Fans of the sport were given a great gift with some fantastic 1980s hockey.
Some great moments, powerful teams, and record-breaking players became household names – and eventually legends of hockey.
Two 1980s hockey teams definitely stood out from the rest – the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders.
Out of the 10 Stanley Cups played throughout the decade, the Islanders and Oilers won eight of them – with four each.
The Edmonton Oilers won in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988 with the help of Wayne Gretsky, aka ‘The Great One.’ He was so great that the Hockey Hall of Fame completely waived the usual waiting period for induction and inducted him almost immediately after his retirement in 1999.
Gretsky had four seasons in which he scored over 200 points, and he was the only player to do so. He also held over 60 records in regular season, playoff, and All-Star games.
1988 brought some change with The Trade. Gretsky was traded to the Kings for $15 million, Jimmy Carson, and Martin Gelinas. Gretsky would not go unless two teammates, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski went with him. This upset Canadians to the point of attempts to have the government block the trade.
A teammate of Gretsky’s on the Oilers throughout the 80s, Mark Messier won the Conn Smythe Trophy for his outstanding performance during the 1984 playoffs. He took over as the unofficial leader of the Oilers after Gretsky was traded.
The Islanders won four years in a row starting in 1980, and had Bryan Trottier, Duane Sutter, Mike Bossy, Dennis Potvin, John Tonelli, Ken Morrow, and Clark Gillies. The Islanders went to the Finals for the first time, and they put an end to the 35-game winning streak of the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers were another strong team throughout the 80s. Though they missed the Stanley Cup in 1980, 1985, and 1987, they consistently made the playoffs. Some of their notable players were Dave Poulin, Pelle Lindbergh, Mark Howe, Ron Hextall, Darren Jensen, Brian Propp, and Tim Kerr.
The two teams that rounded out the decade were the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens. They faced off in the Finals twice, with the Canadiens taking the cup in 1986 and the Flames in 1989.
The Miracle on Ice - the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York brought us one of the best hockey games of all time. The young U.S. hockey team included amateur and college players; they seemed highly unlikely to beat the strong Soviet team. There was an enormous amount of political tension between the two countries at that time, which made the game even tenser.
With Herb Brooks as their coach, this young team played the best game of their lives on their way to winning the gold.
The U.S. team included All-Stars Neal Broton, Mike Ramsey, Dave Christian, and Mark Johnson. Also on the legendary team was Ken Morrow, who played for the Islanders and became the first player to win a gold medal and the Stanley Cup in the same year.
These great teams and players throughout 1980s hockey piqued the world’s interest and got an entire generation hooked on the sport.