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:
Mar 10, 2014, 8:09 PM EDT
Warning: it’s a bloody scene for Ceci.
Mar 10, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
He was last seen at practice in Saginaw, Mich.
Mar 10, 2014, 6:38 PM EDT
Nathan MacKinnon slides into his center spot vs. Winnipeg.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT
Canucks GM pens letter to ticket holders.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT
Click for a video explanation.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
All the latest from the blue paint…
Mar 10, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT
Dallas seems to be a good fit for the 22-year-old former Bruin.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
“We have to keep scoring goals. We have to keep playing this way,” said Adam Henrique.
Mar 10, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT
He meant he doesn’t want to be traded.
Mar 10, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT
Fire up the comments section!
Mar 10, 2014, 2:26 PM EDT
But how does creating a long change in overtime sound?
Mar 10, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
Starting tonight in Anaheim.
Mar 10, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT
A home game vs. Washington, which will also mark Dustin Penner’s return to Anaheim.
Mar 10, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT
“It’s a bad position, I guess.”
Mar 10, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT
Veteran winger won’t play tonight vs. Phoenix.
Mar 10, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT
The 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Mar 10, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT
Tough blow for Montreal.
Mar 10, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT
With Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson.
Mar 10, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT
Deadline deal could end up being a masterstroke.
Mar 10, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT
Columbus is fighting hard for a spot in the postseason.
- Gillis pleads his case: ‘We are enduring a challenging period’ 16
- Nolan gets a game for punching ‘unsuspecting’ Joensuu 24
- It doesn’t sound like 3-on-3 overtime is going to be a thing 34
- Blues finish night on top of NHL standings after shootout win 15
- Kings’ Nolan gets double-minor for punching Oilers’ Joensuu 54
- Extended overtime likely to be on agenda in GMs’ March meeting 42
- Lundqvist shuts out Red Wings to claim 300th victory 11
- NHL on NBCSN: Hawks know they can’t take Sabres lightly 11
- NHL on NBC: Red Wings, Rangers fight to cling onto playoff spots 2
- Video: Flames score center-ice goal against Canucks’ Lack 19
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (68)
- Report: Flyers table ‘substantial offer’ for Kesler, also inquiring about Edler (59)