Steve Larmer's Legendary Battles with the Edmonton Oilers

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28 on 28: Steve Larmer’s Legendary Battles with the Edmonton Oilers

Chicago Blackhawks

It’s time for us to once again remind fans young and old that Steve Larmer should have had his number retired by the Blackhawks years ago — and he should have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame decades ago.

The schedule makers at the NHL did me a favor this month, putting the Blackhawks in Edmonton on the 28th of the month. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while because Larmer’s Blackhawks teams had some incredible, legendary battles with the Oilers back in the day.

Unfortunately, the Oilers teams of the 1980s were stacked with future Hall of Famers and kept the Blackhawks out of the Stanley Cup Final the entire decade.

During the regular season, Larmer enjoyed a lot of success against the Oilers in what were usually high-scoring affairs. Over the course of his career, Larmer scored 19 goals (including three game-winners) and added 27 assists for 46 points in 36 games.

While Larmer was with the Blackhawks (between 1982-83 and 1992-93) he averaged 1.32 points per game against the Oilers. Only eight skaters who appeared in at least 20 games against Edmonton during that period of time averaged more points per game against the Oilers that Larmer — and seven of them is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. They are: Wayne Gretzky (ironically), Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Denis Savard, Luc Robitaille, Bernie Nicholls, Marcell Dionne and Doug Gilmour. Only Nicholls isn’t in the Hall from that list.

But the postseason was where the two teams really went to work on each other. Unfortunately, those Oilers teams were all-time stacked and Chicago rarely did much against them.

In 1983 — Larmer’s rookie season that saw him win the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year — the Blackhawks advanced all the way to the Campbell Conference Finals where Edmonton was waiting. Tony Esposito and Murray Bannerman didn’t stand much of a chance; the Oilers swept the Blackhawks in four games thanks to Hall of FamersGretzky (12 points), Glenn Anderson (8 points), Jari Kurri (8 points) and Mark Messier (6 points in 3 games). The Party line of Larmer, Savard and Al Secord combined for 17 points in the four game, however.

Two years later the Blackhawks faced the Oilers in the Campbell Conference Finals again. Larmer scored four times in six games in this series, which was second on the team behind (now Calgary Flames head coach) Darryl Sutter‘s five. But Edmonton had four players with at least 14 points in the six-game series, led by Gretzky’s 18 points.

The next time the Blackhawks got the Oilers in the playoffs was in 1990, and it was in the Campbell Conference Finals once again. This time, Edmonton was without Gretzky; he was an LA King. But Messier had 11 points in the six-game series that the Oilers won once again. Larmer finished that series tied with Savard for the team lead with three goals in the series.

Chicago turned the tables on Edmonton in 1992 when they met in the Campbell Conference Finals for fourth time in a decade. The Blackhawks beat the Oilers this time, sweeping them to finally get over the hump. Larmer finished that series tied with Jeremy Roenick for the team lead with eight points (both had four goals and four assists) in the four-game series. Sadly, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins were waiting for the Hawks in the Cup Final and that series only last four games as well.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab