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8 Edmonton Oilers
Jeff Pearlman
October 06, 1997
Turn back the time machine, here come the 1980s
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October 06, 1997

8 Edmonton Oilers

Turn back the time machine, here come the 1980s

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The Oilers boast a slick, high-scoring center, speed on the outside, youth, one of the league's best goaltenders and defenseman Kevin Lowe, which must mean Diff'rent Strokes is on TV and parachute pants are the rage.

Whoa...brain freeze. Life in Oilerland can be mighty confusing these days, what with a talented young team and serious talk of a Stanley Cup run for the first time since Wayne, Mark, Jari and Grant dominated the 1980s. The new Oilers haven't won enough to earn comparison with the old Oilers, but after their 36-37-9 showing last season and their first-round playoff upset of the Stars, there's a warm glow in the Edmonton Coliseum again. "Like yesterday," says Lowe, 38, who won five Cups with the Oilers and returned last season after four years with the Rangers. "Everything's coming back: the speed, the depth of young talent, the attitude. Now all we need is another Wayne."

Maybe not. In 26-year-old Doug Weight, a 5'11", 191-pound center, Edmonton has a star-in-waiting. Weight scored 82 points last year and looks ready to have the kind of 40-goal, 70-assist season that number 99 used to make look easy. "Doug never takes a night off," says general manager Glen Sather. "That, plus he's really, really skilled."

Throw in forwards Jason Arnott, Ryan Smyth, Mike Grier, Andrei Kovalenko, Todd Marchant and Dean McAmmond—none of whom is older than 27—and coach Ron Low has what might be the NHL's top collection of young guns. "We're definitely legit," says Weight. "We've got to be one of the top 10 teams."

Perhaps. But these Oilers won't be those Oilers unless a shaky defense protects ace goaltender Curtis Joseph, who saw too much rubber last season. Hulking defenseman Luke Richardson's free-agent bolt to the Flyers will hurt because the Oilers' remaining backliners are either oft-injured (Bryan Marchment, Boris Mironov), inexperienced (Sean Brown, Greg de Vries) or, in the case of Lowe, as slow as a Yugo.

"But I can still contribute in more ways than just leadership," says Lowe, a seven-time All-Star. "If I can spot the younger guys and they can spot me, there's no reason I can't play 60, 70 games and be productive. Over the years I've shown that I know how to win. I'll help out, even if it's not 1985."

Who knows? Maybe it is.

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