Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (2024)

ByNadine Yousif,BBC News, Toronto

Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (1)Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (2)Getty Images

Some of Shelina Gwaduri's earliest memories are of huddling around the family TV to watch the Edmonton Oilers play.

Once, she and her older brother, Karim, went to a game and stayed to meet superstar player Wayne Gretzky, the franchise's captain at the time.

“From when I was born basically, the Oilers were in my blood,” the 43-year-old, who now lives in Vancouver, told the BBC.

Her brother died suddenly four years ago.

Now, she wears his Oilers jersey during every game, including as she watched her home team clinch a miraculous comeback against the Florida Panthers in this year’s Stanley Cup finals.

The Edmonton Oilers are now one win away from earning the greatest prize in the National Hockey League (NHL), playing their final game against Florida on Monday in the best-of-seven series.

Should the Oilers succeed, they would become the first Canadian NHL team to win the championship since 1993, when the Montreal Canadiens beat the Los Angeles Kings. It would also be the Oilers' first Stanley Cup win since 1990.

But the team is on the precipice of something even rarer: not since 1945 has a team come back from a 3-0 loss to tie a series in the Stanley Cup final. They are only the third team in NHL history to achieve such a feat.

And only one other team - the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 - came back from such a deficit and won the cup.

Fans like Ms Gwaduri say a win for Edmonton would be a significant milestone even in the storied history of the team, which was once home to Gretzky, who many argue is the greatest ice hockey player of all time.

His team’s winning streak in the 1980s earned Edmonton the nickname “City of Champions”.

A win would also be a point of pride for Canada, where dedicated fans have been anxiously waiting decades to see the Stanley Cup return to the birthplace of modern hockey.

Ms Gwaduri said that even her husband, a die-hard fan of the Oilers’ rival team the Vancouver Canucks, is excited about the potential win.

“It’s bringing all of us together in the excitement of ‘Oh my god, is this actually happening?’” she said.

Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (3)Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (4)Shelina Gwaduri

Once arguably the greatest team in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers have been down on their luck for a long time.

In 2006, the team climbed their way to the Stanley Cup finals with the hopes of securing a sixth title, only to suffer a crushing Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The period that followed became known as “The Decade of Darkness”.

But in 2015, the Oilers signed Connor McDavid - then a 19-year-old hockey phenom from the Toronto area.

The young, gifted player proved to be a generational talent, said Daniel Nugent-Bowman, who covers the franchise for sports publication The Athletic.

“That term gets tossed around pretty loosely, but he is the definition of a generational player,” Mr Nugent-Bowman told the BBC.

McDavid is known for his dazzling skills on the ice, with a speed and accuracy few other players rival.

“If his career ended today, he would be in the Hall of Fame and would go down as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, and that’s at 27 years old, without a Stanley Cup,” Mr Nugent-Bowman said.

But it would take nine years after McDavid’s signing for the Oilers to once again compete for the Cup.

“This journey hasn’t happened overnight,” Mr Nugent-Bowman said.

The dramatic comeback and the team's perseverance against the Florida Panthers only adds to the excitement for Monday.

“I’m a big fan of really good stories,” said Travis Sengaus, who cheers for rival team the Calgary Flames but who is excited nonetheless about Edmonton’s success.

Mr Sengaus recalled other miraculous rebounds in sports history, like when the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, becoming the first - and still only - team to return from a 3-0 series deficit in Major League Baseball.

Or when LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in 2016 to win the National Basketball Association championship after trailing behind for much of the series.

It is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball finals of all time.

The Oilers, he said, are on the cusp of their own great story - one that's “very hard to resist”.

Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (5)Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (6)Getty Images

The Florida Panthers, of course, have their own story. A relatively new franchise - created 31 years ago, the same year a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup - the Miami-based team is hungry for its first-ever championship.

They came close last year, but lost four out of five games in the finals to the Vegas Golden Knights.

While Florida is not known for its winter sports, ice hockey fandom in the state swelled after the recent success of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021.

Ahead of Monday's match-up, Panthers' coach Paul Maurice said he is "not concerned about the past at all".

"The concern of the previous three games certainly didn’t affect Edmonton and it won’t affect us," he said.

Meanwhile, the Oilers' coach Kris Knoblauch said he is just enjoying the ride.

"Not just because we're going to Game 7, but I think we were having a great time when we were down three games," he said.

The series is being fervently followed by tens of thousands of passionate fans in Edmonton, the northernmost city in North America with a population of just over one million people, known for its freezing cold winters and enduring resolve.

Spencer Bennett, a teacher in the Edmonton area, said his school streamed Game 6 during its middle school graduation ceremony.

“It was amazing. We were all just cheering and high-fiving and screaming at the top of our lungs,” he said.

When he and the students sang Oh Canada when it was played during the game's livestream, it was like “having 16,000 of my closest friends singing our national anthem together”.

Mr Nugent-Bowman, who was inside the arena, said it was “the loudest I have ever heard that building”.

“Hockey means everything to Edmonton,” he said, even though the younger generations likely cannot recall the heyday of Gretsky’s reign.

“There’s been just so many lean years, and people have been waiting so long in Edmonton for another team like that of the 80s.”

For Ms Gwaduri, a win is a chance for Edmonton to live up to its nickname once again.

“The new generation can now see that this was the City of Champions, and it still is,” she said.

She plans on watching the final game of the season with her husband and children, along with extended family members.

“It’ll be almost like we’re back in the 80s and 1990 with my family, coming together and watching (the team) potentially holding up that Cup.”

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Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback (2024)


Edmonton Oilers on brink of history after Stanley Cup finals comeback? ›

It would also be the Oilers' first Stanley Cup win since 1990. But the team is on the precipice of something even rarer: not since 1945 has a team come back from a 3-0 loss to tie a series in the Stanley Cup final. They are only the third team in NHL history to achieve such a feat.

What is the biggest comeback in NHL history? ›

Aftermath. The "Miracle on Manchester" remains the biggest single-game comeback in Stanley Cup playoffs history. The Kings clawed their way back from a 5–0 deficit to start the third period to win the game in overtime.

How many times have the Oilers been to the Stanley Cup Finals? ›

Edmonton Oilers
CaptainConnor McDavid
Minor league affiliatesBakersfield Condors (AHL) Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL)
Stanley Cups5 (1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90)
Conference championships8 (1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90, 2005–06, 2023–24)
17 more rows

Did Oilers win a cup after Gretzky? ›

Edmonton won back-to-back Stanley Cups again in 1986–87 and 1987–88. At the close of the 1987–88 season, the Oilers shocked the hockey world by trading national icon Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. The 1989–90 season saw Messier lead the Oilers to one more Stanley Cup, proving the team could be great without Gretzky.

Where can I watch the Stanley Cup finals? ›

How to watch Stanley Cup Game 7 Oilers vs. Panthers. Game 7 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals will be broadcast on ABC and available to stream on Sling TV or with a subscription to fuboTV.

Has there ever been a 3-0 comeback in NHL Finals? ›

Successful comebacks

In Stanley Cup Playoffs history, 211 teams had faced a 3–0 deficit in a best-of-seven series. Of these teams, only four overcame the deficit – a success rate of just under 2% – and only one overcame the deficit in the Stanley Cup Finals.

How many 3-0 comebacks are there in NHL? ›

How many teams have overcome a 3-0 series deficit in the NHL playoffs? The 1942 Leafs are one of just four teams in NHL postseason history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. The others are the 1975 New York Islanders, 2010 Philadelphia Flyers and the 2014 Los Angeles Kings.

Why did the Edmonton Oilers change their name? ›

However, when the Broncos folded before the WHA's first season began, the Edmonton Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers. They returned to using the Edmonton Oilers name for the 1973–74 season, and have been called that ever since.

Does Gretzky own the Oilers? ›

Gretzky made a return to the NHL in October 2016, this time as a minority partner and vice-chairman of the parent company of the Edmonton Oilers, the Oilers Entertainment Group.

How many Stanley Cups does Gretzky have? ›

In June 1978, he signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association (WHA), where he briefly played before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. When the WHA folded, the Oilers joined the NHL, where he established many scoring records and led his team to four Stanley Cup championships.

What were the Edmonton Oilers called before? ›

The Alberta Oilers debuted in the World Hockey Association in 1972, one of a dozen teams that included the New England Whalers, Los Angeles Sharks, Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques. In 1979, the WHA folded and the renamed Edmonton Oilers joined the National Hockey League.

Which team has won the most Stanley Cups? ›

Which team has hoisted the Stanley Cup the most times? That would be the Montreal Canadiens, with 24 titles. Next are the Toronto Maple Leafs, with 13 championships, followed by the Detroit Red Wings, the winners of 11 Stanley Cups.

What are some fun facts about the Edmonton Oilers? ›

10The Oilers' home arena is Rogers Place. 11Former Oilers player Mark Messier holds the NHL record for the most playoff game-winning goals. 12The Oilers retired the jersey numbers of several legendary players. 13Edmonton Oilers fans are known for their passionate and dedicated support.

Where is the Stanley Cup 2024? ›

2024 Stanley Cup Finals
* – Denotes overtime period(s)
Location(s)Edmonton: Rogers Place Sunrise: Amerant Bank Arena
CoachesEdmonton: Kris Knoblauch Florida: Paul Maurice
CaptainsEdmonton: Connor McDavid Florida: Aleksander Barkov
10 more rows

Who made the Stanley Cup? ›

The Stanley Cup, notably the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America, was donated in 1892 by Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the Earl of Derby.

Who is broadcasting the Stanley Cup finals in 2024? ›

ABC will be handling broadcasts of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, so tune in there if you're watching with cable or satellite TV for tonight's Game 7. Fans can also watch Game 7 on ESPN+, Sportsnet, and Sportsnet+.

What is the biggest loss in NHL history? ›

The worst loss in NHL history belongs to the New York Rangers when they lost 15-0 to the Detroit Red Wings on January 23, 1944. This loss was so outstanding that the record has stood for 76 years, despite tens of thousands of NHL games having been played since.

What is the biggest win in NHL history? ›

1Red WingsW 15-0
2OilersW 13-0
3North StarsW 15-2
4Maple LeafsW 13-0
24 more rows

What is the biggest upset in NHL history? ›

Greatest Stanley Cup Upsets #1: 1982 Divison Semifinals

The Edmonton Oilers came into the series boasting players such as Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kuri, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey, but the Los Angeles Kings found a way to upset the powerhouse Oilers.

Has any NHL team come back from 5 0? ›

This has happened six times in NHL history so is not as uncommon as you suspect: 1982-04-10, Edmonton vs Los Angeles (playoffs) 1987-01-26, Calgary vs Toronto. 1999-03-03, Colorado vs Florida.

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