blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Today in NHL History - Gretzky Trade (EDM-LA)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Today in NHL History - Gretzky Trade (EDM-LA)

On August 9th in 1988, Oilers owner Peter Pocklington sold the greatest player in the history of the game to the Kings for two players, three picks, and millions in cash.

Considered the most storied transaction in NHL history, the move sent Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley, and Mike Krushelnyski south for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first round draft picks (1989, 1991, 1993), and $15 million. The Oilers traded the 1989 pick (Jason Miller) to New Jersey for Corey Foster and used their remaining selections to take Martin Rucinsky (1991) and Nick Stajduhar (1993).

Backlash in Canada to the barter was swift and fierce as fans showered Pocklington with death threats, labeling Gretzky a traitor and his wife Janet Jones a witch. NDP House Leader Nelson Riis went so far as to demand that the Canadian government block the trade.

Days later Jones broke Gretzky's silence clearing the record as to how the trade transpired, laying blame squarely on Pocklington's frame.

Both teams survived and even thrived with the Oilers winning without Wayne in 1990 and The Great One leading his Kings to the Finals in 1993.

The main beneficiary of the move, however, was the league. When Gretzky relocated to Los Angeles the NHL had 15 U.S. franchises, none south of Washington D.C. and only one west of St. Louis. Today that number sits at 23 with several franchises situated in the ice-melting heat of the Sun Belt. Absent Wayne's eight season stay in the Golden State it's hard to imagine such growth would have occurred. That's today in NHL history.

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