Former Oilers head scout Barry Fraser, whose shrewd draft picks helped build a hockey dynasty in Edmonton, has died at 82, the team announced Sunday.
The Oilers revealed in a Twitter post that Fraser died Sunday in Edmonton. The cause of death was not released.
“He was a fun guy to be around, everybody [that had got to know him] loved the guy, even the opposing scouts around the league — he got along with people very well,” said former Oilers coach and general manager Glen Sather.
“He worked with me and the Oilers for [about] 15-18 years. We got along well, I listened to his decisions and his advice on who we should draft.”
Fraser was one of the architects of the great Oiler teams of the 1980s and ’90s.
We extend our condolences to the family & friends of five-time <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Oilers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Oilers</a> Stanley Cup champion Chief Scout Barry Fraser, who passed away in Edmonton this morning. <a href=”https://t.co/l954KiTeQ9″>pic.twitter.com/l954KiTeQ9</a>
After being named the team’s director of scouting in 1979, the Kirkland, Ont. native was credited with drafting future Hall of Famers Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr.
The franchise went on to win five Stanley Cups in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990.
“He picked a lot of great players for us. We had a very young team. Of course, they grew up together and became a lot of all-stars and Hall of Fame guys,” Sather said.
“You could really go down the list and you know that team was drafted by the Oilers, but it was really on the advice of Barry Fraser, and I don’t think scouts get enough credit from the general fan. If you’re trying to build a team and you have a good scouting staff, you got a good chance to get better.”
In the 1987 Stanley Cup final, which Edmonton won 4-3, Fraser turned his back on then-Philadelphia Flyers coach Mike Keenan who attempted to shake his hand following a game. Keenan, according to Sather, would send players out to fight when games were out of reach.
“[Fraser] was an outgoing character, he was fun to be around, but he was also very serious about his job and about winning and losing — hated to lose,” Sather said.
Fraser put his stamp, not only on the Oilers, but on the league.
“If you look at the record of that team, I would think that that’s the impact that he had on the game. We really did a lot of things that were not normal In the NHL in those days,” Sather said.
“And Barry was part of that team. We had a lot of good people. We all worked together as a team. And it wasn’t nearly as big as the teams are today as far as personnel are concerned, but Barry worked very hard. He was probably in Europe half a dozen to a dozen times a year. He worked hard and that’s what it took.”