On Sept. 7, the Edmonton Oilers announced the creation of the Oilers Hall of Fame and inducted an inaugural group that ranks right up there with some of the greatest names in the history of the sport of hockey. Glen Sather, Rod Phillips, Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Al Hamilton and Glenn Anderson were all inducted automatically because they already have their banners hanging proudly in Rogers Place.
It’s fitting that the Oilers would create a tribute to their greatest players and personalities during the 2022-23 NHL season, as this season marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the franchise. On Oct. 11, 1972, the Alberta Oilers played their first game on the first night of the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Oilers, who changed their name to the Edmonton Oilers in their second WHA season, have certainly built a strong legacy that belongs with the greatest franchises in hockey.
Oilers Hall of Fame Selection Committee Introduced
As part of the announcement of the establishment of the Oilers Hall of Fame, a special selection committee was created to vote on new inductees in the future. The committee is comprised of executives, media members, community leaders and former players. The list includes Gretzky, Ron Low, Louie DeBrusk, Chris Joseph, former executive Bruce MacGregor, media members Jim Matheson, Terry Jones, Bob Stauffer and Jason Gregor, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Olympic gold medalist Shannon Szabados. They will be voting on two new inductees, with the names being announced on Sept. 20.
Top 10 Future Candidates for the Oilers Hall of Fame
If you were part of the selection committee, who would you consider worthy of the honour? As a fan, I took the liberty of creating a list of the top ten candidates I believe are worthy of induction into the Oilers Hall of Fame, and the reasons why they are deserving of the honour:
10. Andy Moog
The roots of the Oilers dynasty can be traced back to their first-round best-of-five playoff series in 1981 against the Montreal Canadiens. There was this tiny kid in goal named Andy Moog, recently called up from the Billings Bighorns of the Western Hockey League, who was chosen to start the first game.
Moog absolutely stole the show and led the Oilers to a three-game sweep of the Habs, stunning the hockey world in the process. As if this wasn’t enough, he was also in goal when they clinched their first Stanley Cup in Game 5 of the Cup Final against the New York Islanders on May 19, 1984. Even though he eventually asked for a trade out of Edmonton, he and his goaltending partner Fuhr could possibly be considered one of the best goaltending tandems in NHL history during the time when they shared the crease for the Oilers.
9. Charlie Huddy
Charlie Huddy was a rock back on defence during his 10 seasons in Edmonton. A winner of five Stanley Cups with the Oilers, he could always be counted on to block shots, finish his checks, clear the front of the net and remain back when the high-flying team of the 1980s was seemingly always on offence. His talent was recognized in 1983 when he won the NHL’s first Plus/Minus Award, presented annually to the player who (in at least 60 games) led the NHL in plus/minus statistics. An unsung hero, he is definitely deserving of his day in the sun with the Oilers in their Hall of Fame.
8. Chris Pronger
The “Human Rake” might be a controversial selection for some, but in his one and only year with the Oilers during the 2005-06 NHL season, he was absolutely incredible. Chris Pronger led the Oilers to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, where they eventually lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. His leadership and play were instrumental in helping the underdog Oilers make it all the way to the Final, and fans were hungry for more.
Unfortunately, Pronger asked for a trade during the 2006 offseason and went on to win the Stanley Cup with his new team the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Fans can still be bitter about how he left Edmonton, but if he’s not on the team in 2005-06, there’s no way the team goes on that magical Stanley Cup playoff run.
7. Barry Fraser
As the Oilers’ director of scouting from 1979 to 2000, Barry Fraser had his share of highs and lows. Most will remember him for being on an absolute hot streak when it came to drafting players in the team’s first four seasons. This is the period when they selected Messier, Anderson, Lowe, Coffey, Kurri, Moog, Fuhr, Steve Smith, Jeff Beukeboom and Tikkanen in the NHL Draft. Not bad. Definitely good enough to earn Fraser honours for the Oilers Hall of Fame.
6. Bill Ranford
Ranford literally came out of nowhere to lead the Oilers to their 5th Stanley Cup Championship in 1990. A backup early in his career behind Hall of Fame netminder Grant Fuhr, he was thrust into the role as the starter when Fuhr injured his shoulder late in the 1989-90 season. No one could’ve predicted how great he was going to be as he helped the Oilers come back to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in the first round of the Smythe Division Semi-Finals. The team led by Ranford and captain Mark Messier eventually went on to the Stanley Cup Final where they defeated the Boston Bruins in five games and brought the Cup back to Edmonton for a fifth time. He never looked back from that 1990 playoff run and went on to have an outstanding career highlighted by Canada Cup and World Hockey Championships for Canada in the 1990s.
5. Doug Weight
Doug Weight spent nine seasons with the Oilers and was a shining light during his time in the Alberta capital. Weight, who was traded from the New York Rangers in exchange for Esa Tikkanen on March 17, 1993, was the first superstar they had after their core group of stars from the 1980s and early 1990s were either traded or sold.
Weight’s skating and passing ability combined with his leadership helped lead the Oilers into the playoffs five years in a row from 1997 to 2001. He was also part of the team responsible for one of the franchise’s greatest playoff upsets of all time when they defeated the heavily favoured Dallas Stars in overtime in Game 7 of the first round of the 1997 Playoffs.
4. Cal Nichols
The former member of the Paradise Hill Hawks of the Sask/Alta Senior Hockey League is definitely worthy of the Oilers Hall of Fame honour. Cal Nichols is the Edmonton businessman responsible for spearheading the Edmonton Investors Group (EIG), the group which saved the Oilers from being relocated after former owner Peter Pocklington made it known they were for sale. Nichols and the EIG operated the team for ten seasons until current owner Daryl Katz purchased it from the group in Dec. 2007.
3. Ben Stelter
Six-year-old Ben Stelter came into the hearts of Oilers players and fans back on March 24, 2022, when they invited him to skate with Connor McDavid and the team on the ice prior to their game against the San Jose Sharks. During their 2022 playoff run to the Western Conference Final, he encouraged the team to “Play La Bamba, baby” after each win.
Stelter, who sadly passed away on Aug. 9, 2022, truly impacted the Oilers and the community with his strength and his spirit. As such, it would be fitting if the committee were to choose him for the honour this season.
2. Joey Moss
Moss was an inspiration not only to the Oilers but also to the city of Edmonton and all who knew him. A role model to those with down syndrome, he worked with the Oilers’ training staff for over 35 years and received numerous awards and accolades including the NHL Alumni Association’s “Seventh Man Award” in 2003. They also honoured him with a special statue outside their dressing room in 2021.
The statue depicts Moss giving each player a high five, something that he was famous for, and loved by the Oilers players and staff.
1. Bill Hunter
As the original founder of the Oilers and the WHA, Hunter is the visionary responsible for the team existing in the first place. That alone makes him a deserving candidate. Hunter, fondly known as “Wild Bill”, was also responsible for helping to get the Oilers accepted into the NHL in 1979.
Who Would You Choose for the Oilers Hall of Fame?
The Oilers Hall of Fame selection committee should seriously consider adding at least one or two fans to their voting group. Fans are the ones who stick with the team through good and bad, the ones who are always there, the true ambassadors of the Oilers brand. If you were selected for the committee, who would you choose to join the Oilers Hall of Fame? Please leave your comments in the space below.
D. Edward Bochon covers the Edmonton Oilers. His background is in marketing writing where he worked with the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Football Club (now known as the Elks), and the Edmonton Rush of the NLL.