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:
Sep 2, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
He played a key role in Guelph winning the 2014 OHL championship.
Sep 2, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT
He’ll have a difficult time winning the backup job over Martin Jones.
Sep 2, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT
He was selected with the ninth overall pick in 2014.
Sep 2, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
He still has a season left on his existing contract.
Sep 2, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
He’s not the only Russian star linked to the KHL recently.
Sep 2, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
Which unsigned vets will look to win jobs at camp?
Sep 2, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
All at 75/1, respectively.
Sep 2, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
Johansen, Krug, DeKeyser and more…
Sep 2, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT
The trio missed all of last year’s playoff run.
Sep 2, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT
Veteran AHLer had previously spent time with the Canucks, Avalanche and Islanders organizations.
Sep 2, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
“I think it’s a great time for the Detroit Red Wings.”
Sep 2, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Sep 1, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Easy to see why.
Sep 1, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
Edmonton wants to assess Leon Draisaitl, it seems.
Sep 1, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT
Sixteen of their first 21 games are on the road.
Sep 1, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
Part two of today’s Labor Day posts.
Sep 1, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
Part one of two Labor Day “theme” posts.
Sep 1, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT
The new Penguins bench boss previously coached the young defenseman.
Sep 1, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
The 25-year-old has been fighting for playing time since he broke into the NHL.
Sep 1, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT
He might pick an opening game starter after that, but the battle for the top spot is likely to extend into the season.
- With training camps looming, a look at some key unsigned RFAs 8
- Workhorse goalies, forwards from last season 15
- Five interesting players still on UFA market 40
- Trotz will still cheer for Preds ‘like crazy’ 4
- Hextall: Advanced statistics small, but meaningful part of Kings’ success 7
- Hayes sees opportunity with Rangers 28
- Fanspeak: Martin Brodeur named greatest Devil in franchise history 15
- Devils’ Gomez considered retirement 7
- It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT 22
- Fanspeak: Bobby Orr named best Bruin in franchise history 31