Oil's well in Edmonton: Fuhr

JEFFERSON HAGEN -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Grant Fuhr works as the Phoenix Coyotes goaltending coach now. But part of him still bleeds Oilers blue.

That's why the Hall of Fame goaltender, who was a big part of the Edmonton Oilers dynasty in the 1980s by helping the organization win five Stanley Cups, turned in his Desert Dog hat for that of a fan this past spring.

"It was a fabulous run," said Fuhr, in town to promote his upcoming celebrity golf tournament at Blackhawk Golf Club.

"It's obviously a little bit disappointing they didn't win. But they had a great year and a great playoff run and that's the best thing."

And while some fans have been jumping off the bandwagon after the Oilers had Sergei Samsonov, Michael Peca, Jaroslav Spacek and Georges Laraque raided from their stable, while losing defensive rock Chris Pronger via a trade request, Fuhr thinks Edmonton has nothing to worry about next year.

"They've lost some names, but I think Kevin (Lowe) and MacT (Craig MacTavish) will do a good job of replacing them," he said.

"When they started the year, they weren't sure what they were going to have and built it into a contender. They've got enough young players that are good, solid players that I think they're going to be a pretty good hockey club next year."

Fuhr has his hands full with a pretty talented club in Phoenix, too.

Bogged down by missing the playoff for four straight seasons, the Coyotes were a major player in the free-agent market, signing defensive stars Ed Jovanovski and Nick Boynton, while bringing back Jeremy Roenick and toughening up with Laraque.

As for Fuhr's department, he is blessed with mentoring a talented crop of goaltenders which include Curtis Joseph, ex-Oiler Mike Morrison, ex-Flame Philippe Sauve and up-and-comer David LeNeveu.

"We've got five or six guys we think can play," Fuhr said.

Unfortunately, there's only enough ice time for two, barring injuries.

"You've got to keep everybody happy," said Fuhr, who once started 76 games in a row for St. Louis. "I think that's the biggest thing. We have six guys that think they can play in the National Hockey League.

"You've got to try and humour the five that aren't playing. That's the biggest challenge is just to keep everybody positive and try and keep them focused on what the main goal is."

That common goal, of course, is to crack the top-eight in the Western Conference, which looks to be as strong as ever again next season.

"We've started to build a pretty good hockey club there," Fuhr said of the Coyotes. "The defence is pretty solid. We've signed some good goalies, so we need a little bit of scoring and once we add that, we're going to be a pretty complete team."


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