Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The Oilers won all of their Cups when I was between the ages of 16 and 22. I remember watching the clinching game of their first Cup up at our camp on the smallest TV ever. My Dad had this little black and white running off of a car battery. The screen was not much bigger then a postcard, seriously. My Mom is into gadgets and I would bet that at the time this TV would have been state of the art, sort of a precursor to the portabl;e DVD players you see today. So I saw that first championship win in miniature. I remember being happy. Despite being a Chicago fan I liked the Oilers and their youthful elan, especially when contrasting them with the grizzled Islanders.
Let me tell you something about those teams and the talent assembled - at the time Glenn Anderson didn't take a backseat to anybody but Gretzky. What I mean is this - you had Gretzky whose genius was acknowledged (remember these are the years when he was scoring 200 points) and then you had the stars - the sneering bullish Messier, the calm sniper Kurri, the smooth Coffey (greatest skater I have ever seen), the cool and athletic Fuhr and the mercurial explosive Anderson. Then you had the supporting cast - the steady Dmen Lowe and Huddy, the chattering Finn Tikkanen and so on.
My point - a simple one. Anderson did not take a back seat to any of the other stars because he was one with them. This guy was arguably the most dangerous individual Oiler - out of nothing he could explode past the D and score. He didn't score his goals tipping in point shots, knocking in Messier's rebounds or getting Gretzky to bank shots off of him. He created a lot of his own offence from nothing.
A great great player. In an elite HHOF which is often discussed at LT's site, he likely does not get in but there are plenty of present members who do not. In this HHOF he should be a lock. One of the great players in the game for over a decade and six Cups, five which he was a big big part of winning. For anyone who watched hockey in the eighties and early nineties the answer is a simple one. Glenn Anderson belongs in the Hall.


Bruce said...

BDHS: Well said. I was a season ticket holder throughout those years and it was the hockey fan's dream come true. Gretzky was in a class by himself, but I considered Anderson as a full equal to Messier, Kurri and Coffey in filling out the Oilers unstoppable "Big Five". All five were great skaters who could handle, pass and shoot the puck in top gear, generally at least one gear higher than their opponents were equipped to handle.

Here's my favourite of all records from the NHL Guide:

Most points, career, playoffs:

1. Wayne Gretzky, Edm, others: 382
2. Mark Messier, Edm, others: 295
3. Jari Kurri, Edm, others: 233
4. Glenn Anderson, Edm, others: 214
5. Paul Coffey, Edm, others: 196

The top five playoff scorers ever. All five belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Gretzky got in without a waiting period, Kurri, Coffey and Messier got in on the first ballot, Fuhr too. The HHoF committee has more than made whatever point they want by making Anderson wait a few years, but enough already. It's time they pulled their heads out of their arses and reunited the Big Five where they belong, recognized as all-time greats of the game.

Scarlett said...

I completely agree. There was nothing like watching Anderson fly down the wing and cut in, beat the defense and score. Damn he was great. And he finally gets in today. About frickin' time!

Doogie said...

So now that Anderson's in the Hall, does #9 go to the rafters?

HBomb said...

So now that Anderson's in the Hall, does #9 go to the rafters?

My guess is that it's a slam dunk that happens early in the upcoming season.

No truth to the rumor that, in following the precedent set with Gretzky and Messier, that the city of Edmonton will be naming a dirt road after Anderson.

PDO said...


Great to see Larionov in there too.

Though I'm little confused as to how both Dino AND Howe got snubbed again, this time.... by nobody?

andy grabia said...

I liked the Oilers and their youthful elan

Well said, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Bruce said...

Reading the thread I suddenly realized Anderson's time had gone from "about time" to "has come", and his election to the Hall is, at long last, fait accompli.

It's true:
... and I am absolutely delighted. Glenn Anderson was always one of my favourites, and remains among the most exciting hockey players I have ever seen.

I was fortunate enough to "scout" him both before and after he was drafted by the Oilers. The first time was a Christmas exhibition game between the Golden Bears and Denver U., a game which featured several future Oilers as it turned out. Randy Gregg, patrolled the blueline for the Bears, while (WHA)Oiler-prospect-of-the-day Ken Berry played for Denver. I kept an eye on Berry all night, and I ALWAYS watched Gregg, but I remember saying stuff like "Nice pass by Berry, but WHO IS NUMBER NINE?" So when the now-NHL Oilers drafted him in the fourth round that fall I already had "seen him good" and was excited as hell that he would turn out. Which he did.

The next year I went to another game at Varsity (now Clare Drake) Arena between the Bears and the Canadian Olympic Team. Gregg was captain, but two years away from Oilers' plans. Anderson OTOH was a drafted (NHL) Oiler so I watched him closely, and he didn't disappoint with a goal and an assist in a tight 4-3 loss to the pwoerhouse Bears. I quickly became convinced this guy was for real, the speed, the puck control, the cerativity and the desire were all top notch. He wasn't yet a polished finisher, it took him a year or so in the bigs to learn when to shoot and when to hold the puck for an extra step out wide of the crease. Or when to pass -- Andy still holds the Oiler one-season record for assists by a winger (67, more than Messier or Kurri ever compiled). He also holds one of the very few team records that for which Wayne Gretzky is eligible and doesn't actually hold, namely game-winning goals (72). Andy had a knack for breaking games open.

In playing style Anderson reminded me more than a little bit of (films and stories of!) Rocket Richard, lefthand shooting rightwing #9, bursting hard to the net and willing to take body, puck, defender and goalie and all right into the cage if that's what it took. He had a similar ability to raise his game to the occasion. Unlike most players, Andy's per-game scoring rate actually rose in the playoffs -- as an Oiler he averaged 1.08 PPG in the regular season, and 1.12 in the post-season.

Anderson was deadly in overtime, where his 5 playoff OT goals rank third all-time. In one memorable sequence he instantly won three consecutive Oiler overtime games (over three years ... the Oil usually won in regulation :), by scoring after 46, 64 and 36 seconds. Three wins, total elapsed time 2:26. One of the most unusual, and impressive, hat tricks I have ever witnessed.

There was no bigger stage than Game 7 of the SCF, and it was under such an intense limelight in 1987 that Andy played one of the greatest games of his career, notching a game-tying assist and a Cup-clinching goal in a hard-won 3-1 victory. An outstanding Philly defensive squad featuring the red-hot Ron Hextall and his equally red-hot posts were near-impenetrable; but Anderson created one hole with his speed and guile, and another with a searing slapshot right through Hextall that provided the engraving on the third Cup. I have never heard the Coliseum louder than it was at that moment.

Anderson made huge contributions to each and every Oiler Cup champion, and was an important role player for the '94 Rangers. He represented his country with pride, playing in Lake Placid and later winning two Canada Cups.

He didn't suffer fools gladly and could be a smart-ass, a lethal combination when dealing with the MSM where fools are not limited to one per village. But if he was asked a serious question he might shoot the questioner a second glance to make sure he was on the level, but then his brow would furrow and he'd give a thoughtful, serious answer that would reveal the intelligence underlying the flaky outward demeanour. Problem was, such questions were few and far between.

He was also a fun-loving guy who particularly loved to score. One thing that set those 80s Oilers apart was how much fun they clearly had on the ice, and Anderson took a back seat to nobody in that dept. The more outrageous the goal the better; he and Messier used to delight in the old take-it-behind-the-net-at-a-hundred-miles-an-hour-and-pass-it-back-out-the-short-side-for-the-empty-netter-where-the-goalie-is-the-last-guy-to-know-what-happened play.

As a player Anderson made me laugh, he made me gasp, and he brought me out of my seat to cheer. That was Oiler Hockey, and he personified it as well as anybody.

Welcome to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Glennie. You deserve it.

Black Dog said...

Reading Tender Is The Night right now Andy.

doogie - absolutely and likely as hbomb said, this season; now wil they have him bursting off the wing as scarlett and bruce described, roofing one over a falling goalie. Or perhaps they will have him accidentally clip someone as he skates by the opposition bench. He was quite the stickman.

pdo - I don't get the Howe thing but Dino to me, well I don't see him as a Hall of Fame guy. Not talking about the off the ice stuff either. He's a guy who piled up a lot of points but one of the greats - not to me anyways.

And Bruce, nice one.

uni said...

Dino is a tough guy to make a case with. The argument with him to me was always how good was he at creating his own offense all on his own? That said I only saw him his last season in the NHL when he had all sorts of things in his body breaking down and wasn't very effective.

I was almost convinced that Anderson shouldn't be in, but BD makes a damn good point, and there are certainly a number of Leafs, and a lesser number of Habs, in the HOF that are much less deserving so good on Glenn. I used to think that this blog was all about homo-erotic hockey player slash fiction and homages to musical theater and Natalie Portman, but those preconceptions have now been shattered by a number of lucid and very insightful posts. I guess my quota of whimsy will have to be filled by infrequent Hot Oil and CinO posts..

As an aside anyone want to chime in the best watering holes and sites in Edmonton for the Summer?

Black Dog said...

Yeah someone said somewhere else that if it was Dino on the Oilers he would be in.

Maybe so - Cups weigh heavily in this.

But Anderson was a way better player then Dino. Dino was really good at standing in front of the net and poking those pucks in.

Anderson was explosive, man. And one of the reasons they won all of those Cups - Glenn Anderson. This idea that he was just along for the ride is a pile of bull.

uni - I'd run by the Sherlock Holmes if I were you. I enjoyed that when I was out there. Other then that you'll have to ask a native.

And thanks for the kind words. With summer here maybe we'll come up with some crazy shit to get us through the days before TC. One can only talk about Joni Pitkanen so many times.

Bruce said...

Independent statements issued yesterday:

"In playing style Anderson reminded me more than a little bit of (films and stories of!) Rocket Richard, lefthand shooting rightwing #9, bursting hard to the net and willing to take body, puck, defender and goalie and all right into the cage if that's what it took. He had a similar ability to raise his game to the occasion."
-- Bruce

"I don't think there was a better playoff-pressure player other than maybe Rocket Richard. His championships and statistics speak for themselves and, more importantly, he was an unselfish teammate."
-- Wayne Gretzky

"He would cut to the net like Maurice Richard"
-- Kevin Lowe

What can I say, I guess I'm not the only one who saw the resemblance. Not a bad guy to be compared to, either. The Rocket wasn't your prototypical "passenger".


Bruce said...

Second footnote: Nice to see Anderson credit the great Clare Drake in Jim Matheson's article in today's Journal. I mentioned him only obliquely above, and it was an oversight.

That 1979-80 season with the Canadian Olympic Team was huge in Anderson's development. With Coach Drake calling the shots and teammates like Randy Gregg, Don Spring, Dave Hindmarch, Kevin Primeau, and John Devaney -- all but Devaney made the NHL, and he was a beauty player too -- Andy got a crash course in the Golden Bear way. That exhibition game where Drake's Olympians took on Billy Moores and the depleted-but-still-good-enough-to-win-their-third-straight-national-championship Golden Bears was very likely the best game of amateur hockey played in the country that season.

Anderson showed up at Oiler training camp that fall as one of the most fully-developed 20-year-old rookies you could want to see. He scored 30 goals that season in just 58 GP, and was a positive force pretty much from Day One.

Doogie said...

The Richard comparison is interesting. Obviously, Anderson wasn't much of a fighter (nor did he ever outright club someone with his stick), but in terms of an offensive player, it's hard to argue with being compared to the NHL's first 50-goal man, first 500-goal man, and for a brief time, all-time goals leader.

As for Dino, he sounds from all accounts like the bastard child of Ryan Smyth and Dale Hunter. Is that reasonable?

Black Dog said...

doogie - not sure if you have ever seen one of the famous pics of Richard, Dman draped over him, cutting to the net, fire in his eyes; that was him in a nutshell.

Now Richard was one of the top players of all time, we're talking elite of the elite, but the comparison is a good one, deadly from the blueline in, the signature cut to the net, the playoff heroics.

Richard was pretty vicious too but then again back in the day most if them were. Read Brunt's book about Orr and he describes #4 getting the red mist and just pounding on guys.

Coffey had the great line - Anderson could cut in and deke out a goalie on the goalline and the Dmen gave him a healthy distance because if not he would accidentally clip them with his stick. He and Messier must have been a drag to play against. They were vicious.

As for Dino - that's a good way to decribe him. Scored, what, 500 plus, none from more then a couple of feet out. Dirty stickman. Very good player but no comparison to Anderson. To paraphrase Buddy Ryan "All he did was score goals" - obviously a good thing - but I saw Dino his whole career and never never would he be considered a Hall of Famer in my view.

HBomb said...

Sounds like me Dino Ciccarrelli fell out of the same tree that later gave us Ryan Smyth.

Only difference being he played in a slightly more offensive era.

Doogie said...

@Black Dog - I've definitely seen the pictures of Richard, and I've read Brunt's book, among many others. It seems that with each passing decade, hockey's gotten a little softer, though it took a quantum leap in that direction in the 90s. But anyway, Anderson left the Oilers when I was 5, and I never really watched him with the Leafs (I always switched to SRC to watch the Habs games in French), but I can sort of picture what you're talking about. Sounds like a hell of a player.

Bruce said...

...for a brief time, all-time goals leader

Doogie. That "brief time" was actually eleven years. The Rocket broke Nels "Old Poison" Stewart's career record of 324 goals on Nov. 8, 1952, and scored another 220 goals before he retired in 1960. Gordie Howe surpassed Richard's total when he scored his 545th goal on Nov. 10, 1963.

Anonymous said...

I saw all of the Oilers cups and for my money the order of star players was: Gretzky, Coffey, ANDERSON, Messier, Kurri.

Anderson come up so many times with clutch goals it was unreal.