Wednesday

Dave Lumley

Glen Sather did a fantastic job building the Edmonton Oilers into the most exciting and perhaps best team in NHL history. The exploits of Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Fuhr, Coffey and Anderson are well told. But Sather also realized that his team needed great role players and dressing room leaders in order to make this collection of great talents gel. In that sense, Dave Lumley played an integral role in the formation of the dynastic Oilers teams.

Sather probably saw a lot of himself in Lumley the player. Affectionately known as "Lummer" by his teammates, Dave was an energetic third or fourth line winger for much of his career. He was never one to complain if he sat on the bench for all but a few minutes of the game. Instead of sulking he'd make the best of his usual 10-12 minutes on the ice, using spirited enthusiasm to use his precious few shifts wisely. Often he was thrown out on the ice only when Sather felt the Oilers needed to change the tempo of the game if things were not going the Oilers way.

While his on-ice attitude was important, it was his off-ice contributions that truly helped the great Oilers gel. Lummer's natural enthusiasm, charisma and leadership abilities helped concoct one of the strongest team chemistries the league has ever seen. He always had a story to tell or a prank to pull that kept the team loose. He just had that intangible ingredient which every team needs, particularly a young team like the Oilers were.

Lummer was a long shot to make the NHL to begin with. He took the then-unconventional route to the NHL with the ECAC's University of New Hampshire, where he also played varsity lacrosse. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1974, but was the team's 17th selection, 199th overall.

He turned pro in 1977 and spent the next two years in the Habs' minor league team in the AHL. He did play well, and was rewarded with a 3 game appearance with the Habs in 1978-79.

Lumley and fellow farmhand Dan Newman were traded to the Edmonton Oilers in June of 1979 in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick in 1980 Entry Draft. Montreal went on to select Ric Natress with that selection.

Lummer immediately stepped into the Oilers line up in 1979-80 - the first year of the Oilers in the NHL. Lumley even chipped in offensively with 20 goals and 58 points, not to mention his 138 PIM.

Lumley slumped badly in 1980-81, but rebounded with a career year in 1981-82 with 32 goals and 74 points despite playing in just 66 games. Needless to say Lumley's career year was greatly aided by Wayne Gretzky, who he played with much of the season. The highlight of the season was a 12 game goal scoring streak, just 4 shy of the NHL record, in which he scored 15 goals.

Following that year Lumley settled into his lesser role on the third and fourth lines as names like Kurri and Anderson blossomed into NHL talents. It also marked the first time that the Oilers would win the Stanley Cup. Lumley played an important role in the 1984 Finals against the New York Islanders. Lumley's job was to distract Isle's starting goalie Billy Smith. At every opportunity Lumley would take small shots at or "accidentally" collide with the goalkeeper. He would also verbally abuse him too, in order to keep the goalie off of his game. It worked as the Oilers won their first Cup, and ended the Isle's 4 year reign as champs. Lumley even scored what proved to be the Cup clinching goal in the final game.

By 1984-85 the Oilers exposed Lumley on the pre-season waiver draft and he was claimed by the Hartford Whalers. Later in the season the Whalers waived Lumley, and the Oilers eagerly snapped up their energetic leader just in time for another Stanley Cup ring.

Lumley retired during the 1986-87 season. While his name will never hang in the rafters of Edmonton's arena like so many others will, but he will always hold a special place in the hearts of that team, and of their fans.

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