How Did the Edmonton Oilers Get Their Name?

The Edmonton Oilers, one of the most storied franchises in the NHL, boast a name that reflects the rich history and vibrant culture of Edmonton, Alberta. From their inception in the World Hockey Association (WHA) to their dominance in the NHL, the Oilers' name has become synonymous with hockey excellence. Let's explore the origins of this iconic name and the history of the franchise.

The Birth of a Franchise

The Edmonton Oilers were founded in 1971 as one of the 12 inaugural teams of the World Hockey Association (WHA). The team brought professional hockey to Edmonton, a city with a deep love for the sport and a rich amateur hockey tradition. The Oilers quickly became a central part of the local sports scene.

The Naming Process

When establishing the team, the owners sought a name that would resonate with the local culture and economy. Edmonton, known as the "Oil Capital of Canada," has a robust oil industry integral to its economy. This industry is a major employer and has significantly contributed to the city's growth and prosperity.

The name "Oilers" was a natural fit, paying homage to Edmonton's economic backbone and resonating with the community. It also honored the original Edmonton Oilers, a team that played in the Alberta Senior Hockey League and later the Western Canada Hockey League in the 1950s.

Transition to the NHL

In 1979, the WHA merged with the NHL, and the Edmonton Oilers were one of four WHA teams admitted into the league. The Oilers' entry into the NHL marked the beginning of a new era for the franchise.

The Gretzky Era

The arrival of Wayne Gretzky in 1978, before the WHA-NHL merger, transformed the Oilers into a powerhouse. Gretzky, often considered the greatest hockey player of all time, led the team to unprecedented success. Under his leadership, the Oilers won five Stanley Cup championships in seven years (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990). The team also featured other hockey legends, including Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, and Grant Fuhr.

Post-Gretzky Years

After Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, the Oilers faced challenges but continued to compete at a high level. They captured their fifth Stanley Cup in 1990, led by Mark Messier. However, the following years saw the team struggle with consistency and rebuild.

The Modern Era

The Oilers experienced a resurgence in the mid-2000s, making a memorable run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. Despite falling short to the Carolina Hurricanes, the team's performance reignited passion among fans.

The 2010s brought another rebuilding phase, highlighted by the drafting of Connor McDavid in 2015. McDavid, an exceptional talent, quickly became the face of the franchise and one of the NHL's brightest stars. With McDavid and other key players, the Oilers are poised for a new era of success.

Legacy and Impact

The name "Oilers" has become synonymous with excellence and resilience in the hockey world. It reflects Edmonton's economic heritage and the city's spirit of hard work. The Oilers have built a storied legacy, becoming one of the NHL's most beloved teams.


The Edmonton Oilers' name is more than just a moniker; it is a tribute to the city's industrious roots and its love for hockey. The name encapsulates Edmonton's essence and its community, serving as a proud symbol of the city's rich history and passion for the sport. As the Oilers continue to make history on the ice, their name remains a testament to their origins and the city they represent.