Aug 9, 2013, 9:58 AM EST
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:
Dec 10, 2013, 3:02 PM EST
We’re about to find out.
Dec 10, 2013, 2:42 PM EST
A loaded Detroit roster gets… more loaded.
Dec 10, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
‘Hawks no like.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:53 PM EST
For the second time this season.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:40 PM EST
Chicago’s goalie depth about to be tested.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:36 PM EST
It really wasn’t.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:29 PM EST
Because he’s spent much of this season questioning his team.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:49 PM EST
When Nashville loses, it loses big.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:16 PM EST
It’s been a long journey for the former No. 6 overall pick.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:14 PM EST
Incident occurred on Sunday, against Boston’s Kevan Miller.
Dec 10, 2013, 12:11 PM EST
No goals in 18 games for the Sabres.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Facing a lengthy suspension.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:42 AM EST
Bad news, especially given his history.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
He spent 16 years with and played over 600 games for the Flames.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:26 AM EST
That’s the stadium in the ‘Peg.
Dec 10, 2013, 9:58 AM EST
If he’s not available, the Bruins will need to call up a defenseman.
Dec 10, 2013, 9:16 AM EST
Playing at least one more season would likely make him Ottawa’s all-time games leader.
Dec 10, 2013, 8:47 AM EST
Both teams have struggled lately.
Dec 10, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Dec 10, 2013, 1:41 AM EST
Vancouver is getting in the thick of things.
- Neal admits kneeing Marchand was ‘not the smartest decision’ 46
- Leafs captain Phaneuf suspended two games for boarding 32
- Rangers confirm Staal suffered concussion 6
- Winnipeg to get outdoor game; Phoenix wants one 32
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head 156
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller 102
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ 132
- Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in back 8
- Islanders players hold closed-door meeting after ninth straight loss 15
- Penguins’ Neal has phone hearing for knee on Bruins’ Marchand 90
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (132)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (111)