie Huddy, and Grant Fuhr. The Oilers' record during this time period was 332-166-62(.648), and their record in the playoffs was 87-28(.757).
Transitional years (1990–1992)
The trade of Wayne Gretzky, and the immediate salary increase he got in Los Angeles, led to a far greater awareness of money matters among players. That, combined with the NHLPA's decision to fully disclose salaries of every player in the league, led to a new reality of rapidly climbing salaries in the NHL. This reality began to assert itself over Edmonton in the summer of 1990. Mark Messier, after winning the Hart Trophy the previous season, sought to have his contract renegotiated. Messier wanted his salary doubled from his current $1.1 million annually to around $2 million per season, putting him ahead of everyone in the league with the exception of Gretzky and Lemieux. Messier was actually under contract to the Oilers until 1993: still, this did not stop his agent and father, Doug Messier, from pressing Sather for a new deal. Jari Kurri, unhappy with the Oilers' offer, did not report to training camp: he chose instead to play the entire season with HC Milano Devils in Italy. Glenn Anderson, who had two more years left on his eight year contract, held out of training camp as well, although he returned once the season started.
Randy Gregg was waived prior to the season starting, and he chose to retire rather than report to the Canucks, the team that claimed him. Grant Fuhr was suspended for the entire season: he admitted in an Edmonton Journal article that he had a long involvement with drugs, and that he had visited a Florida clinic in 1989 for two weeks to clean himself up (Fuhr has stayed off drugs since that visit). Messier was among the most vocal critics of the suspension: he felt it unfair that Fuhr, who sought help on his own for the problem, might have his career ended by the suspension, and that it may prevent other players with similar problems from coming forward and getting help. In mid-season, NHL President John Ziegler announced that Fuhr's suspension had been shortened to sixty games. The season itself was not a great one for the Oilers: they finished with 37 wins and 80 points, good for 3rd place in the Smythe Division. Esa Tikkanen led the team in scoring with 69 points, one ahead of Petr Klima, who led the team with 40 goals. It was the last time to date that an Oilers' player reached the 40 goal plateau. Klima also led the team with a +24. Messier, hobbled by injuries, played only 53 games, but still managed to score 64 points.
In the playoffs, the Oilers met the Flames in the opening round. This series is viewed by many as the greatest Stanley Cup playoff series ever played. The teams split the first two games in Calgary, during which Messier flattened Calgary defenceman Ric Nattress with a vicious elbow. Games Three and Four, in Edmonton, were both won by the Oilers. Game Four, a 5-2 Edmonton win, is remembered for the viciousness of a brawl near the end of the game, where Dave Brown, in a fight with Flame Jim Kyte, tried to pummel Kyte into the ice. The Oilers returned to Calgary with a 3-1 series lead, but the Flames fought back to force Game Six, which was won by Calgary in overtime on a goal by Theoren Fleury. The Flames jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game Seven, and the Oilers called an early timeout, during which Tikkanen chewed out the entire bench. Inspired by the speech, Edmonton fought back, and ended up winning 5-4 in overtime on a wrist-shot from Tikkanen on his off-wing. It was Tikkanen's third goal of the game, and 7th of the series. The Oilers had suffered several injuries in the series with Calgary, and they met Los Angeles in the next round. The first three games of the series were all decided in overtime, and the Oilers held a 3-2 series lead heading into Game Six at Northlands Coliseum. The Oilers again won in overtime, on the heroics of Craig MacTavish. In the Campbell Conference Finals against Minnesota, the Oilers ran out of gas: after splitting the first two games in Edmonton, the North Stars won both games on home ice: the Stars repeatedly slashed Messier on his injured hand, though no penalties were called. Game Five in Edmonton was close, but the Stars prevailed, 3-2, to win the series 4-1 and go to the Stanley Cup Finals. Tikkanen led the team in scoring in the playoffs with 10 goals and 20 points. First-year Oilers Anatoli Semenov and Norm Maciver proved to be revelations in the playoffs. Semenov finished with 10 points in 12 playoff games, and Maciver led the team with a +10 in 18 playoff games.
1991 Off-Season: Mass Exodus
Four Oilers (3 for Canada, 1 for Finland) took part in the 1991 Canada Cup. But the tournament was overshadowed by news reports that the Oilers were going to break up the remainder of their championship core. Rumours surfaced that both Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson were on the trade block, and Adam Graves signed an offer sheet from the New York Rangers, which Glen Sather chose not to match: the Oilers were awarded Rangers' enforcer Troy Mallette as compensation. (Graves went on to become a 50 goal scorer in New York, while Mallette only played 15 games in Edmonton.) Tikkanen was apoplectic, and Messier, upset that the Oilers were willing to let Graves walk, issued a public trade demand during the Canada Cup tournament, saying that if the Oilers were not willing to do what was necessary to keep important players, then he did not want to be there either. (Graves never scored more than nine goals in a season in Edmonton. Sather lamented in 1994 that if he knew how Graves would turn out, he would never have let him walk.)
John Muckler resigned to become head coach and general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. Assistant Coach Ted Green was promoted to Head Coach. When the Canada Cup ended, the Oilers again had several no-shows for training camp. Tikkanen went home to Finland: after his great playoff, he demanded a renegotiated contract worth $1 million per season. Anderson stayed out, trying to either force a huge raise or get out of town. Craig Simpson stayed out, also negotiating a new contract. Grant Fuhr showed up to training camp, although it was publicly acknowledged that he was available in trade offers. Partway through training camp, Fuhr and Anderson were traded to Toronto for Vincent Damphousse, Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton, and Peter Ing. Then Steve Smith, also asking for a hefty raise, was dealt to Chicago for Dave Manson. The Oilers acquired Scott Mellanby from Philadelphia for Dave Brown, who asked to be traded back to the Flyers, and the rights to Jari Kurri, who was subsequently dealt to Los Angeles. Charlie Huddy was left exposed in the waiver draft, and was claimed by Minnesota. He, too, was immediately dealt to Los Angeles.
Messier stayed at his off-season home in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina awaiting a trade. (Messier, a native Edmontonian, had actually been spending his offseasons in South Carolina for some time.) The five main teams in the bidding war to land Messier were the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit. Detroit dropped out of the race when Sather insisted that Steve Yzerman had to be part of any deal for Messier, and Philadelphia dropped out because they did not want to trade Mike Ricci. Finally, one day after the season began, Messier was dealt to the New York Rangers for Bernie Nicholls, Steven Rice, Louie DeBrusk, future considerations, and $5 million US. (Part of Messier's desire to move to a new team was his desire to make more money than Edmonton could offer. Foreshadowing the financial issues Edmonton would face for the rest of the decade, Messier went from being paid $1.1 million CDN a season in Edmonton to an average of $2.6 million US a season in New York.) Because of the cash the Oilers received in the Messier trade, the view of people in Edmonton was that it was Pocklington again selling off the team's best players to pocket cash for himself. A month into the season, defenceman Jeff Beukeboom was also dealt to the Rangers, to complete the future considerations of the Messier deal, for defenceman David Shaw. Shaw was traded to Minnesota later that season for Brian Glynn.
Kevin Lowe was selected to succeed Messier as captain. Simpson eventually agreed to a one-year contract to stay in Edmonton. Tikkanen was at an impasse, as Sather refused to budge on his salary demands, until Peter Pocklington actually got Tikkanen's home number in Finland from a CFRN sports reporter, personally called Tikkanen and negotiated a new $1 million per season contract. Bill Ranford played the entire season while renegotiating his contract, and by season's end he too had a new contract worth $1 million per season. Despite the staggering amount of turnover, the Oilers actually produced a comparable season to 1990-91, finishing 3rd in the Smythe Division with 36 wins and 82 points. The Oilers were led by a new first line of Damphousse, Nicholls, and Murphy: Damphousse led the team with 38 goals and 89 points. Norm Maciver led the team in plus-minus with a +20, also chipping in 40 points despite only playing 57 games. The Oilers' offence was balanced, with eight players scoring at least 20 goals. The most surprising 20 goal scorer was fourth-line checker Kelly Buchberger.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers again met the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings now boasted five team members who had played on the Oilers' championship team of 1987 (Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Marty McSorley, and Charlie Huddy) in an attempt to re-create the Oilers' success. Stressing disciplined play, the Oilers split the first four games with the Kings before Tikkanen's hat trick in Game Five put the Oilers ahead 3-2. Game Six in Edmonton was a 3-0 shutout win for the Oilers, as the high-powered Kings were sent packing. Since the Gretzky trade, the Oilers had now met the Kings four times in the playoffs: the Oilers had won 3 of the 4 series, with a head to head record of 15-8. Next up was the division champion Vancouver Canucks; the Oilers split the first two games at the Pacific Coliseum, then returned to Edmonton and won both games on home ice. Game Five was a Vancouver victory, but the Oilers returned home and won Game Six, again by a 3-0 score. The upstart Oilers were back in the Campbell Conference Finals for the third straight season, facing the Chicago Blackhawks. However, their unexpected run in the playoffs came to a crashing halt, as the Blackhawks dominated every game and swept the series 4-0. Stressing defence, Chicago stymied the Edmonton powerplay, which went 0-for-19. These playoffs were viewed as a coming-out party for Joe Murphy, as he led the team with 24 points in 16 playoff games.
Rebuilding years (1992–2004)
By this time, the animosity toward the Oilers in the city of Edmonton was no longer deniable. Due to lingering bitterness over the Gretzky trade, attendance had been on the decline for several years, from an average of 17,503 (arena capacity) in 1988-89 to 16,179 by 1991-92. By 1991-92, sellouts were rare, even in the playoffs. The Messier trade further exasperated the fan base, and by the summer of 1992, the season-ticket base had dwindled to under 9,000, and for the first time, talk surfaced that the Oilers might leave town.
Also, by this time, the financial discrepancies facing the Oilers versus the richer NHL clubs began to manifest themselves. Although Edmonton's fan base is loyal, Edmonton has always been one of the smallest markets in the league. In addition, for many years Edmonton lacked a strong business community capable of supporting the Oilers that other NHL cities possessed. (Part of the reason for this is that due to being the provincial capital, there was never a need to develop a business community in Edmonton the same way a city like Calgary developed. It was not until many years later that Edmonton began to make its corporate and financial community a priority.) The fact that the Oilers paid salaries in Canadian dollars, whereas American teams paid in more valuable US dollars, was also a disadvantage, particularly as free agency came into the NHL. In addition, Pocklington's business empire sank under the weight of recession, scandal, and corruption.
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. Five of those players--Gretzky(1), Messier(12), Coffey(29), Kurri(50) and Fuhr(70) would make the list of the 100 greatest hockey players in the history of the NHL, published in 1998 by The Hockey News.
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 mentioned above, the Oilers still had enough heft to make the conference finals two years in a row. 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 Houston 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.
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 Stadium 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 Place. 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 (until 2010) had not been revived in any form.
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 Vancouver. 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.
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.
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–Madison, 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 KHL. Marian Hossa accepted a lesser offer to play for the 2008-09 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.
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.
Other highlights include:
- June 27, 2006: The Oilers' long-planned push to also own an expansion major-junior franchise in the Western Hockey League was granted. The Edmonton Oil Kings would begin play, in the 2007–08 WHL season.
- 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.
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.
- On 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 Place" 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.
Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson set an NHL record for being the oldest goaltender to play 60 games in a season. However, the Oilers failed to qualify for the 2009 Postseason.
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 MacTavish 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.
Edmonton drafted the highly touted Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, as the 10th overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The Oilers then traded fan-favourite Kyle Brodziak to the Minnesota Wild for another two draft picks in the 2009 Draft, which were used to draft Kyle Bigos and Olivier Roy.
The Oilers headed into the Free Agency with two key Free Agents in Dwayne Roloson and Ales Kotalik. Edmonton let both Roloson and Kotalik walk, and they subsequently signed replacements, in the form of veteran goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and a former Oiler, centre Mike Comrie. Khabibulin signed a 4yr/$15 million contract, whilst Comrie signed a 1yr/$1.125 million contract. While the Oilers made these transactions, their 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 defenceman Ladislav Smid. However, Heatley would refuse to be dealt to Edmonton (as per the stipulation of his contract), and would be later traded to the San Jose Sharks.
The 2009–10 season did not bring welcoming thoughts to Oilers fans, as Edmonton ended the season with one of the worst records in franchise history: finishing dead last at 30th place, with a total of 62 points. The Oilers' campaign was blighted by long-term injuries to key players, notably starting goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin and winger Ales Hemsky (amongst others). The Oilers recorded a total of 530 in current man games lost, a new (albeit un-wanted) franchise record high.
Dustin Penner emerged as the leading point scorer (63), recording career highs in all offensive categories. Penner was one of three Oilers that played in all 82 games of the 2009–10 season.
- On February 9, 2010, the Oilers announced that the American Hockey League Board of Governors had approved of the relocation of the Oilers' inactive AHL franchise to Oklahoma City, to begin play in the 2010-11 AHL season. After a lengthy fan competition to decide on the team name, they were finally named the Oklahoma City Barons on May 20, 2010.
On June 22, 2010, the Oilers announced that Tom Renney was to be their Head Coach for the upcoming 2010–11 season, with Pat Quinn taking an upstairs role, as Senior Hockey Advisor.
On June 25, 2010, the Oilers made their first ever first overall draft selection the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Two forwards led the pack of young players as the potential first overall draft pick, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. Oilers' staff kept the secret of who they were selecting all the way up until the official announcement was made. The Oilers selected Taylor Hall, ending the drawn out debate that earned the nickname, "Taylor or Tyler?"
- 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. Both found in the Northwest Division, their 6 match-ups a season often carry with them playoff implications.
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.
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."
When it came time for the league to move to the Adidas Adizero uniform system, the Oilers made their new home uniforms orange. Also, the blue returns to the navy blue shade the team used from 1995-2012.
They also have an alternate jersey that is Mainly Navy blue, with orange accents and no white on the jersey at all.
The Edmonton Oilers Play at Rogers Place, Rogers Place is a multi-use indoor arena in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Construction started in March 2014, and the building officially opened on September 8, 2016. The arena has a seating capacity of 18,500 as a hockey venue and 20,734 as a concert venue.(Via Wikipedia)
The Edmonton Oilers formerly played at 16,839 capacity Rexall Place, previously known as the Edmonton Coliseum, Northlands Coliseum, and Skyreach Centre. They have played at the arena since it opened in 1974 until the 2016 season. 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 Gardens. New Oilers owner Daryl Katz has 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.
- Jack Michaels radio play-by-play
- Bob Stauffer radio colour commentator
- Kevin Quinn TV play-by-play
- Louie DeBrusk primary TV colour commentator
- Drew Remenda substitute TV colour commentator
On May 28, 2010 Rod Phillips announced his retirement from hockey broadcasting. It was revealed that Phillips would stay behind to call 10 more games in the 2010-11 NHL season. These games will be called "Rod's Classics." Rod Phillips' career has spanned 37 years with the Edmonton Oilers and his work has seen him enter the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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 have a mascot named Hunter, a Lynx that joined the team when they moved into Rogers Place. He is notable for showing off his 'Six Pack" and leading chants using a handheld drum with the Oilers logo during home games.
The Oilers are the last WHA team from the NHL-WHA merger to remain in their original city.
Season by Season
|Avco World Trophy champions||Division or regular season Champions||League Leader|
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|1972–73||1972–73||78||38||37||3||79||269||256||1134||4th, West||Did not qualify|||
|1973–74||1973–74||78||38||37||3||79||268||269||1273||3rd, West||Lost in Preliminary Round, 1–4 (Fighting Saints)|||
|1974–75||1974–75||78||36||38||4||76||279||279||896||5th, Canadian||Did not qualify|||
|1975–76||1975–76||81||27||49||5||59||268||345||991||4th, Canadian||Lost in Quarterfinals, 0–4 (Jets)|||
|1976–77||1976–77||81||34||43||4||72||243||304||1319||4th, West||Lost in Quarterfinals, 1–4 (Aeros)|||
|1977–78||1977–78||80||38||39||3||79||309||307||1296||5th, WHA||Lost in Preliminary Round, 1–4 (Whalers)|||
|1978–79||1978–79||80||48||30||2||98||340||266||1220||1st, WHA||Won in Semifinals, 4–3 (Whalers)|
Lost in Finals, 2–4 (Jets)
|Playoffs||32||9||23||All-time series record: 1–5|
|Stanley Cup Champions||Conference Champions||Division Champions||League Leader|
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses/Shootout Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
|1979–80||1979–80||80||28||39||13||-||69||301||322||4th, Smythe||Lost in Preliminary Round, 0–3 (Flyers)|||
|1980–81||1980–81||80||29||35||16||-||74||328||327||4th, Smythe||Won in Preliminary Round, 3–0 (Canadiens)
Lost in Quarterfinals, 2–4 (Islanders)
|1981–82||1981–82||80||48||17||15||-||111||417||295||1st, Smythe||Lost in Division Semifinals, 2–3 (Kings)|||
|1982–83||1982–83||80||47||21||12||-||106||424||315||1st, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 3–0 (Jets)
Won in Division Finals, 4–1 (Flames)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–0 (Black Hawks)
Lost in Finals, 0–4 (Islanders)
|1983–84||1983–84||80||57||18||5||-||119||446||314||1st, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 3–0 (Jets)
Won in Division Finals, 4–3 (Flames)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–0 (North Stars)
Stanley Cup Champions, 4–1 (Islanders)
|1984–85||1984–85||80||49||20||11||-||109||401||298||1st, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 3–0 (Kings)
Won in Division Finals, 4–0 (Jets)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–2 (Black Hawks)
Stanley Cup Champions, 4–1 (Flyers)
|1985–86||1985–86||80||56||17||7||-||119||426||310||1st, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 3–0 (Canucks)
Lost in Division Finals, 3–4 (Flames)
|1986–87||1986–87||80||50||24||6||-||106||372||284||1st, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 4–1 (Kings)
Won in Division Finals, 4–0 (Jets)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–1 (Red Wings)
Stanley Cup Champions, 4–3 (Flyers)
|1987–88||1987–88||80||44||25||11||-||99||363||288||2nd, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 4–1 (Jets)
Won in Division Finals, 4–0 (Flames)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–1 (Red Wings)
Stanley Cup Champions, 4–0 (Bruins)
|1988–89||1988–89||80||38||34||8||-||84||325||306||3rd, Smythe||Lost in Division Semifinals, 3–4 (Kings)|||
|1989–90||1989–90||80||38||28||14||-||90||315||283||2nd, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 4–3 (Jets)
Won in Division Finals, 4–0 (Kings)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–2 (Blackhawks)
Stanley Cup Champions, 4–1 (Bruins)
|1990–91||1990–91||80||37||37||6||-||80||272||272||3rd, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 4–3 (Flames)
Won in Division Finals, 4–2 (Kings)
Lost in Conference Finals, 1–4 (North Stars)
|1991–92||1991–92||80||36||34||10||-||82||295||297||3rd, Smythe||Won in Division Semifinals, 4–2 (Kings)
Won in Division Finals, 4–2 (Canucks)
Lost in Conference Finals, 0–4 (Blackhawks)
|1992–93||1992–93||84||26||50||8||-||60||242||337||5th, Smythe||Did not qualify|||
|1993–94||1993–94||84||25||45||14||-||64||261||305||6th, Pacific||Did not qualify|||
|1994–951||1994–95||48||17||27||4||-||38||136||183||5th, Pacific||Did not qualify|||
|1995–96||1995–96||82||30||44||8||-||68||240||304||5th, Pacific||Did not qualify|||
|1996–97||1996–97||82||36||37||9||-||81||252||247||3rd, Pacific||Won in Conference Quarterfinals, 4–3 (Stars)
Lost in Conference Semifinals, 1–4 (Avalanche)
|1997–98||1997–98||82||35||37||10||-||80||215||224||3rd, Pacific||Won in Conference Quarterfinals, 4–3 (Avalanche)
Lost in Conference Semifinals, 1–4 (Stars)
|1998–99||1998–99||82||33||37||12||-||78||230||226||2nd, Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 0–4 (Stars)|||
|1999–2000||1999–2000||82||32||26||16||8||88||226||212||2nd, Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1–4 (Stars)|||
|2000–01||2000–01||82||39||28||12||3||93||243||222||2nd, Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 2–4 (Stars)|||
|2001–02||2001–02||82||38||28||12||4||92||205||182||3rd, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2002–03||2002–03||82||36||26||11||9||92||231||230||4th, Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 2–4 (Stars)|||
|2003–04||2003–04||82||36||29||12||5||89||221||208||4th, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2004–05||2004–05||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||Season cancelled due to 2004–05 NHL Lockout|
|2005–06||2005–06||82||41||28||-||13||95||256||251||3rd, Northwest||Won in Conference Quarterfinals, 4–2 (Red Wings)
Won in Conference Semifinals, 4–2 (Sharks)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–1 (Mighty Ducks)
Lost in Finals, 3–4 (Hurricanes)
|2006–07||2006–07||82||32||43||-||7||71||195||248||5th, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2007–08||2007–08||82||41||35||-||6||88||235||251||4th, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2008–09||2008–09||82||38||35||-||9||85||234||248||4th, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2009–10||2009–10||82||27||47||-||8||62||214||284||5th, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2010–11||2010–11||82||25||45||-||12||62||193||269||5th, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2011–12||2011–12||82||32||40||-||10||74||212||239||5th, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2012–133||2012–13||48||19||22||-||7||45||125||134||3rd, Northwest||Did not qualify|||
|2013–14||2013–14||82||29||44||-||9||67||203||270||7th, Pacific||Did not qualify|||
|2014–15||2014–15||82||24||44||-||14||62||198||283||6th, Pacific||Did not qualify|||
|2015–16||2015–16||82||31||43||-||8||70||203||245||7th, Pacific||Did not qualify|||
|2016–17||2016–17||82||47||26||-||9||103||247||212||2nd, Pacific||Won in First Round, 4–2 (Sharks)
Lost in Second Round, 3–4 (Ducks)
|2017–18||2017–18||82||36||40||-||6||78||234||263||6th, Pacific||Did not qualify|
|2018–19||2018–19||82||35||38||-||9||79||232||274||7th, Pacific||Did not qualify|
|Reg. season totals||3108||1397||1293||262||156||3212||10368||10262|
|Playoff totals||264||159||105||All-time series record: 35–16|
- 1 Season was shortened due to the 1994–95 NHL lockout.
- 2 As of the 2005–06 NHL season, all regular season games tied after a 5 minute overtime will be decided in a shootout; SOL (Shootout losses) will be recorded as OTL in the standings.
- 3 Season was shortened due to the 2012–2013 NHL lockout.
Updated April 19, 2010.
Hall of Famers
- Glenn Anderson, RW, 1980–91, 1996, inducted 2008
- Paul Coffey, D, 1980–87, inducted 2004
- Grant Fuhr, G, 1981–91, inducted 2003
- Wayne Gretzky, C, 1978–88, inducted 1999
- Jari Kurri, RW, 1980–90, inducted 2001
- Mark Messier, LW, C, 1979–91, inducted 2007
- Jacques Plante, G, 1974–75, inducted 1978
- Norm Ullman, C , 1975–77, inducted 1982
- Roger Neilson, Video Analyst, 1984 Playoffs, inducted 2002
- Glen Sather, Team Captain/Head coach/President/GM, 1976–2000, inducted 1997
- Rod Phillips, 1973–2010, inducted 2003
- 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.
- 1979: Kevin Lowe (21st overall)
- 1980: Paul Coffey (6th overall)
- 1981: Grant Fuhr (8th overall)
- 1982: Jim Playfair (20th overall)
- 1983: Jeff Beukeboom (19th overall)
- 1984: Selmar Odelein (21st overall)
- 1985: Scott Metcalfe (20th overall)
- 1986: Kim Issel (21st overall)
- 1987: Pete Soberlak (21st overall)
- 1988: François Leroux (19th overall)
- 1989: Jason Soules (15th overall)
- 1990: Scott Allison (17th overall)
- 1991: Tyler Wright (12th overall) & Martin Rucinsky (20th overall)
- 1992: Joe Hulbig (13th overall)
- 1993: Jason Arnott (7th overall) & Nick Stajduhar (16th overall)
- 1994: Jason Bonsignore (4th overall) & Ryan Smyth (6th overall)
- 1995: Steve Kelly (6th overall)
- 1996: Boyd Devereaux (6th overall) & Matthieu Descoteaux (19th overall)
- 1997: Michel Riesen (14th overall)
- 1998: Michael Henrich (13th overall)
- 1999: Jani Rita (13th overall)
- 2000: Alexei Mikhnov (17th overall)
- 2001: Ales Hemsky (13th overall)
- 2002: Jesse Niinimäki (15th overall)
- 2003: Marc-Antoine Pouliot (22nd overall)
- 2004: Devan Dubnyk (14th overall) & Rob Schremp (25th overall)
- 2005: Andrew Cogliano (25th overall)
- 2006: None
- 2007: Sam Gagner (6th overall), Alex Plante (15th overall) & Riley Nash (21st overall)
- 2008: Jordan Eberle (22nd overall)
- 2009: Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson (10th overall)
- 2010: Taylor Hall (1st overall)
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
NHL awards and trophies
NHL League Championship*
WHA League Championship
Lester B. Pearson Award (Renamed "Ted Lindsay Award" in 2010)
- 6 times
- 5 times
- 4 times
- 3 times
- 2 times
- 1 time
- Blair MacDonald: 1979–80
- Mike Krushelnyski: 1984–85
- Lee Fogolin: 1985–86
- Jimmy Carson: 1988–89
- John Muckler: 1990–91
- Bill Ranford: 1990–91
- Steve Smith: 1990–91
- Vincent Damphousse: 1991–92
- Dave Manson: 1992–93
- Shayne Corson: 1993–94
- Jason Arnott: 1996–97
- Roman Hamrlik: 1998–99
- Janne Niinimaa: 2000–01
- Eric Brewer: 2002–03
- Ryan Smyth: 2006–07
- Shawn Horcoff: 2007–08
- Sheldon Souray: 2008–09
- Wayne Gretzky, C: 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87
- Mark Messier, LW: 1981–82, 1982–83, 1989–90*
- Paul Coffey, D: 1984–85, 1985–86
- Jari Kurri, RW: 1984–85, 1986–87
- Grant Fuhr, G: 1987–88
*as a center
*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 (Note: including OT losses Edmonton had 55 losses in 2009-10)
- Most shootout wins in a season: 2007–08, 15
Franchise individual records
- WHA (1972–79)
- Most games, career: Al Hamilton, 456
- Most goals, career: Rusty Patenaude, 126
- Most assists, career: Al Hamilton, 258
- Most points, career: Al Hamilton, 311
- Most penalty minutes, career: Doug Barrie, 620
- Most wins, career: Dave Dryden, 112
- Most shutouts, career: Dave Dryden, 8
- NHL (1979–present)
- Most games, career: Kevin Lowe
- Most consecutive games: Craig MacTavish
- Most goals in a season: Wayne Gretzky, 92 (1981–82)
- Most consecutive goal-scoring streak: Dave Lumley
- Most assists in a season: Wayne Gretzky, 163 (1985–86)
- Most points in a season: Wayne Gretzky, 215 (1985–86)
- Most goals in a season including playoffs: Wayne Gretzky, 100 (1983–84)
- Most assists in a season including playoffs: Wayne Gretzky, 174 (1985–86)
- Most points in a season including playoffs: Wayne Gretzky, 255 (1984–85)
- Most penalty minutes in a career: Kelly Buchberger
- Most penalty minutes in a season: Steve Smith, 286 (1987–88)
- Most goals in a season, defenceman: Paul Coffey, 48 (1985–86)
- Most points in a season, defenceman: Paul Coffey, 138 (1985–86)
- Most goals in a season, rookie: Jason Arnott, 33 (1992–93)
- Most assists in a season, rookie: Jari Kurri, 43 (1980–81)
- Most points in a season, rookie: Jari Kurri, 75 (1980–81)
- Most goals in a season, rookie defenceman: Tom Gilbert, 13 (2007–08)
- Most assists in a season, rookie defenceman: Paul Coffey, 23 (1980–81)
- Most points in a season, rookie defenceman: Tom Gilbert, 33 (2007–08)
- Most wins in a season: Grant Fuhr, 40 (1987–88)
- Most shutouts in a career: Tommy Salo
- Most shutouts in a season: Curtis Joseph; Tommy Salo, 8 (1997–98; 2000–01)
- Fastest hat trick in a game: Ryan Smyth, 2 mins 1 second (2006–07)
- Most hat tricks in consecutive games: Wayne Gretzky, 2 hat tricks 1981–82; Jari Kurri, 2 hat tricks (1985 playoffs); Ryan Smyth, 2 hat tricks (2002–03)
- Most back to back overtime winning goals: Andrew Cogliano, 3 (2007–08)
- Led the team in power play goals the most seasons: Ryan Smyth
- Most ice time in a game: Janne Niinimaa
- Most hits in a season: Jason Smith
- Best face-off percentage in a season (minimum 410 face-offs): Todd Marchant
- Best shootout percentage: Shawn Horcoff
- Most powerplay goals in a career: Glenn Anderson, 126
- Most game-winning goals in a career: Glenn Anderson, 73
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 (comics)|Spawn, was a part-owner of the franchise when it was held by the Edmonton Investors Group. 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.
- Legends of Hockey - Time Capsule - Dynasties - Teams - Edmonton Oilers
- WHAUniforms.com 1972/73 Alberta Oilers
- CBC.ca, Number 99 goes to Edmonton
- "Happy birthday, Wayne": the 21-year, personal services contract
- Hunter, Douglas (1997). Champions: The Illustrated History of Hockey's Greatest Dynasties. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1572432166.
- "The Oilers Were The Spoilers", CNN, May 28, 1984. Retrieved on May 1, 2010.
- Messier relates to Penguins in their Cup rematch - NHL.com - 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh
- Quinn at his best when the Oilers are not
- Mark Messier 1 on 2 vs Islanders, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WYK3jE6JZA
- Messier, p.79, DoubleDay Canada, Toronto, ISBN 0-385-65907-5
- Messier, p.82, DoubleDay Canada, Toronto, ISBN 0-385-65907-5
- Classic Battle of Alberta Moment, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKtFGhEIj_0
- The Joyless End Of A Joyride, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1064809/1/index.htm
- Messier, p.86, DoubleDay Canada, Toronto, ISBN 0-385-65907-5
- Profiles In Excellence; Glen Sather, http://www.insidehockey.com/columns/6683
- Messier, p.103, DoubleDay Canada, Toronto, ISBN 0-385-65907-5
- Wayne Gretzky, Great Moments in Hockey, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3uVSFmSLTY&playnext_from=TL&videos=aG9mXJWDvn4
- SportingNews.com, What was the greatest pro team of the last 120 years?
- Gretzky’s Tears, Stephen Brunt, p.154, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, Toronto, Canada, 2009, ISBN 978-0-307-39729-4
- In defence of Peter Pocklington, http://communities.canada.com/edmontonjournal/blogs/hockey/archive/2009/03/11/in-defence-of-peter-pocklington.aspx
- Messier, p.115, DoubleDay Canada, Toronto, ISBN 0-385-65907-5
- Messier, p.122, DoubleDay Canada, Toronto, ISBN 0-385-65907-5
- Messier, p.124, DoubleDay Canada, Toronto, ISBN 0-385-65907-5
- Messier, p.130
- Messier, p.128
- Messier, p.132
- Dave Brown vs. Jim Kyte, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rTRFKGgJaM
- Messier, p.137
- Messier, p.137
- Messier, p.140
- Messier, p.155
- In defence of Peter Pocklington, http://communities.canada.com/edmontonjournal/blogs/hockey/archive/2009/03/11/in-defence-of-peter-pocklington.aspx
- Cole, Stephen (2004). The Best of Hockey Night in Canada. Toronto: McArthur & Company, 128. ISBN 1-55278-408-8.
- "Beat-up Oilers have much to play for", CBC Sports, cbc.ca, 2007-03-07. Retrieved on 2007-05-20.
- Katz bids to buy Oilers
- SportingNews.com—Your expert source for NHL Hockey stats, scores, standings, blogs and fantasy news from NHL Hockey columnists
- "Inside: Katz Looking to Acquire Oilers", TSN, tsn.ca, 2007-07-19. Retrieved on 2007-07-19. Archived from the original on 2007-08-22.
- "Oilers trade forward Smyth to Islanders", TSN, tsn.ca, 2007-02-28. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. Archived from the original on 2008-02-19.
- Oilers move AHL franchise to Oklahoma City. www.edmontonoilers.com. Retrieved on 2010-02-09.
- Barons chosen for name of OKC's new hockey team. www.edmontonoilers.com. Retrieved on 2010-05-20.
- Oilers confirm casino site as best place for new arena
- Cite error: Invalid
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- Peter Goldring.com, Joey Moss Sports Hero
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