1988-1989 Season and Offseason Summary

The 1988-89 season brought no shortage of excitement.  The Calgary Flames took the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points, beating out Montreal’s 115.  The two top regular season teams met in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Flames winning in 6, to bring about the much anticipated and iconic moment of Lanny McDonald finally hoisting the Stanley Cup.  It was the first time since 1983 the Cup was not won on Alberta ice.  A Canadian team has been represented in the Stanley Cup Finals every season since 1980-81.  The Flames winning the Stanley Cup was also notable because it was the first time any team other than the Canadiens won the Cup in the Montreal Forum.

1989 Calgary Flames Stanley Cup Video

1989 Stanley Cup Finals Game 6



Don Cherry's Rock Em' Sock Em' Hockey 1989


The season was notable because of the trade that shook the hockey world and the sports world.  Wayne Gretzky was traded in the summer of 1988 after leading the Oilers to the Cup to the Los Angeles Kings.  The Kings changed their colors to black and silver, and their on-ice performance followed suit, moving from fourth-worst in the NHL to fourth-best.  To add insult to injury, the Kings also defeated the Oilers in the Smythe Division Semifinal.  This dramatic team turnaround was enough to sway voters as Gretzky was awarded the Hart Trophy (for the ninth time) over Mario Lemieux, who set a non-Gretzky point record of 199 points and won the Art Ross Trophy.  The Hart Trophy decision triggered a lot of debate and did not sit well with Lemieux.  Steve Yzerman, who tallied 155 points, took the Lester B Pearson Award for NHLPA MVP voted on by players.

Brian Leetch, burst onto the NHL scene for the New York Rangers scoring 23 goals, a record for rookie defensemen. He was awarded the Calder Trophy.

The NHL began to display advertising on its dasher boards.  Early reports are positive as teams are pleased with the additional income as player salaries are increasing.

In early May, A 1988 89th overall draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres courageously left his country, family, and life behind in the Soviet Union.  Playing at the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, Mogilny defected to the United States aided by Sabres’ employees Don Luce and Gerry Meehan.  After a process of FBI interviews, Mogilny was granted political asylum and on October 4th, the night before the Sabres’ opener vs. Quebec, Mogilny received his visa.  This is an historic development that opens many possibilities of Soviets playing in the NHL, as was evidenced with a wave of Russian signings and draft selections.


A wave of Soviet stars, riding the crest of glasnost, broke down barriers and signed to play with NHL teams. Slava Fetisov and Sergei Starikov inked in New Jersey. Alexandr Mogilny officially became a Sabre.  And Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov were brought into the Vancouver Canucks fold.

Some natives, however, remained suspicious and opposed.

In a story written by New Jersey correspondent Rich Chere, Flyers’ GM Bob Clarke was strong and candid with his feelings.

“I’ve never been in favor of the Soviets playing in the National Hockey League,” he said. “I have a lot of reasons in my own mind, one of which is probably prejudice.”

Clarke said the NHL was sending a lot of money to the Soviet federation, funds that could be used to develop homegrown talent, and he was concerned it would come back to haunt North American hockey.

Devils’ player rep Randy Velischek aired similar sentiments, while Vancouver forward Rich Sutter wondered how welcoming teammates would be.

“I just hope they know what they’re doing,” said Sutter of team management. “There are bound to be some guys upset over this thing. There are bound to be some guys who aren’t here because of it. Frankly, I was surprised they signed him. You worry about who is going to be there when he (Larionov) needs his teammates.”



The 1989 draft was held in Bloomington, Minnesota on June 17th.  The Quebec Nordiques selected Mats Sundin from the Nacka Hockey Club in Sweden with the 1st overall selection, followed by Dave Chyzowski (Islanders), Scott Thornton (Toronto), Stu Barnes (Winnipeg), and Bill Guerin (New Jersey).  Other notable selections include Bobby Holik 10th to Hartford, Mike Sillinger 11th to Detroit, Olaf Kolzig 19th to Washington, Adam Foote 22nd to Quebec, Nicklas Lidstrom 53rd to Detroit, Jason Wooley 61st to Washington, Kris Draper 62nd to Winnipeg, Sergei Federov from CSKA Moskow 74th to Detroit, and from the same team, Pavel Bure 113th to Vancouver.  Donald Audette was selected 183rd by Buffalo and Arturs Irbe 196th to Minnesota.  From that list, Chyzowski, Audette, and Kolzig are expected to play in their debuts this season.




The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted David Bauer, Herbie Lewis, Darryl Sittler, and Vladislav Tretiak this Summer.


Stan Fischler’s wrote in the hockey news, speculating on expansion, in light of struggling franchises in Winnipeg and Minnesota. There were reports that Jets owner Barry Shenkarow could get $42 million for the team from a Seattle group “if the Washington city ever builds its long-awaited arena.”


The Detroit Red Wings look to move on without Bob Probert.  The 23 year old Probert was arrested on March 2nd possessing cocaine crossing the Detroit/Windsor border.  He is currently serving 3 months in a Federal prison in Minnesota.  John Ziegler Jr. has suspended Probert indefinitely.  If Probert is reinstated, he will not be allowed to travel to Canada as he would not be permitted back into the United States.  Ziegler Jr.:  “if you use illegal drugs, you forfeit your right to play in the NHL.”


The Flyers will begin the season without goaltender Ron Hextall, who was suspended for 12 games for his attack on Chris Chelios of Montreal in Game 6 of their Wales Conference Final Series.  Philadelphia trailed, 4-2, with 1 minute 37 seconds left in the game May 11 when Hextall threw down his stick, left the crease, skated toward Chelios and attacked him. Several fights then erupted on the ice as spectators threw beer cups and other debris from the stands. Hextall was given a Match Penalty

Hextall Attacks Chelios in Game 6


Earlier in the playoffs, Hextall had scored against Washington, becoming the first goalie to score an NHL Playoff goal

Hextall Scores a Goal in the Playoffs


Retired players

Mark Napier, Buffalo Sabres

Hakan Loob, Calgary Flames

Lanny McDonald, Calgary Flames

Doug Halward, Edmonton Oilers

Tomas Jonsson, Edmonton Oilers

John Anderson, Hartford Whalers

Ron Duguay, Los Angeles Kings

Craig Hartsburg, Minnesota North Stars

Dennis Maruk, Minnesota North Stars (The last active player to have been a member of the California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons franchise.)

Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens

Billy Smith, New York Islanders

Marcel Dionne, New York Rangers

Anton Stastny, Quebec Nordiques

Mel Bridgman, Vancouver Canucks

Bengt Gustafsson, Washington Capitals


Some notable offseason transactions

June 9th - Detroit signed Marc Habscheid as a FA


June 12th - Detroit signed Borje Salming as a FA


June 15th - To Detroit: Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney

To St. Louis:  Adam Oates and Paul MacLean


June 16th - St. Louis signed Curtis Joseph as a FA


June 16th - To Toronto: Rob Ramage

To Calgary: 2nd round pick in 1989 (Kent Manderville)


June 17th - To Washington: Alan May

To Los Angeles: 5th round pick in 1989 (Thomas Newman)


June 17th - To Winnipeg: Randy Cunneyworth, Dave McLlwain and Rick Tabaracci

To Pittsburgh: Andrew McBain, Randy Gilhen and Jim Kyte


June 17th - To Quebec: Joe Cirella and Claude Loiselle

To New Jersey: Walt Poddubny and futures


June 17th - To Edmonton: Tommy Lehmann

To Boston: 3rd round pick in 1989 (Wes Walz)


June 17th - To Winnipeg: Greg Paslawski and 3rd round pick in 1989 (Kris Draper)

To St. Louis: 3rd round pick in 1989 (Denny Felsner) and 2nd round pick in 1991 (Steve Staios)


June 17th - To Islanders: Joe Reekie

To Buffalo: 6th round pick in 1989 (Bill Pye)


June 17th - To New Jersey: Sylvain Cote

To Hartford: Pat Verbeek


June 19th - To Minnesota: Gaeten Duchesne

To Quebec: Kevin Kaminski


June 27th - Boston signed Peter Douris and Alfie Turcotte as FA's


June 28th - Los Angeles signed Keith Crowder as a FA


June 28th - Pittsburgh signed Gilbert Delorme as a FA


June 29th - To Toronto: Lou Franceschetti

To Washington: 6th round pick in 1990


July 14th - Quebec signed Guy Lafleur as a FA

“I’m so happy to be back in Quebec,” said a teary-eyed Lafleur at a press conference. “I’m so happy to be given the opportunity to end my active career here.”



Kings Will Try to Sign Canadien Star Robinson

July 25, 1989|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

It's obviously a longshot and even owner Bruce McNall of the Kings admits that he's not optimistic about his chances of wooing longtime star defenseman Larry Robinson away from the Montreal Canadiens.

But Robinson is at least interested enough to be in Los Angeles this week for meetings with McNall and General Manager Rogie Vachon.

As the man who pulled off the trade for Wayne Gretzky likes to remind us: "Nothing is impossible in sports."

McNall was saying that again Monday as he waited for Robinson and his agent, Donny Cape, to arrive at his office to talk bottom line.

Robinson, who turned 38 last month, is a free agent. Montreal, his team of 17 seasons and the only National Hockey League team he has played for, has offered him a 15% raise based on an estimated yearly salary of $430,000.

The Canadiens also have a policy of giving veterans of 10 years or more a year's salary as separation pay upon retirement. If Robinson retired from another team, he wouldn't receive the separation pay.

But according to a report from Montreal, Robinson and Cape have asked for the 15% raise to include $150,000 in deferred payments that the Canadiens contend come under a separate contract with a brewery.

Robinson and Cape also have asked to have Robinson's jersey number retired when he leaves but Serge Savard, Montreal general manager, did not agree to that.

So Robinson is here to listen to the Kings.

McNall said: "I think probably something happened in Montreal. He must have some motivation to come here to see us. Maybe it would extend his career longer. Maybe it's the challenge. I don't think the money would be that much different unless he played longer with us.

"On the negative side, to pick up and move from a city where he's been for 17 years, where he has a house and kids in school and has endorsements--that would be very difficult.

"We'll do what we can to try to get him. When a player of this caliber comes along, that's pretty exciting. His kind of character is what we want in our organization."

Vachon, too, mentioned the value of Robinson as a leader, a role model in the dressing room. But, Vachon added: "He can still play. He was great in the Stanley Cup finals against Calgary, and that was his fourth round of the playoffs. He has been very durable. . . .

"We would be talking relatively short-term, but that's what we've been doing."

The Kings have invested a lot of money and have traded young players and draft picks to get experienced players who are counting on winning the Stanley Cup in the next two or three years, players such as Gretzky and goalie Kelly Hrudey.

The Kings led the NHL in goals last season, but adding a top defenseman or two is a priority.

Vachon said: "Larry Robinson plays with a lot of confidence and is very well respected, and I think he would have a very good effect on our young defensemen. . . . We're going to give this our best shot."


July 26th - Los Angeles signed Larry Robinson as a FA

Published: July 26, 1989

The free-agent defenseman Larry Robinson and the Los Angeles Kings reached an agreement in principal on a contract yesterday, the National Hockey League team said yesterday.

No details were released, but The Los Angeles Herald Examiner said the parties agreed on a two-year contract with an option for a third year that will pay the 38-year-old Robinson $1.5 million. Robinson played with the Montreal Canadiens for the past 17 seasons. The Canadiens have the option of matching the offer. (AP)

August 2nd - Quebec signed Lucien Deblois as a FA


August 7th - Chicago signed Al Secord as a FA


August 28th - To Boston: Bobby Gould

To Washington: Alain Cote


August 28th - To Winnipeg: Keith Acton and Pete Peeters

To Philadelphia: future considerations


August 28th - To Chicago: Jacques Cloutier

To Buffalo: futures



Quebec:   Greg C. Adams (from Vancouver)

Toronto:   Dave Hannan (from Pittsburgh)

Winnipeg:   Moe Mantha (from Philadelphia)

New Jersey:   Kent Nilsson (from Edmonton

Minnesota:   Dave Mackey (from Chicago)

Vancouver:   Craig Coxe (from Chicago)

Hartford:   Mikael Andersson (from Buffalo)

Washington:   Nick Kypreos (from Philadelphia)


October 4th - To Buffalo: Dean Kennedy

To Los Angeles: 4th round pick in 1991


October 5th – To Quebec:  Michel Petit

                          To Rangers:  Randy Moller




On August 23rd, Mario Lemieux signed a $12 Million contract to become the highest paid player in Pittsburgh sports history.  The deal will pay him $2 Million for the 1989-90 season.



Things seem to have gotten a little bit worse for the Edmonton Oilers coming out of training camp.  Their backstop, Grant Fuhr had an emergency appendectomy, and he is expected to miss at least the first 2 months of the season.  Bill Ranford will have to shoulder the load for the Oilers.

LA Times Article

Emergency Appendectomy May Sideline Oiler Goalie Fuhr for Up to Two Months

September 15, 1989|Associated Press


EDMONTON, Canada — Edmonton goaltender Grant Fuhr had an emergency appendectomy Thursday and will be out of action for up to two months, the Oilers announced.

Fuhr, 26, reported to the Oilers' dressing room Thursday morning complaining of pains in his abdomen. After being examined by teammate Randy Gregg, a doctor, he was sent to another doctor.

A surgeon later determined that Fuhr's appendix was in danger of rupturing, and a surgery was required immediately.

The Oilers said there was no indication Fuhr had been suffering from any symptoms of appendicitis before the incident.

Fuhr, the No. 1 goaltender as the Oilers won four Stanley Cups in five years ending in 1988 and the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the league's best at his position in 1988, had retired in the off-season over the National Hockey League's refusal to allow him to wear advertising on his goaltender pads.

He came out of retirement before training camp.

The Oilers announced Thursday the signing of goaltender Alexander Tyzhnych, 31, who played behind Vladislav Tretiak with the Red Army team.