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EDMONTON GETS A WAKE-UP CALL
Austin Murphy
April 17, 1989
It's playoff time, so naturally the Oilers, after a drab season, took a commanding lead over the Great One's Kings
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April 17, 1989

Edmonton Gets A Wake-up Call

It's playoff time, so naturally the Oilers, after a drab season, took a commanding lead over the Great One's Kings

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All season, Ftorek has used Gretzky's talents to jump-start the egos of almost every winger in the Kings' organization, including such nonentities as Paul Fenton, Bob Kudelski, Hubie McDonough and Tim Tookey. The joke in the Kings' press box earlier this season was that if you were the New Haven farm club's player of the week, your prize would be round-trip airfare to L.A., a trip to Disneyland and a week playing on Gretzky's line.

Edmonton's fourth goal in Game 3—scored by Kurri after he, Tikkanen and Mark Lamb played catch with the puck as if the Kings' defensemen weren't on the ice—made one wonder where Los Angeles's veteran defenseman Doug Crossman was. Crossman was good enough to make the 1987 Canada Cup team, but his style isn't sufficiently physical for Ftorek. So he doesn't play much.

In contrast, Sather and Edmonton co-coach John Muckler, who have won 17 of the last 18 Oiler playoff series, are pressing all the right buttons. "When I played in Montreal," says Sather, "[then head coach] Scotty Bowman used to say, 'A coach's job is to take away all the crutches.' "

As the series returned to Los Angeles, the Gretzky-less Oilers had replaced their crutches with the old fear of losing. The regular season was all but forgotten; April was nearly two weeks old, and the Oilers were right on schedule.

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