May 23, 2008

1988: Turn Out The Lights - One Last Party For Gretzky

The year is 1988. The Edmonton Oilers win their 4th Stanley Cup in 5 years. They looked downright unbeatable in these playoffs, posting a 16-2 record, including 11 consecutive home ice victories.

No team offered them much competition; not the Bruins in the finals, the Red Wings in the conference finals, not the Jets or even arch rival Calgary in divisional match ups.

Of course, the 1988 Stanley Cup finals will always be remembered for the blackout. About 37 minutes into Game 4 on May 24th, with the score tied at 3, a 4000 volt switch overloaded at the 59 year old Boston Garden went black. Game 4 was officially replayed in Edmonton two nights later, though the statistics recorded in the lost game were kept.

Wayne Gretzky, who in the second period of Game 4a scored the Stanley Cup winning goal and set up the devastating 5-2 goal with a brilliant pass with just 2 seconds left in the period, won the second Conn Smythe trophy of his career.

There was no stopping the juggernaut known as the Oilers. And the core of their team was still so young. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri were all just 27, while ace goaltender Grant Fuhr was younger yet at 25.

But signs of the unexpected dismantling also began this season. Paul Coffey was traded away due to contract disputes that eventually all Oilers star would face.

But no one expected what would happen just weeks after the 1988 Stanley Cup victory.

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