When the preliminary rosters were revealed for the Heritage Classic alumni game on Friday, it seemed like the Edmonton Oilers had the decisive edge over their Winnipeg Jets counterparts.
After all, the Oilers oldies are littered with stars from their 1980s heyday when they won four Stanley Cups in five years – and then added another in 1990.
But perception isn’t always reality. So do the Oilers really have a distinctive edge? The short is yes they certainly do.
Here’s a breakdown of a few key categories that give a good indication as to which team will should win the big exhibition game at Investors Group Field on Oct. 22.
Average age on game day: Both 54 years.
The Oilers are younger by days. Replacing Dwayne Roloson with Grant Fuhr, who according to Wayne Gretzky can’t play because of his ailing knees, lowers the average age for Edmonton. Roloson last played for Tampa Bay in 2012 and is more than seven years younger than Fuhr.
Total points: Oilers: 14,300. Jets: 10,104.
With 2,857 points, Gretzky makes up nearly 20 percent of Edmonton’s grand total. Add Mark Messier (second all-time), Coffey (13th) and Kurri (20th) and the Oilers have four off the sport’s greatest offensive players. Teemu Selanne and Dale Hawerchuk are the Jets stars. They sit 15th and 19th, respectively, on the career points list.
*Note: The totals of Oilers’ Blair MacDonald and Jets’ Mike Ford include their time in the World Hockey Association.
Best career save percentage: Oilers: .898. Jets: .895.
This is another category where exchanging Roloson for Fuhr could be a plus. Fuhr is far more decorated than Roloson with a Vezina Trophy, four Stanley Cups and a Hall of Fame ring to his name. However, because he played the bulk of his career in the 1980s and early 1990s when goal scoring was more pronounced, Fuhr’s save percentage is .887. Roloson’s is .908. That boosts the Oilers’ average as Roloson joins Bill Ranford in October. Bob Essensa is the only Winnipeg netminder named to date.
Major individual awards (excluding all-star selections): Oilers: 42. Jets: 5.
Gretzky owns 31 awards all by himself. He could have had five more if the Rocket Richard Trophy existed during the prime of his career. Messier is next with five, while Ranford (Conn Smythe), Coffey (three Norrises), Kevin Lowe (King Clancy) and Kurri (Lady Byng) round out the trophy list. Selanne leads the way for the Jets with three awards – a Calder Trophy, a Rocket Richard and a Masterton. He would have had two more Richard Trophies had it existed earlier. Hawerchuk (Calder) and Kris King (Clancy) are the other Jets recipients.
Most Stanley Cup rings (players only): Oilers: 60. Jets: 1.
Unsurprisingly, this category is even more one-sided than the last. The Oilers roster consists of seven players with at least five Stanley Cup titles on their resumes. Only Roloson, MacDonald and fan favorite Ryan Smyth are Cup-less. Selanne is the only Jets winner and he earned his silver chalice with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
Hall of Famers: Oilers: 5. Jets: 1.
Coffey, Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Glenn Anderson all have plaques in Toronto. Hawerchuk is the only Jet enshrined so far, but Selanne is a lock when he becomes eligible next year.