Dave Semenko vs Tim Hunter - The battle of Alberta rekindled one last time
The legendary fights that headlined the famous Battle of Alberta matches between the Oilers and the Flames
Even all these years later, Dave Semenko still has that patented cold, hard stare.
It was that stare, coupled with his physical toughness, that made him one of the game's most feared tough guys.
Luckily for the Oilers, on most nights, Semenko was the team's answer for the equally tough Calgary Flames.
For all the high-scoring games played between both clubs in the 1980s, there were just as many that involved bench-clearing brawls.
"We had a lot of battles," said Semenko, who up until last season was a pro scout with the team he won two Stanley Cups with.
Big, bruising Tim Hunter, the Flames' resident beat cop, was inevitably on the other side of the puck.
Hunter still remembers his first game at what was then known as Northlands Coliseum.
"I scored my first goal on that rink against Grant Fuhr in 1982, " said Hunter.
But let's face it, as the Flames' all time penalty minute leader with 2,405 minutes, Hunter never really had a nose for the net. He was out there for one reason, and one reason only.
"Once you realized when I stepped on to the ice and Dave Semenko stepped onto the ice, everyone was expecting something for sure and you could feel the crowd start to stir. " said Hunter, now head coach of the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors.
Both men would inevitably drop the gloves and claw and punch each other into a bloody mess. The post-fight discussions would continue in the penalty box, often with several teammates in tow.
"There were times I remember with me and [Oilers teammate] Donny Jackson, we'd be kicked out of the game and we'd have one hand in ice and one hand holding a cold beer," Semenko said.
Unlike today, the fighting back then would often resort to some elbows being thrown, and even kicking in the scrums. There was no love lost between Semenko and Hunter, nor their clubs.
From the fans all the way to the training staff, the hate between the Oilers and the Flames was for real but the fans fed off it no matter what city the game was in.
Both Hunter and Semenko lived for the battles too,
Hunter recalled some of the conversations the two players would have as they lined up beside each other.
"He used to say, 'who would have ever thought that you and I could could stir the crowd like Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey,'" said Hunter.
"We both had a job to do and we were just happy we were in the National Hockey League, even though we had to do that sort of activity," Semenko said.
And despite all those violent battles, the two former enforcers say the past is behind them. The former foes now consider each other friends.
As for Hunter, the former instigator couldn't help himself when asked about Rexall Place, which will host its last Oilers game next week.
"[I] just remember it being kind of a boring building, in a boring place," he said. "Just a hockey rink with a bunch of seats in it, nothing fancy.
"Kind of what Edmonton is all about. It's a blue collar town and it was a blue collar arena."