COVER

THE BLADES OF SUMMER

July 25 1988
COVER

THE BLADES OF SUMMER

July 25 1988

THE BLADES OF SUMMER

COVER

On May 26, after their fourth Stanley Cup victory in five years, the triumphant Edmonton Oilers packed up their hockey gear and scattered for the summer. Training camp for last season 's champions begins on Sept. 9. In their break from the rink, players are engaged in pursuits that include golf, travel—and getting married. Craig MacTavish, a 29-year-old Oiler centre, married Edmonton real estate agent Deborah Andrews on June 18 and honeymooned in Europe before returning for the Wayne Gretzky-Janet Jones wedding last week. Backup goaltender Bill Ranford, 21, married Kelly Atkinson on June k in New Westminster, B.C. Maclean’s Assistant Editor Anne Steacy and Calgary Bureau Chief John Howse looked at how some of the other boys of winter are spending their summer. Their report:

■ Glen Sather, president, general manager and coach

A tough fringe player in the National Hockey League who became the Oilers’ coach in 1977, Sather retreats to the Rocky Mountains during the summer. One of his favorite activities is golf— although he shoots too high to have a handicap. Said team publicist William Tuele: “He is a terrible golfer, but a very keen one.”

More accomplished as an angler, Sather occasionally travels by air to the Tree River off the Arctic Ocean to fish for arctic char and grayling. But the 44-yearold father of two teenage sons is spending most of the summer relaxing with his wife, Ann, at their log house in Banff, Alta. Still, with the rapid approach of the 1988-1989 hockey season, he is also spending hours on the telephone conducting long-distance contract negotiations with agents for unsigned players, including left winger Geoff Courtnall and defenceman Steve Smith.

Craig Simpson, No. 18, left winger

Single and 21, Simpson is channelling his energy into a full-time summer course in statistics at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University. The London, Ont., native—an undergraduate A student and business major at Duquesne—said that he plans to apply that credit toward the senior year of his degree program at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. Simpson was a centre on that university’s hockey team, and in June, 1985, the NHL’s central scouting bureau rated him as the

top choice in the league’s draft of prospective players. The Pittsburgh Penguins selected him that year. But last November, Pittsburgh sent Simpson and three other Penguins to Edmonton in exchange for star Oiler defenceman Paul Coffey and two other players.

Despite Simpson’s busy academic schedule, he said that he had begun light work-

outs on July 6. Declared Simpson: “By August, I’ll be going full blast getting into shape. After the playoffs ended on May 26, I really needed a break, but I’m itchy to start playing again.” Simpson has no complaints about the Oilers’ prolonged season. He added, “With the Penguins, we were always through early in April.”

Grant Fuhr, No. 31, goaltender

Dressed in bright-red plus fours and a matching visor, Fuhr—whose position

as the Oiler’s first-string goaltender is the most pressure-filled spot on the team—displayed his customary cheerful and relaxed manner as host of the Grant Fuhr Celebrity Golf Tournament in Stony Plain, near Edmonton, on July 10. On that sunny day, 25-year-old Fuhr and four other Oiler teammates raised $5,300 for local charities. In June,

Fuhr, who has a golf handicap of five, shot rounds of 77 and 78 on the par-72 Old Course at St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland—links that many golfers say are among the world’s most demanding.

Then, Fuhr and his wife, Corrine, visited Oiler right winger Esa Tikkanen and his wife, Lotta, at her family home in Bolinas, Sweden. The Fuhrs ended their European trip with a four-day holiday in Paris, where they met the newly wed MacTavishes. Said Fuhr: “With everyone speaking French there, we were all happy

to get into English.” On Aug. 28, Fuhr, who is also an excellent softball player, is scheduled to host a celebrity baseball tournament in Edmonton to raise funds for a drug-treatment centre for teenagers. Bates Games Inc., of Oakville, Ont., is also preparing to launch his board game, Grant Fuhr''s Breakaway Hockey Game, this fall. Declared Fuhr: “It is a great life. I am really enjoying it.”

Marty McSorley, No. 33, right winger and defenceman

Modest, soft-spoken Marty McSorley, 25 and a bachelor, exchanged his Oiler uni-

form for a tuxedo this season. Declared McSorley: “The first part of the summer was all weddings—now I’m broke.” A tough, combative player, McSorley is spending most of the off-season break quietly, reading—political science and history are among his favorite subjects—and visiting his family in Cayuga, Ont., 110 km southwest of Toronto. On June 11, he attended Oiler trainer Barry Stafford’s wedding to Jill Didow in Banff, Alta. Then, on the following Saturday, he was master of ceremonies

at teammate MacTavish’s wedding reception in Edmonton. And one week before the Gretzky-Jones wedding, he drove to Toledo, Ohio, to be best man at his brother Chris’s July 9 wedding.

Between those celebrations, McSorley made the final arrangements for his second annual Softball Allstar Day on July 23 in Cayuga. On that date, two teams composed of about 20 NHL players, including Oiler forwards Kevin McClelland and Keith Acton, are scheduled to face off on the diamond in order to raise money for minor-league sports in the town. And McSorley said that he plans to spend two weeks in Cayuga

next month providing hockey tips to aspiring players. Said McSorley: “It is a chance for me to give something back to the community.”

Mark Messier, No. 11, centre

He has acquired a reputation as a bulldozer on the ice—and a partygoer away from the rink. Last fall, Lesley Young, a New York City model, launched a paternity suit, which is still pending, against him (Messier

refuses to comment on the matter). But power centre Messier, 27 and single, is also a member of a closely knit family of six —and an active participant in Number Eleven Manufacturing Co., Ltd., an Edmonton-based clothing business named after the number on his Oiler sweater. In past summers, Messier modelled the sportswear that his sister, Mary-Kay, 25, and his mother, Mary-Jean, produced for an international market. However, the company went into receivership last January.

But there have been happier moments to celebrate this summer, among them Mary-Kay’s wedding on July 7 to Edmonton businessman Darrell Morrow in Kauai, Hawaii. Messier, the best man at that ceremony, spent two weeks on the island before the wedding helping with arrangements for the celebration, which Gretzky and Jones also attended.

Steve Smith, No. 5, defenceman

The six-foot, four-inch, 210-lb. former landscaper has embarked on an ambitious program to improve his new house in Edmonton’s posh southwestern suburb, Terwilger Heights. Said Smith, 25, a native of Glasgow whose parents brought him to Canada when he was an infant: “I am building an exotic backyard.” Among its features: a dog run for his two black Labrador retrievers, a raised patio—and a 10-person, all-season whirlpool hot tub. Before he began that project, Smith and his wife, Sheri, and fellow defenceman Jeff Beukeboom—who is the same height and weight as Smith and whose wife is also named Sheri—spent two weeks in Barbados.

There, the two couples celebrated the Beukebooms’ first wedding anniversary. Smith says that he plans to meet Beukeboom, Fuhr and Oiler defencemen Charlie Huddy and Craig Muni for a week of trout and pickerel fishing at the end of July at a lodge near Yellowknife, N.W.T. Said Smith, as he enjoyed a light beer at the third hole during Fuhr’s recent celebrity golf tournament: “I don’t want to think about hockey yet.”

Defenceman Muni has also been busy. Before participating in the Stony Plain tournament, he and his wife, Wendy, jetted from Edmonton to Toronto to attend her sister’s wedding in June. Then the Munis returned to Edmonton for MacTavish’s marriage ceremony before flying to Florida and the Bahamas for a two-week holiday. Said Muni, echoing feelings that are common to his teammates of winter: “Summer is short —and hectic.”