On ‘Back To the Future Day’ we take a look at 1985, wonder if McFly would like today’s game

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By @MichaelCaples –

Happy #BackToTheFutureDay, everyone!

To celebrate the day that Doc Brown and Marty McFly officially arrived in the future during their iconic “Back To the Future Part II” feature film, we’re taking a look back at the year 1985, for a frame of reference on how things have changed in hockey.

Sure, we don’t have hoverboards or flying cars, but the game has advanced, that’s for sure.

Here are some ‘what things were like in 1985’s hockey world’ bits of information:



  • From LegendsOfHockey.net
    From LegendsOfHockey.net

    The Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup, with Glen Sather’s club besting Mike Keenan and the Philadelphia Flyers four games to one. It was the Oilers’ second Stanley Cup victory in as many seasons.

  • Wayne Gretzky scored 73 goals and added 135 assists for a whopping 208 points – the next season, he would record 215.
  • John Ogrodnick posted 55 goals and 105 points to lead the Red Wings. Steve Yzerman – in his sophomore season – recorded 89 points while dealing with major Hockeytown fanfare. Greg Stefan was the main guy between the pipes for the Wings, recording a 21-19-3 record.
  • Scotty Bowman was coaching the Buffalo Sabres, and they were eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
  • Nick Polano was coaching the Red Wings, and they too were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
  • Players born in the 1984-85 window that we glanced at include Alex Ovechkin, David Booth, Drew Miller, Matt Hunwick and TJ Hensick.
  • The No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NHL Draft was Wendel Clark. The No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks have Michigan ties – Michigan State’s Craig Simpson was selected No. 2 overall, while Grosse Pointe native Craig Wolanin (father of former Muskegon Lumberjacks captain and recent Ottawa Senators draftee Christian Wolanin) was drafted No. 3 overall.
  • Each round of the draft had only 21 picks, and they drafted through 12 rounds.
  • Other notable draftees included Sean Burke, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Richter, Steve Chiasson, Chris Luongo, Danton Cole and Stu Grimson.
  • In a ‘sign of the times’ moment, we were amused to see Chris Luongo’s draft profile, which had his previous team listed as ‘St. Clair Shores of the NAJHL.’
  • Joe Louis Arena was six years old.
  • And by the way, Dylan Larkin enters the world 11 years later.


  • MSU coach Tom Anastos (photo courtesy of MSU)
    MSU coach Tom Anastos (photo courtesy of MSU)

    Michigan State was a No. 1 seed in the 1985 NCAA Tournament, but fell in the first round to Providence. Lake Superior State made the tournament as a No. 4 seed, but lost to eventual national-title winner Rensselaer (RPI).

  • Michigan State was led by Craig Simpson, Tom Anastos, Dale Krentz, Kelly Miller, Lyle Phair and Mike Donnelly.
  • Lake Superior was led by Allan Butler, Nick Palumbo, Scott Johnson, Keith Martin and Jim Roque.
  • The University of Michigan was led by Brad Jones, Tom Stiles, Chris Seychel and Ray Dries. Red Berenson was in his first season as head coach.
  • Peter Karmanos, Jr. bought the Windsor Compuware Spitfires in time for the 1984-85 season.
  • There were no Michigan-based OHL franchises at the time.
  • The 1984-85 edition of the NAHL (according to HockeyDB) had three teams in it – St. Clair Shores Falcons, Compuware and Buffalo Jr. Sabres – and the league was fresh off being called the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League.


Now that you’ve got some perspective on how long ago that was – sorry to the names mentioned above, we’re not trying to make you feel old – it sure is fun to think about how the game has changed since.

When Gretzky was leading the Oilers to their second Stanley Cup, he was doing so with his iconic blue Jofa helmet and Titan wood stick. The Great One was still five years away from endorsing Easton’s fancy HXP 5100 aluminum stick, a product that revolutionized the hockey equipment industry.

In 1995, the composite blade was introduced, creating yet another game-changer for performance, durability and cost for a player’s twig (ironic that we still call it that, huh?). The Synergy, Easton’s first one-piece composite stick, didn’t hit stores until 15 years after McFly hopped in the DeLorean and started traveling through time (on the silver screen, of course).

Stick revolutions aside, hockey has been constantly improving due to technology – and in a “Back To the Future” tribute post, how could we not talk about it. Think about all the changes. We’ve got seamless glass, games being played outdoors in California and skates that weigh less than some sneakers. We’ve also seen some things that could be taken from deleted scenes from “Back To The Future” like the Fox glowpuck, the CCM X-Ray helmet and T-Blades.

No flying Zambonis just yet, but hey, that wouldn’t work very well, would it.

We wonder what Marty McFly would have thought of ‘today’s hockey world.’ It’s easy to assume he didn’t know too much about the sport, considering he grew up in Hill Valley, Calif. Sure, he had the Kings to watch growing up, but Gretzky didn’t show up in Tinseltown until McFly would be in college. We’ve got a feeling, however, that the oddball Doc Brown was a season ticket holder well before The Great One made hockey ‘cool’ out west.

So if McFly showed up in Cali today, he’d see an abundance of hockey. Three NHL teams, a growing youth hockey community, and you know, hockey fans in general. That would probably be pretty foreign to him, but it couldn’t be as weird as that holographic Jaws that tries to eat him.

We think he would really enjoy today’s game, too. It’s faster than his hoverboard, after all.


How could we not include this picture in this article?