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A Reflection On Dominant Hockey In The 80’s

A Reflection on Dominant Hockey in the 80’s

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The 80s was sort of my era. I had graduated high school, I was on my own, feelin good and walking tall, as they say. Not really a college kid, just worked and worked out, and enjoyed myself. Short on lifetime goals, that’s for sure. But I worked, and that meant I had money, and that meant it was incredibly easy to pick up a ticket to a Bruins game. Hell ya. A 20 minute ride on the “T” and I was on the hallowed ground of the Boston Garden. I’m honestly not sure how many games I saw, I just know it was a lot. At some point you have to grow up, and that for me meant I was going to go to college. Long story short, I moved across country, and actually started living like an adult. For any kid reading, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. The bad news was that where I was moving to had no hockey. You read that right. Zero. Zilch. Nada. No hockey. The only ice here was in the freezer.

College hockey rinks in California in 1980

My love for hockey didn’t die. It meant that I found ESPN, back when ESPN was actually about sports news. Yes, you read that right. There even was a short span there when they broadcasted hockey games, and did a pretty good job, I might add. So, I was able to get my fix of Bruins updates, scores, stats, and disappointments. Now, not all is Boston’s fault. For those not aware, the New York Islanders won the Cup from 1980 to 1983. That’s four straight years of “you can leave the Cup on the Island, thank you”, compliments of Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, and Billy Smith. Those guys were tough. They earned it, every year. So there’s that

Islanders first Cup in 1980

So, what about 1984 you say. Well, I’ll tell you what happened. Number 99 from the Edmonton Oilers is what happened. Wayne, do I even need to mention his last name? The Great One. He is what happened. Although the Oilers lost in 83 to the Islanders, they came back with a fury in 84 to take the Cup off of Long Island. There was a new sheriff in town, and he goes by the name of Wayne Gretzky. Now, he did have a solid team around him with notables like Ken Linseman (former Bruin), Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Not to mention Mark Messier (series MVP), and two outstanding goalies in Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog. This crew turned around in 85 and won the Cup again, beating the daylights out of a rugged Philadelphia Flyers team.The Oilers put on an exclamation point, series winning game 5 victory with an 8-3 win. Gretzky tallied an astounding 73 goals and 135 assists on the season, and won the MVP award for the Cup finals (of course). Maybe it would have been a little more fair if they had Wayne play with only one skate on that year.

Gretzky and the Oilers continued their dominance in 1985. Check out the fans on the ice post game.

The 1986 Cup went to the Canadiens, but Gretzky and the Oilers were back to their winning ways in 1987, again beating the Flyers. Now, it is said that this series was one of the greatest Stanley Cup finals of all time. To give you an idea of how tight the series was, it went to seven games, 3 of the games were decided by one goal, and Flyers goalie Ron Hextall was the series MVP. Gretzky netted only two goals but had nine helpers, and the Oilers had a solid netminder in Grant Fuhr. Oddly enough, Andy Moog was traded to our lovable Boston Bruins for goalie Bill Ranford.

Andy Moog had a 136-75-36 record with Boston

Well, as fate would have it, Boston played very well in front of Andy Moog. Some of Boston’s key pieces included Ken Linseman, Cam Neely, an aging Rick Middleton, and of course, Ray Bourque. It would be really nice to say Boston played tough, fought to the last man, and on and on, but truth be told, the most notable part of the series was that it was a five game series but Boston was swept four games to none. The Oilers won the first two games 2-1, 4-2, the third game 6-3, and the fourth game ended in a 3-3 tie, when the power to the Boston Garden went out. Anyone who knows the Boston Garden is not surprised by this, at all. Be that as it may, Boston lived to play another night, in Edmonton, where they lost 6-3. I’m pretty sure Bill Ranford was happy about that trade earlier in the season. Moog not so much. Gretzky picked up another Stanley Cup, another series MVP, and the hearts of Boston’s sport fans were crushed again. Perhaps the most interesting part of this entire story, is that this was Wayne’s last game as an Oiler. In the off season, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, on the condition that his enforcer/knuckle dragger Marty McSorley came with him, along with a player I doubt anyone knows by the name of Mike Krushelnyski. Oddly enough, McSorley’s last game was in 2000 wearing a Bruins sweater, after he cracked Vancouver Canuck’s enforcer Donald Brashear in the head with his stick. This sent Brashear to the ice like a bag of potatoes, and with that McSorley was suspended indefinitely, and thus retired. Wayne went on to play for the St. Louis Blues, and finished his career in 1999 with the New York Rangers. 

The Great One says goodbye on April 18, 1999 in Madison Square Garden
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