Many months ago I was over at Lowetide reading an article that was filling my brain with numbers when I came upon a comment that made me stop and think.
The 2008-09 season marked the 30th anniversary of the team. Gang was talking about then-captain Ethan Moreau, when Doogie said…
He’s the 15th captain in Oilers history. Everyone leaves Al Hamilton, Glen Sather, and Paul Shmyr out of the equation, including the club itself.
Doogie raises a pretty good point. What about those three captains?
Al Hamilton, Glen Sather and Paul Shmyr were the three captains of the Oilers before the jump to the NHL.
A little bit about the three –
Al Hamilton – the defencive stalwart from Flin Flon Manitoba is the only one of the three who really got his just desserts as a player. And desserts he deserved. His tenure with the Alberta / Edmonton Oilers lasted throughout their existence in the fledgling WHA. His best offensive output was in the ’72-’73 season where he finished with a fat 61 points. Hamilton’s number 3 deservedly waves in the rafters at Rexall Place.
Glen Sather shouldn’t really need an introduction – at least, Glen Sather the coach shouldn’t need much of an introduction. The winger Glen Sather did captain the ’76-’77 Oilers en route to a 53 point season before his coaching career. Sather was a member of the Edmonton Oilers organisation for five Stanley Cups (four as head coach, one as GM) during the glory years of the 1980s.
Defenceman Paul Shmyr was the third and final captain for the WHA Oilers, playing from 1977 to 1979 for the club. Shmyr was a no-nonsense kind of guy who took up for himself and his teammates when the circumstances arrived. A member of the ’74 Summit Series, Shmyr helped backstop the Oilers to an Avco Cup appearance in 1979, where they were defeated by the Winnipeg Jets in six games. After finishing his tenure with the Oilers, he played two season with the Minnesota North Stars (who were defeated in the Stanley Cup Finals by the New York Islanders in ’79-’80), and finished his pro career in 1981-82 with the Hartford Whalers. Sadly, Shmyr passed on in 2004 after a battle with throat cancer.
There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? I’m not calling for the team to retire Sather and Shmyr’s numbers, and I realize the WHA was but seven years of this team’s existence, but it’s kind of a slap in the face to the WHA era players to never speak of it. And really, I just briefly touched upon the three captains of the era. There’s a lot more hockey to be rediscovered.
Embrace your WHA heritage.
Without it, there’s no today.