1989-90: Soviet Invasion
The Three Stars:
Soviets Join NHL - After years of negotiations the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation agrees to release veterans to the NHL. Igor Larionov, 28 and Vladimir Krutov, 29, join the Vancouver Canucks while Sergei Makarov, 31, joins Calgary. Slava Fetisov, 31, and Sergei Starikov, 30, join New Jersey.
Great One Passes Gordie - Wayne Gretzky, in his 780th career game, visits his old friends and teammates in Edmonton, very fittingly, and passes Gordie Howe as the NHL's all time leading scorer. After scoring the tying 1850th point earlier in the game, Gretzky breaks the record by tying the game with just 53 seconds left. In typical Gretzky fashion, after a long delay of celebration, he goes out and scores the overtime game winning goal, too.
Oilers Back On Top - Many thought it couldn't be done, but the Edmonton Oilers return as Stanley Cup champions just two years after trading Wayne Gretzky. Mark Messier emerges from Gretzky's shadow and wins the Hart and Pearson trophies. Bill Ranford is nothing short of spectacular in net, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. Craig Simpson leads all playoff shooters with 16 goals and 31 points. Jari Kurri was also notably strong, and Petr Klima played unlikely marathon overtime hero.
- Alan Eagleson loses his power as NHLPA boss. Bob Goodenow succeeds him.
- The Quebec Nordiques make Mats Sundin the first ever European player drafted first overall.
- The Vancouver Canucks create a storm of controversy when they draft Pavel Bure in the 6th round when all teams were operating under the understanding that Bure - then no was ineligible after the third round. Vancouver later produced evidence that he should have been available.
- Bob Probert is sentenced to 3 months in jail for smuggling cocaine across the US-Canada border.
- Guy Lafleur signs with the Quebec Nordiques.
- After enduring terrible back pain from a herniated disc, Mario Lemieux is forced out of the lineup ending his 46 game scoring streak.
- Cam Neely explodes with a 55 goal season including 25 on the power play and 12 game winners. Ray Bourque adds 84 points and wins the Norris Trophy and is runner up for the Hart Trophy.
- Like father, like son. Bobby Hull was once hockey's great 50 goal scorer. His son Brett Hull now joins him, scoring his 50th goal on February 6th, 1990, en route to a 72 goal season!
- Wayne Gretzky leads the NHL in scoring again, with 142 points. Mario Lemieux finished with 123 despite missing 21 of the final 22 games.
- Mark Messier finish 2nd with 129 points, and Steve Yzerman third with 127 including 62 goals.
- Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard, one of the most controversial owners in sports history, passes away after a lengthy illness.