Celebration planned to mark 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers as NHL's greatest team

The 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers were voted as the best team of all time in the NHL's 100-year history. Oilers Entertainment Group will host a public celebration with fans on Feb. 11.

Proceeds from Feb. 11 event at Rogers Place will go to Dave Semenko legacy endowment

1984-85 Oilers players Mike Krushelnyski, Pat Hughes, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe (CBC)

Edmonton Oilers fans will tell you Wayne Gretzky and his teammates were the best there ever was but Montreal Canadiens fans will certainly argue that, as will many more fans of some of the NHL's most storied franchises.

So, when the NHL embarked on trying to narrow down a list of the top 10 NHL teams of all time — a list that included three other '80s Oilers teams — it turned to its fans.

In June, after online voting by 3.6 million fans, the league announced that the 1984/85 Stanley Cup-winning Edmonton Oilers team was the best NHL team of all time. The contest was part of the league's centennial celebrations.

On Wednesday, the Oilers announced plans for a public celebration of the honour. On Feb. 11 at Rogers Place, fans will have a chance to celebrate and remember that special Oilers team.

"The notoriety from the fans ... saying that you're the No. 1 team in the NHL, and you've got four teams in the top 10, I mean that's saying a lot, " Glenn Anderson said as the team announced its plan to celebrate the honour.

"That's not coming from your peers, that's coming from the outside fan base. That's an honour in itself in my opinion," Anderson said. "We're just proud to be a part of that because there's so many other great teams, so many great moments going back to the beginning of time in the NHL 100 years ago."

'It took about two minutes to figure out that we were going places'

4 years ago
Duration 1:30
Former Oilers Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr, Pat Hughes, Mike Krushelnyski and Glen Anderson talk about what made the 1980s team the best ever. 1:30

Five players from 1984-85 were on hand to talk about the Oilers Entertainment Group's plan to recognize the team and its prestigious title. Besides Anderson the list included Grant Fuhr, Pat Hughes, Mike Krushelnyski and Kevin Lowe.

'You can't match that'

Lowe, who is now vice-chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, was an imposing defenceman back then and one of the team's leaders on what was then a very young team.

"You could debate who the greatest dynasty was — we felt we were, but I had great regard for the Montreal Canadiens of the' 70s," said Lowe, who grew up in Lachute, Que. He said he noticed the young Oilers teams of the '80s were special early on and had a family-like feel.

"I think back to Magnus Anderson, Glenn's dad, Jack Coffey, Paul's dad, Doug Messier, Mark's dad, my dad passed away at a young age, he wasn't around to see this."

Salmon sandwiches

"When Magnus Anderson was bringing us boxes of salmon sandwiches in the dressing room on game day, you know, it was like he was coming into a minor hockey team and guys would dig into that with their gear on. This was the greatest team of all time digging into salmon sandwiches after practice, on game day, " joked Lowe.

While the success of the team was obvious on the ice, it was behind-the-scenes chemistry, according to Krushelnyski, that set the squad apart.

'Made us feel important'

"Our two greatest players made us all feel important, whether it was assisting on a goal, or scoring a goal, or preventing a goal, " added Krushelnyski, referring to team leaders Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.

Pat Hughes was a role player on that Stanley Cup-winning team and came to the Oilers having already won a Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in the late '70s.

"When you get here, you see the likes of Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe, Glenn Anderson, Wayne Gretzky — obviously those same leadership traits transfer. The people that are the great leaders are the ones that we had them here to begin with, so it was an easy transition for me, the guys that were going to push the team forward were here and ready to go."

Draw for right to buy tickets

Demand from Oilers fans for the February celebration is expected to be high. The event, featuring Gretzky, Messier and other members of the 1984-85 team, will be staged in the bowl of Rogers Place.

It's billed as "an intimate and interactive evening of storytelling and unique multi-media vignettes that will recount [the team's] journey to legendary status atop the list of greatest teams in NHL history."

Until Nov. 15, fans can enter a ticket priority draw at EdmontonOilers.com/GreatestTeam.

A random draw will be held from all entries, and the winners will get a chance to purchase seats starting at $85 per seat.

Net proceeds from the event will be directed toward the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation who will establish a legacy endowment in the name of Dave Semenko.

Semenko, who played on the 1984-85 championship team, died in June after a short battle with cancer.