Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 07/29/13 at 12:10 PM ET
According to the Hockey News's Adam Proteau, August 9th will mark the 25th anniversary of the trade that sent Wayne Gretzky from Edmonton to Los Angeles, and as such, Proteau's compiled an "oral history" of the days leading up to the trade, the day of the trade itself and its aftermath, speaking with former Kings owner Bruce McNall, Gretzky himself, Jimmy Carson, Craig Simpson, Luc Robitaille, Mike Krushelnyski, Craig MacTavish and even actor Alan Thicke about the "most shocking trade's" form, content and magnitude:
When McNall spoke to Gretzky regarding the possibility of coming to Los Angeles, he did not sense any enthusiasm for a deal.
McNall: Wayne was the greatest player in the world and they’d just come off their fourth Cup, so it wasn’t anything that was in the realm of my thinking this was possible. My biggest concern was when it happened and we really got serious about it was Wayne himself: Did he really want to come? I didn’t want to trade for the greatest player in the world and have him not happy about coming to L.A.
And in fact, he wasn’t. He wasn’t anxious to go to L.A. Wayne was basically saying, ‘I love Edmonton, I love everything there, I don’t want to move.’ Then he started hearing rumors from his dad that he was on the block. From that point, the whole process of the trade was something Wayne basically helped me with. They wanted Luc in the worst way and I wouldn’t give them Luc and Wayne agreed, no, don’t give them Luc. Jimmy Carson finally became the guy because he was a first-line center and wouldn’t be a first-line center with Wayne here. They wanted three first-round draft picks and Wayne said, ‘No, you’re going to have to split the picks up over the years.’ Wayne was part of the process.
Gretzky: It was an extremely difficult six weeks leading up to the actual trade. When it got to a point I thought it could happen, I became sort of quiet about it. I really didn’t talk to a lot of people about it. I didn’t want it to become a big circus outside of what I knew was going to transpire. The only guy that knew was (Oilers teammate) Craig Simpson and the reason he knew was I was spending time in California at (actor) Alan Thicke’s house and Craig was coming down to hang out and play some golf. Unfortunately for him, he got there two days before the trade. I remember picking him up at the airport August 7, and he was really the first guy that unofficially knew something was going to transpire.
Proteau continues at length, and his article's certainly an intriguing read.
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