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 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They’ll be dancing close to the upper limit all year.
Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
That and the rest of the links to start your day.
Jul 27, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
He last played in 2001 with the Edmonton Oilers.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
He’s played four full seasons there already.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
He has a few guys that can help make it happen there.
Jul 27, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
He was their final restricted free agent.
Jul 27, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
He emerged as the team’s No. 2 center last season.
Jul 27, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
That adds another layer to the Flames’ goaltending competition.
Jul 27, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
He has played in 132 NHL games.
Jul 27, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
It led to him having a minor procedure.
Jul 27, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
He’ll enter training camp with a shot of making the team.
Jul 27, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT
“I can be a lot better.”
Jul 27, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
He’s the last RFA left for them to re-sign.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
We’ve hit that part of free agency.
Jul 26, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT
They’re both eligible to become free agents next summer.
Jul 26, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT
They had the league’s third-worst unit last season.
Jul 26, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
He’s scheduled for arbitration on Friday.
Jul 26, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT
It’ll be his third team in the past year.
Jul 26, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
He was injured during World Championships in May.
Jul 26, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Reggie vs. Gustl: who you got?
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- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal 42
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- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain (45)