Aug 9, 2013, 9:58 AM EDT
Twenty-five years ago today, hockey fans were shown that there is no such thing as a completely untouchable player. Even Wayne Gretzky in his prime, and fresh off his fourth Stanley Cup victory in just five years, could be dealt under the right set of circumstances.
On Aug. 9, 1988, that’s what happened. The Edmonton Oilers shipped Gretzky, Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a trio of first round picks (one was then traded to the New Jersey Devils, who picked Jason Miller, and the other two selections were spent on Martin Rucinsky and Nick Stajduhar), Martin Gelinas, Jimmy Carson, and $15 million.
That deal sent shock waves through Canada and simultaneously breathed new life into the Los Angeles Kings. Although Gretzky never won a Cup with the Kings while Edmonton would win one more time without The Great One, Gretzky helped demonstrate that hockey could work in non-traditional markets.
This anniversary has been used as an opportunity to reflect on the historic deal and we wanted to share some of that with you.
For example, Sportsnet has been extensively covering the anniversary all week, including a video series complete with interviews from the people that made that deal.
One of the most interesting quotes from that series came from then Oilers coach and GM Glen Sather.
He was against the trade when it happened, but Oilers owner Peter Pocklington forced his hand. Still, when asked to reflect on who won the deal, Sather said, “Well, I don’t know whether you ever win or lose in that kind of a deal, but you could say hockey won.”
That’s a sentiment that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently echoed to the Canadian Press.
“Remember thinking at the time that that demonstrated a huge step forward for hockey and its credibility,” Bettman said. “It was obviously something that, in the annals of sports, was one of those seminal events that gets a tremendous amount of attention because of its import and impact.”
Meanwhile, LA Kings Insider has been publishing interviews of people that were involved in the trade. Writer Jon Rosen talked with former Kings owner Bruce McNall, who discussed the immediate impact getting Gretzky had as far as fan interest was concerned. Rosen also got in contact with one of the Oilers players that got shipped with Gretzky, retired forward Krushelnyski.
The other side of the coin is Edmonton as its citizens were left trying to find themselves while Los Angeles celebrated. Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun took this opportunity to reflect on the trade from Edmonton and Canada’s perspective.
Towards the end of his piece, he shared an excerpt of the article he wrote 25 years ago in reaction to the trade:
Shock. Outrage. Anger. None of those emotions quite cover it, do they? The emotions we’re dealing with here are not unlike the death in a family. A death not by natural causes.
Wayne Gretzky is more than the greatest player in the history of hockey. He’s more than the most dominant team sport athlete in history. He’s that to the world. But to Edmonton, Wayne Gretzky was our mark on the map. This morning our city can only be in a state of mourning.
Finally, we’ll leave you with a clip of Wayne Gretzky addressing the media after the trade:
Jul 22, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
They locked him up to a four-year deal on Tuesday.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT
He spent last season playing in Switzerland.
Jul 22, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
The Cuban-American could help market the sport.
Jul 22, 2014, 7:38 PM EDT
Turning over a new leaf?
Jul 22, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT
That’s $1 million less than his reported asking price.
Jul 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
It’s believed to be worth $2.55 million overall.
Jul 22, 2014, 3:52 PM EDT
Another buy-low bargain like Mason Raymond?
Jul 22, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Jul 22, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
Also went to bat for Jumbo Joe.
Jul 22, 2014, 12:27 PM EDT
Coming off an impressive rookie season.
Jul 22, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT
How ’bout that headline for some alliteration.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT
His name is Kyle Dubas.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT
Click for the full schedule of games on NBC and NBCSN.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT
Had 14 goals and 15 assists, with 209 PIM, in 2013-14.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
Excited to join “the toughest team” the Leafs played last season,
Jul 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They didn’t make any big splashes this summer.
Jul 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
That and all the links to start your day.
Jul 21, 2014, 10:45 PM EDT
He does know what the advanced stats say though.
Jul 21, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
More depth for a Stanley Cup hopeful.
Jul 21, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT
Trade rumors around the Jets star never stop swirling.
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- Advancement? Leafs sign Booth for one year, $1.1M 16
- Leafs hire 28-year-old stats advocate as assistant GM 27
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 61
- Stars, Roussel agree on four-year, $8 million deal 3
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- Return that toaster: Ovechkin-Kirilenko engagement broken off 52
- Report: Leafs sign Franson to one year, $3.3 million deal 8
- Report: O’Reilly wants $6.7M deal, Avs counter at $5.5M 58
- Report: Blue Jackets, Johansen make ‘significant progress’ toward deal 5
- Kane, Toews could’ve commanded $13.8M cap hits, says agent (83)
- Babcock fires back over allegations that free agents avoid him (77)
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- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (65)
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation (61)