Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Grant Fuhr, born on this date in 1952, led the Victoria Cougars to the WHL championship with a 48-9-1 record followed by a trip to the Memorial Cup Finals in 1981, which garnered the attention of the Edmonton Oilers, who drafted him 8th overall later that spring.
As a rookie, Fuhr immediately led the Oilers in games played with 48, compared to 29 for Ron Low and 8 for Andy Moog. While Fuhr rarely lost, he racked up a notable amount of ties, finishing the season with a 28-5-14 record, which set a new team mark for wins by a goaltender.
After a personally disappointing second season, in which the Oilers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Islanders, he bounced back in 1983-84 with a 30-10-4 record while splitting time with Moog. Fuhr also registered a remarkable 14 offensive points that season, setting a record for goaltenders which still stands to this day. He would play in 16 of the Oilers 19 playoff games, posting an 11-4 record on the way to the Oilers first Stanley Cup championship.
Before the next NHL season could begin, Fuhr began his international career when he was a member of Team Canada during the 1984 Canada Cup. His record in two games was 1-0-1.
The Oilers would again return to the finals in 1984-85 following a 26-8-7 record for Fuhr during the regular season. Fuhr would start all of Edmonton's playoff games, as they romped to their second consecutive championship with a 15-3 record in four rounds of playoffs.
Another fine regular season of 29-8-0 for Fuhr came in 1985-86, but the Oilers playoff run would fall short. The Oilers would regain their title the following season as things returned to normal for Edmonton. Fuhr was 22-13-3 during the regular season while still splitting time with Moog, and 14-5 in the playoffs.
Fuhr's international career continued when he was the goaltender for the NHL All-Stars in the two game Rendez-Vous '87 series against the Soviet Union during the season and was later the goaltender for Team Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup, in which he played in all nine Canadian games. Fuhr played brilliantly on his way to a 6-1-2 record as Canada won the tournament with a memorable 2 games to 1 defeat of the Soviet Union, with all three games being decided by one goal, two of which went into overtime. Fuhr was named the goaltender on the tournament All-Star Team.
Following Moog's departure after the season, Fuhr now assumed an unprecedented amount of work, appearing in 75 games and winning 40. The increased work load did not adversely affect Fuhr either, as he posted his lowest goals against average since his rookie season, which earned him the only Vezina Trophy of his career and second place in the voting for the Hart Trophy for the league's MVP.
The Oilers dynasty was confirmed as they marched through the playoffs virtually unimpeded, as they eliminated the Winnipeg Jets 4-1, swept the rival Calgary Flames 4-0, downed the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 and crushed the Boston Bruins 4-0 in the finals to win their fourth Stanley Cup in five years.
Fuhr remained with the Oilers for three more seasons as the team began to be dismantled, beginning with the famous trade of Wayne Gretzky in the summer of 1988. Still, the Oilers regrouped and captured their fifth championship in 1990, but did so without Fuhr, as he was limited to just 21 games that season and did not make a playoff appearance. The next season was similar, as Fuhr made just 13 regular season appearances, but was the Oilers goaltender of choice in the post season, but the Oilers fell short in the Conference Finals.
During this time period, Fuhr made his only World Championships appearance for Canada in 1989.
Prior to the start of the 1991-92 season, Fuhr was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a seven player trade. He became a workhorse for Toronto, playing 66 games that season. After playing 29 games of the 1992-93 season, Fuhr was dealt in February of 1993 after a season and a half in Toronto to the Buffalo Sabres. He played as many games in three months in Buffalo as he did in five months in Toronto.
With playing time hard to come by due to the presence of Domink Hasek in Buffalo, Fuhr played 32 games in 1994-95 and just 3 the following season before the Sabres moved Fuhr to the Los Angeles Kings for the remainder of the season after Hasek was able to establish himself as the starter following an injury to Fuhr.
His stay in Los Angeles was brief, as Fuhr would sign with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent for the 1995-96 season. In Fuhr, the Blues found their man and Fuhr was given the reins in goal, seeing action in a personal high 79 games, the same amount he played since being traded to the Sabres 2 1/2 seasons earlier.
He again did the heavy lifting in 1996-97 (73 games) and 1997-98 (58 games). While his workload was reduced to 39 games in 1998-99, in part due to a knee injury he suffered in the 1996 playoffs, Fuhr posted his fourth consecutive winning record while with the Blues. Playoff success eluded St. Louis however, and Fuhr was traded to the Calgary Flames for the 1999-00 season.
It was not a good year for the Flames though, as they were to finish last while Fuhr was used in a backup role to Fred Brathwaite. Fuhr was limited to 23 games, but the second of his five victories that season gave him 400 for his career (only the sixth goaltender in NHL history to reach that mark) in what turned out to be the final season, as he announced his retirement on September 6, 2000.
His final record shows 868 games played with 403 wins, 295 losses and 114 ties. His playoff record was 92-50 in 150 games, which led to his winning the Stanley Cup five times. He also played in six All-Star Games, being named the game's MVP in 1986 in Hartford.
Fuhr was both inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and had his #31 retired by the Oilers in 2003.
Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Edmonton Oilers Grant Fuhr jersey. This jersey features the Oilers 10th Anniversary patch - of being in the NHL, as the Oilers franchise dates back to 1972 when they were a founding member of the defunct World Hockey Association.
Here is footage from Fuhr's number retirement ceremony in Edmonton.
Here is Fuhr in St. Louis showing why he is considered one of the best.
Finally, a recent interview with Fuhr on shootouts and goaltending styles.