In a recent survey involving prominent NHL player agents, it was revealed that Edmonton was the least desirable city to play in. When it comes to players with no-trade clauses, the Oilers were almost always on the list of teams that players did not want to go to. The fact that the city has long harsh winters is definitely a reason player's stay away from Edmonton. However, the main reason player's don't want to become an Oiler is because they have been a struggling team for the past decade. Most of the players on this list hated their time in Edmonton because of the fact the team was always losing.
While there is no denying that some players have not liked their time in Edmonton, there are far more players who loved being an Oiler. Unlike in recent times, back in the 1980s, the Oilers were and absolute dominant force in the NHL. When you're winning multiple Stanley Cups, it's not hard to fall in love with playing in 'The City of Champions'. When the team wasn't so successful, there were a few players who still loved being an Oiler. This is because the fans in Edmonton are some of the passionate fans in the entire league.
Here are 8 players who absolutely loved being an Oiler, and 7 players who can't say the same.
15 Loved: Steve Staios
Steve Staios made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins during the 1995-96 season. After not being able to find a steady role on the blueline with the Bruins, the former second round pick would have short stints with both the Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Thrashers. It wasn't until he signed with the Edmonton Oilers in 2001, that he finally found himself a permanent role. Staios would go on to play eight seasons with the Oilers, which were by far the best years of his career.
The 2005-06 season was particularly special for Staios as he recorded a career-high 28 points. His steady play on defense was key in the Oilers making a surprise appearance in the Stanley Cup finals. Staios run as an Oiler was finished when Edmonton traded him to the rival Calgary Flames. It was unfortunate that he had to be traded as Staios loved the city of Edmonton and it's fans.
14 Hated: Erik Cole
Prior to being traded to Edmonton in the Summer of 2008, Erik Cole had spent the previous six seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. His time in Carolina was very successful as he recorded three consecutive seasons of 20 or more goals and he helped the team capture the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Erik Cole's run in Edmonton didn't even end up lasting a whole season. After recording a pedestrian 27 points in 63 games, he was traded back to Carolina at the trade deadline. Cole wasn't shy about expressing how happy he was to be leaving Edmonton and joining his old teammates. As soon as he was traded he starting calling all his friends in Carolina, explaining how elated he was to be coming back home. Cole felt way more comfortable playing in Carolina, as there was a way less pressure and the media did not over analyze things.
13 Loved: Taylor Hall
Taylor Hall for years was one of the lone bright spots on a struggling Edmonton Oilers team. Hall was the first overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft and he was supposed to be one of the players who would finally help the Oilers turn the corner. During his six seasons as an Oiler, Hall did everything he could do to the help the team rise in the standings. While the Oilers remained bottom feeders, Hall became one of the best left wingers in the entire league. His best offensive year came in 2013-14 when put up a career-high 80 points.
After spending another year near the bottom of the standings, the Oilers needed to shake things up. While it was expected the Oilers would trade one of their talented forwards, the hockey world was shocked that it was Taylor Hall that was the one being traded. When the news broke that he had been traded, Hall was publicly very upset. He had spent the first part of his career on a struggling team, and just when things seem to be looking up for the Oilers, he was shipped off. Hall loved his time in Edmonton, as he enjoyed playing in front of a sold-out crowd every night.
12 Hated: Bernie Nicholls
After Wayne Gretzky was shipped off to Los Angeles in 1988, you knew it was only a matter of time before fellow superstar Mark Messier would be gone too. That day came in November of 1991, when the Oilers traded Messier to the New York Rangers. The key player the Oilers got in return was Bernie Nicholls. Although he may not have been as great as Messier, Nicholls was still a point per game player. His best time of his career was with the L.A Kings, where he once had an incredible 150 point season, although he was playing on a line with Gretzky.
Nicholls first season with Edmonton was marred by injuries, he made up for the regular season by recording 19 points in the playoffs. Despite his playoff success, Nicholls was traded midway through the following season. He just wasn't ever able to get comfortable in an Oilers uniform, as trying to replace someone like Mark Messier proved to be too difficult. Just to show you how much Nicholls wanted out of Edmonton, he was actually pulled over two separate times for speeding on his way to the airport.
11 Loved: Doug Weight
Doug Weight started out his NHL career playing for the New York Rangers, where he played in the shadows of legends like Mark Messier and Adam Graves. However, when he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 1993, he immediately took on a much more prominent role. In his very first season with the Oilers, he would lead the entire team with a career-high 74 points. He would continue to be one of the Oilers top point producers for the next seven seasons. Weight also played an integral role in the Oilers upset playoff wins over late 1990s powerhouses like Dallas and Colorado.
In 2001, Weight's time in Edmonton was over as he was traded to the St.Louis Blues. Even though he no longer an Oiler, he still secretly rooted for his former team. Things got a little difficult for Weight when his Carolina Hurricanes faced off against the Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup finals. Although he was able to win his first ever Stanley Cup, it was kind of a bittersweet moment for him. Weight is proud of his time in Edmonton, and he still talks with the many great people he met during his time in the city.
10 Hated: Joffrey Lupul
Nowadays Joffrey Lupul is known for being of one of the most injury prone players in the NHL. However, when the Oilers acquired him in a 2006 blockbuster trade with the Mighty Ducks, Lupul was one of best up and coming players in the league. In just his second season in the league as a twenty-one year old he recorded 28 goals and 53 points. He took his game to a whole other level during the 2006 playoffs as he led Anaheim with nine goals.
The Alberta-born Lupul was supposed to be one of Edmonton's key players for years to come, but things just didn't work out. The team went from making the Stanley Cup Finals the year before, to not even qualifying for the playoffs. As much as the team struggled, so did Lupul. He recorded a career-low 28 points and he had an embarrassing plus/minus rating of -29. The Oilers shipped off Lupul to Philadelphia in the Summer of 2007 where he regained his confidence. Lupul stated that his entire season in Edmonton was a struggle, and he had felt the Oilers had given up on him.
9 Loved: Kelly Buchberger
As a 1985 ninth round draft pick, Kelly Buchberger just making it to the NHL was an accomplishment by itself, the fact that he became an Edmonton Oiler legend is just icing on the cake. After a strong first season in the minors, where he racked up 257 penalty minutes, Buchberger got his first NHL action during the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals. He would suit up three games for the Oilers, and he would eventually get his name etched on the Stanley Cup. That is a pretty good way to start a career. Buchberger would go on to play parts of 12 seasons with the Oilers, where his hard-working style of play would make him a fan favorite.
When the Oilers traded away players like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, Buchberger took on a larger role with the team. While he was mostly known for spending time in the penalty box, Buchberger could put the puck in the net when he wanted too. His best offensive season with the Oilers came in 1991-92 when he scored a career-high 20 goals and 44 points. In 1995-96 he was named team captain, a position he held until he left the team in 1999. For Buchberger, being an Edmonton Oiler was a huge honor for him. He was proud to play for a team that had such a cherished and winning history.
8 Hated: Eric Belanger
In the Summer of 2011, the Edmonton Oilers signed Eric Belanger to a three-year deal worth $5.25 million. Belanger earned that contract by being one of most consistent players in the league. Since the 2002-03 season, he had always recorded between 30 to 40 points a season, while still providing solid defensive play. He seemed like the exact player the Oilers had been missing.
Belanger's first season with the Oilers ended up being a complete disaster. In 78 games he recorded just four goals and 16 points, and was a minus thirteen. The 16 points was the lowest point total of his entire career. The next season was actually worse, as he only manged a measley three points in 26 games. Not surprisingly the Oilers bought out the remaining year of his contract. Belanger's career was pretty much over at this point. He has stated that Oilers were the most mismanaged organization he ever played for, and it was a graveyard for any player that signed with them.
7 Loved: Craig MacTavish
While some Oilers fans may question some of Craig MacTavish's moves off the ice, there is no denying he made his mark in Edmonton as a player. MacTavish started his career with the Boston Bruins, but a tragic incident in 1984 would change not only his career, but also his life forever. MacTavish was driving home drunk from practice when he badly rear ended another car. The woman driving the car died in hospital four days later and MacTavish was sentenced to a year in jail. Once he had served his jail time, the Bruins felt the right thing was for him to get out of the city. They released him from his contract so he could sign with Edmonton.
MacTavish was thankful the Oilers gave him another shot in the NHL, and he paid them back by playing eight solid seasons for the team, including two as captain. Although MacTavish was born and raised in Ontario, he now lives in Edmonton and considers himself a Western man. After being the head coach and general manager of the Oilers, he is currently the team's Vice President of Hockey Operations.
6 Hated: Chris Pronger
There is a lot of controversy surrounding Chris Pronger's brief time in Edmonton, but if one thing is for sure, his one and only season with the Oilers was an interesting one. After spending his past nine seasons in St. Louis, the former Hart Trophy winner was traded to Edmonton and immediately signed a five-year, $31.25 million contract. The 2005-06 season went as good as Pronger and Oilers could have hoped for. Pronger had one of the best offensive seasons of his career, leading all Oilers defenseman with 56 points. He also played a huge role in helping the team make it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Unfortunately for the Oilers and their fans, the 2006 playoffs would be the last time Pronger ever suited up for the team. Within just a couple weeks after the NHL season was done, Pronger had asked for a trade, citing personal reasons. Those personal reasons ended up being that his wife had absolutely hated living in Edmonton. Although the Oilers loved having a defenseman the caliber of Pronger, they had no choice but to trade him. The fans in Edmonton had every reason to be angry at Pronger, and he quickly became "Public Enemy No.1." While Pronger never openly stated that he hated his time in Edmonton, there is no doubt it was by far the most stressful time of his career on and off the ice.
5 Loved: Kevin Lowe
Kevin Lowe became the first ever NHL draft pick in the history of the Edmonton Oilers when the team took him with the 21st overall pick in the 1979 draft. Lowe was lucky enough to be part of the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s. While players like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were putting up the points, Lowe was rock solid on the blueline. He would go to have two separate stints with the Oilers for a combined 14 seasons. He is currently the only player to ever play more 1000 games for the franchise.
The only other NHL team Lowe played for in his career was the New York Rangers. While there is nothing quite like playing in 'The Big Apple," Lowe says it doesn't at all compare to his time spent playing in Edmonton. He obviously loves the city of Edmonton because it was a place where he had so much success, but it was also a place where he grew as a human being.
4 Hated: Jason Bonsignore
Before the days of Nail Yakupov, the Edmonton Oilers biggest draft bust was arguably Jason Bonsignore. The Edmonton Oilers drafted Bonsignore with the fourth overall selection in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. At the time it seemed like a great pick, as one expert even the compared 6'4",200 lbs player to Mario Lemieux.
Bonsignore would play twenty games for the Oilers in 1995-96, recording just two assists, before being sent back down to junior. As it would turn out, those were the only games he would ever play as an Oiler. He would play the entire 1996-97 season with Edmonton's AHL affiliate, where he put up fairly solid numbers. Even though the Oilers were not flushed with a lot of talent, Bonsignore was still not able to crack the lineup. In 1997, the Oilers cut bait with him and sent him to Tampa Bay. Bonsignore blamed the fact that he was a failure in Edmonton because then Oilers general manager Glen Sather had it out for him. His relationship with Sather had got to the point where he thought about actually fighting the man.
3 Loved: Georges Laraque
Georges Laraque was originally drafted by the Oilers in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, but he didn't earn a full-time roster spot with the team until the 1999-00 season. It didn't take too long for the tough guy to become one of the most popular players on the team. While the big man could throw punches with the best of him, he had a decent scoring ability for an enforcer. His best season with the team came in 2000-01 when he scored a career-high 13 goals and 29 points. That same year he scored a hat trick, which he considers one of the greatest accomplishments in his career.
Laraque's tenure ended with the Oilers when he signed with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006. He never will forget his time as an Oiler, as it was where it all started. He has stated the fans in Edmonton are the greatest fans to play in front of. Laraque built a house in Edmonton, a house that he still lives in every Summer. He also remains very involved in the community helped out numerous charities.
2 Hated: Jimmy Carson
Jimmy Carson came over to the Edmonton Oilers in the biggest trade in NHL history. He was the key player the Oilers got in return for Wayne Gretzky. While you obviously can not replace "The Great One," the Oilers and their fans had every right to be excited about what Carson brought to the table. The former second overall draft pick had only been the league for a couple seasons, but based on his performance he looked like a budding superstar. Carson was coming off a 55 goal, 107 point season with the Kings. His goal total was the highest by an American-born player, and he was the second youngest player in NHL history to reach the 50 goal plateau.
In his first season with the Oilers in 1988-89, Carson continued to be an offensive force, once again reach 100 points. However, just four games into his second season with the Oilers, he walked out on the team and demanded a trade. He never felt comfortable in Edmonton, almost as soon as he arrived he was already thinking about getting out. Left without any other options, the Oilers traded him to the Detroit Red Wings. After a couple of solid seasons in Detroit, Carson's career completely collapsed, much to the delight of Oiler fans.
1 Loved: Ryan Smyth
Without question, there was never a player who was more proud to put on an Edmonton Oilers jersey than Ryan Smyth. He played the first eleven seasons of his career with the Oilers, where his tireless work ethic made him one of the most popular players in franchise history. Smyth's crowing achievement in Edmonton came in 2005-06 when he led the underdog Oilers to game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.
Smyth's first run with the Oilers ended in 2007 when he was traded to the New York Islanders. During the press conference for the trade, Smyth was so emotional about leaving the city that tears began to run down his face. After stops in Los Angeles and Colorado, Smyth was happily traded back to his beloved Oilers in 2011. Although he was now a shell of his former self, Smyth couldn't have been happier to end his career as an Oiler. Since retiring in 2014, Smyth has eased back into the hockey world as conditioning coach for Edmonton. However, it wouldn't be shocking to see him one day behind the Oiler's bench.
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