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25 years later, The Hockey News looks back at the Wayne Gretzky trade

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.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink



It’s one of those events you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. I was on a family trip driving into Montreal. My brother, the only one who knew a little french translated that Gretzky had been traded to the LA Kings. We all laughed hysterically: he must have gotten the translation wrong.

Posted by tbuhg on 07/29/13 at 02:44 PM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

Aaaaannd… if you don’t want to read about it (again), I’m pretty certain the story is being re-run over and over on the NHL network. So, watch it any day.  I’m sure it will be on either initially before or after the Oil can ( or whatever that re-run is called) show.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 07/29/13 at 04:14 PM ET

pensfan29's avatar

We gonna hear about this every 5 years?

Posted by pensfan29 on 07/29/13 at 05:19 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

We gonna hear about this every 5 years?

Posted by pensfan29 on 07/29/13 at 05:19 PM ET

Nah, just every 25 years, chief.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 07/29/13 at 08:29 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

We had 20th anniversary articles five years ago.  Many of them. 

I’m sure there will be dozens of 30th anniversary articles as well.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 07/29/13 at 09:02 PM ET


Nobody’s forcing any of you to read about it.

Posted by Garth on 07/29/13 at 09:40 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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