On November 3, 2022, the Oilers inducted the inaugural members of the newly created Oilers Hall of Fame. Shockingly included in that induction were some guys named Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, and Grant Fuhr, which was nice because the Oilers haven’t done nearly enough to show appreciation for their contributions to the team.
But it also included two new people: Lee Fogolin and Ryan Smyth. It is a nice way to celebrate the players who won’t meet the Hall of Fame requirement to have a jersey retirement, but played big roles for the team and were fan favourites who do deserve some recognition, especially for the fans who grew up after the glory days.
But why not create a third category: Oilers Hall of “I don’t care, I just really love that guy”. This includes players that you don’t usually think of, but as soon as someone mentions his name you go “oh right that guy – I loved him!”, followed by bringing up that one random goal you saw in person at Skyreach Centre in November 2002 that for some reason is now a core memory for you.
In order to make it in this category, the player must:
- Have played four seasons or less with the Oilers
- Have never been an NHL All-Star or won any NHL awards
Given the above very specific criteria, this list is going to be completely impartial, scientific, and not at all subjective of the writer’s nostalgia. I’m sure everyone will unanimously agree with it.
As soon as you read the above, you knew this was going to be the number one guy on the list. The upper end of four seasons may or may not have been done specifically to make sure he made it.
Igor Ulanov was a rugged, hard nosed defenceman who embodied the lunch pail-underdog spirit of the late 90s to 2000s Oilers to a T. He earned a fond memory in everyone’s hearts during his two-season stint with the club.
He also happened to set career highs in goals, assists and points as an Oiler, including scoring more goals and as many points as Hall of Famer Adam Oates in 2003–2004.
Why do we love him? The guy once said, “pain doesn’t hurt”. What a poet.
Anson Carter is probably the best player on this list, which makes sense when he was the player acquired in exchange for Bill Guerin, who was yet another star player the Oilers could no longer afford as a small market team in a non-salary cap world.
That type of scenario might lead one to believe that it would cloud fans’ view on a player. Not Anson. He finished fourth in team scoring that year with 42 points in only 61 games. He followed that up by tying for team scoring lead the next season with 28 goals and 60 points, a career high. He then finished third with 55 points in 68 games before unfortunately being traded at the deadline for Radek Dvorak, who we also ended up liking in his short stint with the Oilers, and Cory Cross, who would turn out to be the exact opposite of a fan favourite.
Fun fact: Carter was one of five Black players the Oilers had on their roster in 2000–01, being 30% of all Black players in the league that year and an NHL record.
Speaking of that 2000–01 group, one of said players was Oilers goalie legend Joaquin Gage.
Gage only played 23 games with the Oilers over three seasons, his only ones in the NHL, but I dare you to find an Oilers fan who doesn’t know him. Is that only because of his awesome name? Maybe. Does that change anything? Absolutely not.
Mike Bishai was undrafted, only played 14 NHL games, all with the Oilers, and never scored a goal. So why is he on this list? This is why:
If there’s one way to earn an Oilers’ fan’s undying love and respect, fighting the other team while standing in THEIR bench, and winning, is the way to do it. Talk about a power move.
The best way to describe just how memorable Bishai was in this. Did you remember that there was a goalie fight as well without rewatching this video?
There are plenty more players that other people have their own fond memories of that aren’t included here. The reasons behind loving that player or memory can be random and personal, such as the time I told my dad I had a feeling that Matt Greene was going to score on the next face-off, then he ended up going ahead and doing just that for his first ever NHL goal (you are welcome, Matt).
So drop a comment below on who your favourite random Oiler is!