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 1, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT
Reunited and it feels pretty good.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
The contract pays the 25-year-old $600,000.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:36 PM EDT
Had 22 goals for the Ducks in 2014-15.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:34 PM EDT
It’s reportedly two-years, $3 million.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
Don Sweeney keeps making moves.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT
The Rangers were a banged-up group in the playoffs.
Jul 1, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT
Was the first netminder taken at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Jul 1, 2015, 5:34 PM EDT
Fresh off winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago.
Jul 1, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT
“We are here to build a team that is capable of winning a Stanley Cup. There are no shortcuts to go around doing that.”
Jul 1, 2015, 4:06 PM EDT
23-year-old had 18 points in 29 games last year.
Jul 1, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT
Moves on from Washington, the team that drafted him in 2004.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT
Penguins GM considers his new winger in the same class as Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:28 PM EDT
So long, Boston University.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
29-year-old forward will look to get his career back on track.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT
Some smaller signings to pass your way…
Jul 1, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT
Still needs to sign a new deal, but Columbus will match any offer sheet.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
All the signings from what promises to be a busy day.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:28 PM EDT
The torch has been passed.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Bit of an odd twist.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT
Both spent the last few seasons playing in Russia.
- Bruins sign Beleskey for five years, despite some warning signs 13
- Kessel trade shows Leafs are trying to ‘build this thing the right way’ 13
- Green signs with Red Wings — 3 years, $18 million 22
- ‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’ 32
- PHT’s 2015 free agent frenzy tracker 36
- Kassian traded to Habs for Prust; Hodgson signs with Preds 14
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins 126
- Oilers get Sekera for six years, closing in on Letestu 7
- Avalanche sign veteran d-man Beauchemin for three years 6
- Neely was ‘surprised’ that Hamilton didn’t want to sign with Bruins 15
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins (126)
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (105)
- Trade: Jackets land Saad, Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago (93)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (90)
- Trade: Flames land Dougie Hamilton for package of picks (75)