if tooth be told

Oiler Spoiler: A birthday today for Wayne Gretzky, who was born in 1961 in Brantford, Ontario, on a whole other Thursday of today’s date — which makes him 62. On this day in 1983, as he was turning 22, he and his Edmonton Oilers battled the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-6 tie at Edmonton’s Northlands Coliseum; Gretzky collected two goals and an assist. He was into his fifth NHL campaign that year, and would end the regular season with an astonishing 71 goals and 196 points. Then again, a year earlier, the Great One had notched 92 goals and 212 points. At some point in the weeks following the Toronto birthday game, Gretzky lost a tooth. Where and how isn’t clear, but the gappy smile he’s showing here dates to mid-February, when the Oilers were in Montreal, and teammate Kevin Lowe was lurking in the background. (Image: Fonds La Presse, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal)

drawing dave dryden

I wrote in my book about drawing Dave Dryden. This would have been 1977 or so, still WHA days for the Oilers, and I would have been 10 or 11. I loved drawing goalies, those fat brown pads and that waffly blocker in particular. I failed to do justice to his famous Oilers’ mask, it’s true, but Dryden was good enough not to mention that. My grandparents lived in Edmonton, where my grandfather was a judge, so I sent the drawing to him. I don’t know if I knew that he’d pass it on to Dryden himself, who then mailed it back to me, along with a kind letter and a team photo. Could be that that was my plan from the start. Or possibly I was surprised and, while pleased for the recognition and the autographs, puzzled at the same time: my grandfather didn’t want my drawing for his own collection?

oil rush

Win, Win: Edmonton’s Oilers celebrate during their 3-1 Forum win over the Montreal Canadiens in the second game of their 1981 preliminary-round series in April of that year that saw the upstart  Oilers dismiss Montreal in three straight games. That’s defenceman Kevin Lowe and goaltender Gary Edwards, back-up to Andy Moog. Edmonton bowed out in the next round, falling to the eventual champions, the New York Islanders. (Image: Robert Nadon, Fonds La Presse, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal)

oil patch

The View From Here: Edmonton d-man Kevin Lowe looks on from the Oiler bench at the Montreal Forum on the Thursday night of January 10 in 1985. On his right, that’s teammate Don Jackson, who scored his first goal of the season that night as the visitors beat the Canadiens 5-2. Wayne Gretzky notched the winner, in the second period, the 43rd of the 73 goals he’d put away that season. (Image: Denis Courville, Fonds La Presse, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal)

lowe altitude

Kevin Lowe gets into hockey’s Hall of Fame next week; tonight the Edmonton Oilers raise his number 4 high into the rafters of Rogers Place ahead of their game against the New York Rangers. Lowe played his steady defence for the Oilers back in the heady ’80s and ’90s, winning five Stanley Cup championships in teams that featured Gretzkys and Messiers, Coffeys and Fuhrs. Born in Lachute, Quebec, he played 15 seasons in Edmonton in all, another four with the Rangers. He won another with New York in 1994. He’s 62 now; his number is the eighth the Oilers have honoured, after Al Hamilton’s 3, Coffey’s 7, the 9 Glenn Anderson wore, Messier’s 11, Jari Kurri’s 17, Fuhr’s 31, and Gretzky’s 99.

moose messiah

Mess Call: Born in St. Albert, Alberta, on a Wednesday of this date in 1961, Mark Messier is 60 today. Has the NHL seen a better leader? He won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and another with the New York Rangers. The image here dates to 1985, when Messier turned 24. Later that spring, the Oilers beat the Philadelphia Flyers in five games to take their second Cup.

joey

Embed from Getty Images

 

Sad news from Edmonton: Joey Moss, a joyful spirit and a beloved dressing-room attendant for the Oilers and CFL Eskimos, has died at the age of 57. More here from CBC.ca.