1986-87 Oilers: “Boys on the Bus”

Before there were shows like HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and the NHL’s “Road to the Winter Classic” there was “Boys on the Bus”, a documentary with exclusive interviews, behind the scenes footage and never before scene clips from the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980’s.

On Wednesday at 7:30 pm (ET), the NHL Network will be televising the film, which followed the Edmonton Oilers from their loss in the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs through to their third Stanley Cup in 1987.

Don’t let the era fool you. The quality, and the attention to detail is spectacular. If you’ve ever wondered what hockey was like back in the 80’s, “Boys on the Bus” will answer all your questions. The no-holds-barred documentary, originally produced and directed by Bob McKeown, gives you a glimpse inside the locker room, on the ice during games and in the minds of the players themselves. Watch the greats like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier like you’ve never seen them before.

A Team to Remember

Heritage Classic
Wayne Gretzky (Phil/Flickr)

The film chronicles the Oilers journey through 1986 and 1987, but focuses a lot on the individuals of the team, and what made them special.

Although Gretzky is portrayed as being laid back and fun-loving, his personal life remained an enigma. As teammate Kevin Lowe so eloquently put it, “he’s very similar to the President or the Prime Minister. He rarely lets his guard down. You never hear about what Wayne Gretzky does. He doesn’t allow the general public to see that side of him.”

The film recounts the fierce battle of Alberta, and shows some remarkable in-game footage between the two bitter rivals. Oilers fans will relive the haunting memory of losing to the Flames, while fans in Calgary will remember the euphoria.

From an expose on an alleged drug abuse scandal, to the Oilers’ quest to get back to the top, “Boys on the Bus” covers the good and the bad from one of Canada’s most beloved hockey teams. Despite how stacked and talented those Oilers teams were, they had their share of bumps in the road.

The players open up about their hatred of losing, and their feelings through a tough time in what was the best years of the franchise’s history. Life wasn’t always grand for the NHL’s best squad, and the eye-opening commentary provide an insight that fans probably never had before. The pressure on the Oilers to be a true dynasty was heavy.

Don’t be fooled, though. There’s also a lot of levity in the movie, including a classic Dave Lumley story. Let’s just say the New York Giants receivers aren’t the only athletes who rent boats.

The images of the 1987 Stanley Cup victory were raw and real, and a must-see for Oilers fans. But this documentary isn’t just for the good people of Edmonton. Every hockey fan should take the time to watch “Boys on the Bus” because of it’s authentic quality. There’s no playing up to the camera, or censoring.

The music is nostalgic, and the visuals are memorable. It’s one of those movies where you’re disappointed to see the ending credits. Although the closing does provide us with some solid quotes.

[miptheme_quote author=”Wayne Gretzky” style=”text-center”]You’re only as a good as your last game.[/miptheme_quote]