Introducing The Hockey Writers’ Countdown to Puck Drop collection. From now till the puck drops on the 2019-20 NHL’s common season on Oct. 2 when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators, we’ll be producing content material that’s linked to the variety of days remaining on that exact day. Some posts could also be related to a participant’s quantity, whereas others will probably be linked to a yr or size of time. We’re actually enthusiastic about this collection as we take you thru the rest of summer time in anticipation of the return of NHL hockey.
That Magical ’80 Season For Gretzky
Day 80 of The Hockey Writers’ Countdown to Puck Drop collection contains a record-breaking season from considered one of, if not the, greatest participant within the historical past of the sport of hockey.
Wayne Gretzky remains to be celebrated to at the present time as the best participant to ever play within the NHL. He was known as the ‘Nice One’ for a motive and in 1980, he was a participant you “couldn’t put in your again pocket” (as was claimed attainable by Montreal goaltender Richard Sevigny). Gretzky confirmed that he was going to be a expertise to observe for years to come back.
The 1980–81 Edmonton Oilers season was the Oilers’ second season within the NHL. A brand new workforce with the sport’s latest famous person, Gretzky led the Oilers to a 74-point season. Whereas nowhere near their greatest total season end, it was a five-point enchancment over their inaugural marketing campaign.
Wayne Gretzky #99 (Picture by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Pictures)
Extra spectacular than what the workforce did, was what its clear rising star was doing on the ice. Wayne Gretzky merely caught fireplace, simply profitable the Artwork Ross Trophy, because the league’s main scorer. An incredible 164-point season was good for 29 factors greater than the subsequent closest finisher, Marcel Dionne. He broke Phil Esposito’s level file and solely 5 gamers had as many or extra factors than Gretzky had assists (109).
If anybody was denying how good Gretzky was by this level, they have been merely ignoring the apparent.
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Solely Cementing Gretzky’s Profession Greatness
That very same 1980 season, Gretzky would additionally win his second consecutive Hart Memorial Trophy proving he was going to be a drive within the NHL for a very long time. That second win was considered one of eight-straight Hart Trophies because the league’s most beneficial participant.
On a workforce that now included children Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, and Mark Messier, the Oilers have been setting the muse to grow to be a dynasty in hockey. They might later add Grant Fuhr and Paul Coffey, amongst others.
Because the playoffs approached in 1980, the Oilers could be pitted up towards one other dynasty within the Montreal Canadiens and shockingly sweep them in three video games. Edmonton was finally bumped out of the postseason, due to a six-game collection loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champion New York Islanders, however a really vivid future was awaiting them.
Oh, and Gretzky scored a mere 21 factors in 9 playoff video games that season.
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1980 Was a Memorable Yr for the Oilers
Proving the workforce would by no means be out of a sport, a collection or a season, the yr 1980 didn’t really begin all that effectively for the Oilers. However, they got here on and made their presence identified, making a loud assertion that season once they booted the Canadiens from the playoffs.
Glen Sather, President of the New York Rangers (AP Picture/Jae C. Hong, File)
In all honesty, folks already knew Gretzky was a particular participant. There was discuss how good he was earlier than he began shattering data and posting numbers nobody would ever match. However, 1980 was a yr that Gretzky put a stamp on simply how a lot folks wanted to maintain speaking about his greatness and as his supporting solid in Edmonton grew into kind, there could be loads of Stanley Cup Championships to come back.
Glen Sather was promoted to the positions of GM and president by proprietor Peter Pocklington that yr (nonetheless thought of one one of the best GM’s in hockey), Messier set the world on fireplace within the final 24 video games of that season and the Oilers used that season to beginning understanding the kinks as merely a proficient workforce. After that, they turned a rock-solid group that discovered learn how to win when it counted. By 1984, they have been profitable recurrently, taking dwelling 5 Stanley Cups by 1990.
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1980 was a memorable yr for the Oilers however, furthermore, Gretzky used the 1980 season to shatter data that lots of people assumed would possibly by no means be shattered.