Champs grow up as family

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:52 AM ET

The reoccurring theme from members of the 1984 Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers was the tightness of the group.

Due to the fact most of the players were relatively the same age when laying down the foundations of a dynasty, the Oilers were a close team.

"I think we were very fortunate, I think everybody felt part of the team and everybody cared for each other," said Dave Hunter. "That's the biggest thing we had back in those days. We had all those great players, but they made everybody feel part of the team. It didn't matter if you just had one shift or you were sitting out, everyone felt part of it.

"That's the biggest thing -everybody just cared for each other on and off the ice. That made a big difference, that's why when we got on the ice, it made a big difference because everyone cared for each other."

Wayne Gretzky was 23, Mark Messier 23, Kevin Lowe 25, Charlie Huddy 24, Grant Fuhr 21, Andy Moog 24, Dave Hunter 26, Paul Coffey 22, and Jari Kurri turned 24 the day before the Oilers won the Cup.

"I think it's because we were all about the same age, and we all came up together, it was like a family," Hunter said. "We also had great leadership from everybody. It was really like a family we all got along, because we all grew up together."

Despite their youthful average age, the Oilers had been through a lot by the time they met the New York Islanders in the final. They were swept aside by Islanders in the final the year before, were upset by the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round in 1982 and pulled out a shocker of their own by beating the Montreal Canadiens in the first round the year prior to that.

"We were such a young group, but it's not like we were all a bunch of idiots," said Kevin Lowe. "We had guys that had the ability to respect and appreciate other people's talents.

"We also had a little bit of us against the world mentality. The Eastern media was not giving us a lot of credit and we felt we had something to prove. Even after we won our first Cup, not a lot of Eastern media gave us a lot of respect. It was all about the Islanders and Flyers and teams like that. So as a group we wanted to show them so to speak."

They went on to win two consecutive Cups, scored on themselves to lose to the Calgary Flames and then won two more. They capped it all off with another Cup win in 1990, giving them five in seven years, a feat which may never be repeated.

"Naivety is an interesting quality," said Dr. Randy Gregg. "I don't think any of us knew what exactly we were doing or the significance of winning a championship like the Stanley Cup. I just think as a team we felt we could reach any goal we set and at the time the goal was always to win the Stanley Cup.

"Winning those five, I think was just an expectation, an expectation from the players, the fans and the coaching staff and our own personal expectations. We felt we were good enough as a group and we would win the Stanley Cup.

"I suppose now when you look back on it and see that not many teams have been able to win as many Stanley Cups, it's a little more remarkable. But the beauty of that dressing room wasn't that this was an amazing gift or amazing accomplishment, it was just an accomplishment that we expected to do."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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