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."
October 5, 1997
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.