WHERE WERE YOU?

Lowetide
August 09 2012 07:27AM

Wayne Gretzky was so good none of the words in the dictionary do him justice. "The Great One" is miles from the truth and yet that moniker is the one that has lasted forever. As good as he was, and as much as we knew about the importance of money (or lack thereof), the trading of Wayne Gretzky was a stunning moment in Edmonton history. For an Oiler fan it was kind of like, and exactly like, falling off a cliff. 

August 9, 1988: Wayne Gretzky is traded to Los Angeles by Edmonton with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, Los Angeles' 1st round choices in 1989 (later traded to New Jersey - New Jersey selected Jason Miller), 1991 (Martin Rucinsky) and 1993 (Nick Stajduhar) Entry Drafts and cash.

Cash. Whenever anyone tries to tell you it was a hockey deal, please remember that last word. Cash.

I never found a way to cheer against 99, even when the Kings were beating my own beloved Oilers. The guy had done so much, was so far beyond anyone who had come before, he had become an icon and other-worldy by the time of the trade. I well remember the stories of Slats saying that Wayne just had to say the word and the deal was dead, and another story that Sather wouldn't approve the "sale" without players coming back to Edmonton.

The press conference remains one of the truly incredible moments in Oilers history. Wayne crying, grim Oiler men and Peter Pocklington looking for all the world like a 10-year old who'd broken his neighbour's window and was about to catch colossal shit.

It was a harsh lesson for Oiler fans. The fans can cheer, yell, scream, drink,  get angry and walk their seaon's tickets, but they are far from the decision making process. Having said that, no one knew better what that trade meant to the Oilers. The club--despite winning a Stanley without him--was never the same.

WHERE WERE YOU?

Paulina Gretzky was a distant bell that day, and for Wayne Gretzky it probably took something like being a parent to surpass the emotion of being sold to Los Angeles. 

I was on holidays the day of the trade, in the USA where hockey coverage in January sucks let alone August. The fame of 99 was so big he made the front page in Seattle, and I honestly didn't believe it even when reading the paper.

Seriously. Reading it in the newspaper and still not really getting it.

Where were you on that fateful day? My guess is many of you weren't even around or were very young at the time. I'd still like to hear what you have been told from family and friends about the day Wayne was sold to the Kings.

 

 

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 Archaeologuy
August 09 2012, 11:16AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Somehow I always thought you were way older than me, but only three years.

I've had the good fortune to do a lot of cool things in a short amount of time, not unlike yourself.

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#52 harp
August 09 2012, 11:59AM
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I was five at the time and my priority was watching Ernie and Bert on Sesame Street. I wasn't old enough to comprehend what happened but I commend any Oiler fan who had to go through that day and still bleed oil today.

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#53 Dutchscooter
August 09 2012, 11:59AM
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I probably have one of the best 'Where were you' stories: I was coming back from vacationing in the States with my parents, 14 years old, and we stopped in Calgary for gas. The gas jockey saw we were from Edmonton and jeered at us ' Hey, they just traded Gretzky!'. Of course we didn't believe him. Couldn't happen, and that's exactly what a Flames fan would say, right? Well,....

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#54 westcanoilfan
August 09 2012, 11:59AM
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I'm certain that if Gretzky stayed in Edmonton, the Oilers would have won 4 more cups. Add that to the 5 we did win and you have the greatest dynasty in NHL history.

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#55 DrPow
August 09 2012, 12:00PM
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This literally may be my first memory. I was 6, and the family was at WEM on our annual back to school shopping trip. We noticed crowds gathering at the shop windows (back when shop windows were littered with tv's). My old man went over to see what the fuss was about and I remember experiencing two firsts. First time I remember my dad swearing, and first time I saw him cry. It was only a tear or two, but I could tell that he was shattered. My mom says i went up and gave him a hug and said, "it will be ok daddy". To which he said something like," eventually it will be son, but it will never be the same". The drive back to Camrose was filled with ranting about he would never watch another Oiler game. That didn't last forever of course, but it lasted a season or two at least. Sad sad day.

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#56 D
August 09 2012, 12:03PM
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LT,

I was living in Edmonton at the time and my brother told me. I wanted to punch him out.

Reflecting back, (and admittedly hindsight is 20/20), Pocklington's error was in not recognizing that by 1988, the Oilers transcended normal business. As a business person, it was probably very difficult for Pocklington to treat the Oilers as anything more than numbers on a balance sheet.

But for certain businesses, and on very rare occasions, the business entity reaches a tipping point, where normally sane business decisions (such as selling Gretzky at his peak value) would backfire horribly. Recognizing this tipping point is very difficult.

George Steinbrenner was one owner who was very good at recognizing when the Yankees transcended normal business. He then would overpay to keep his team together, knowing (or hoping) that he would recoup his investment on the back end by squeezing out one or two more World Series, and selling dynasty and greatness to fans around the country. Pocklington was too short sighted to do that with the Oilers.

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#57 terry
August 09 2012, 12:03PM
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Arch I've had many brawls with you on here regarding Sam Gagner, I thought you were 50+ for some reason but you're a mere six days older then I am!

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#58 Quicksilver ballet
August 09 2012, 12:15PM
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Nothing in life is really owned. Wayne wasn't meant to be ours for ever and ever. I'm thankful to have seen him up play up close for 10 yrs in Oiler silks.

Rather than harbour the distant loss we all witnessed, i'll cherish the memories he provided during that decade. My favorite moment had to be their first Stanley Cup. Watching, taking in every moment that night. There was a special feeling that stood out even before the game. The lighting in the building appeared different/surreal that night for some reason. I knew before the game started, what happens this night, will last a lifetime. As a couple decades passed by, i've often wondered which was more difficult to overcome, the loss of Wayne in Edmonton, or the feeling the Islanders suffered through surrendering what was rightfully theirs 4 years running. Contrary to the feelings of our youth, nothing lasts forever.

thank you Wayne Gretzky.

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#59 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
August 09 2012, 12:26PM
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I was 4 and was probably playing with he-man or ninja turtles.

I'm surprised everyone thought Arch was so old. I personally had him pegged right about where he is. You don't need to be old to be articulate.

Now LT. You can tell he's been around the block cause he uses words like "Lordy" and "Godspeed".

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#60 jerryseinfeld
August 09 2012, 12:30PM
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@Archaeologuy

I was in a car on the highway driving back from Ontario, just reaching the city limits of Edmonton when radio silence broke, and so did my heart!!

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#61 dcsj
August 09 2012, 12:54PM
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I was in real estate in Victoria at the time. There had been rumblings a day or two before and I arrived to pick up a client, they had the news conference on. They bought the house I showed them, but that was one commission I would have been glad to miss out on.

Years before I went to a game in Atlanta against the Flames (cut classes at uni). Going into the third period we were down 4-2. Gretzky seemed to simply step it up a notch, he was amazing in that third period. I don't remember if he scored or assisted but he was everywhere on the ice. I remember him coming in to the Atlanta end 1 on 2, he split the defense and broke in alone. Can't remember the result of that play, just the sublime moves to get around the defenders. They ending up tying the game (remember those?) which was almost as good as a win, given the circumstances. Gretzky was something special to watch.

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#62 Snowdropper
August 09 2012, 12:59PM
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The day of the trade, we were in northern California. We had left for vacation just after Gretzky's wedding when everything was still fairytales here. On the small black and white TV in our motorhome that night, we heard about the trade. Needless to say there was a lot of shock and surprise in that vehicle.

I was only 6 at the time, but I remember the very next day vividly. In desperate need for more information, we crossed into Oregon and found a doughnut shop (Taylor-Made Doughnuts! I still remember the name) where my parents could have a coffee and read the paper, which surprisingly had a lot of news on the transaction, considering, y'know, it's Oregon.

To make a long story short, my parents being all engrossed in the paper and their coffee, they failed to notice that I had gone to the bathroom. When I came out a few minutes later, it was to the scene of our motorhome driving out of the parking lot and getting on the interstate. After bursting into tears, and telling the poor ladies behind the counter that "My parents left me and drove back to Canada", the police were called. However, within half an hour, my family realized what had happened, and had returned to get me.

I got a free cup of 7-up out of the deal (I actually refused a free doughnut - I must have been incredibly distraught!), and some resentment that my parents cared more about Wayne Gretzky than me. Nah, not really. But I do find it fun to phone them every August 10th to remind them of it.

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#63 Mojo
August 09 2012, 01:20PM
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I was 3. I remember being told that my auntie cryed for weeks.

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#64 Charlie Huddy
August 09 2012, 01:27PM
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My parents are from Scotland and we would spend the summers visiting. I was 10 that particular year and we hadn't heard a thing about, what would later be one of my clearest childhood memories. We were flying back to Alberta and when we landed in Toronto the first thing one of the customs guys says to my dad is "Did you hear about Gretzky?". My father, completely oblivious, and not quite realizing the devastating consequences of his response naively requests the answer. with ought thought to preparing himself or his sons innocent world view. But how could he? How could he know what would folliw? I remember it got quiet and the guy, that vile harbinger of bad news, dropped the bomb on my father and defiled my still innocent mind... "They traded Gretzky". I was as though everything in the room disappeared, my mind realed and sought out the rock that wast father, a superman to that 10 yr old boy. What I saw shocked me, true emotion. Shock at first, what I now know to be disgust at Pocklington, at a game foreign to him, that he had adopted only after seeing The Great One play. Then sadness. I remember seeing tears in a mans eyes that I thought too manly to cry, a man I didn't believe could. It changed my life and how I saw my old man.

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#65 Spydyr
August 09 2012, 01:42PM
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It was the day hockey changed for me.From a game to a business.

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#66 misfit
August 09 2012, 01:42PM
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I was getting ready for my upcomming 7th birthday when the trade happened. I don't know if I knew about it right as it happened, but it must not have sunk in because it wasn't until I was talking to the kids on the school bus later that month on the first day of school when I remember thinking "what do you mean Gretzky isn't an Oiler?"

My reaction to the Gretzky trade is a bit of a blur, but I can tell you I was absolutely crushed three years later when it was Messier saying goodby to the Oilers. To me, that was a much bigger deal. Partly because I was older and more aware of things in general, and partly because Messier had been my favorite player ever since hockey had entered my world.

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#67 pelhem grenville
August 09 2012, 01:43PM
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...here we all are half way through our day and all these great stories have surfaced like no ones business and there really aren't any surprises to mention except we've all found out that Arch lies about his age ...~

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#68 CDean
August 09 2012, 02:02PM
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I was 11 or 12 years old when Gretzky was traded and I don't remember where I was or what I was doing but I remember hating the Oilers for doing it. I changed my devotion to the Kings for a year but then became disillusioned with Gretzky and came back to the Oilers for their 5th cup but right after I followed Cam Neely and the Bruins until he retired. I have been an Oiler fan ever since. I think because of Gretzky I grew to understand the other side of hockey and I was not that shocked when Ryan Smyth was traded and I did not feel sorry for him when he was crying. But I have a lot more respect for him when he asked to be traded back. If both Gretzky and Smyth were such great believers of the Oilers then they would have signed for less and would not have been traded away. I know that is not the case because it is a business and not just about playing. People talk about how much of an ambassador Gretzky is for hockey but I do not really care about hockey in the states so I do not really see it.

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#69 Archaeologuy
August 09 2012, 02:03PM
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@pelhem grenville

HA. I need to get my @ss down to one of these Oilersnation sponsored nights at the Pint and show my ID. I swear on Smyth's Mullet I'm not lying about my age.

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#70 Alsker
August 09 2012, 02:06PM
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I was 25 and working downtown, I had never had seen so many people who like me seemed to have lost thier best friend. It truly felt like we were worth a little less as a city almost ashamed of what had happened. Though QSB is right it had been a GREAT time to be an oilers fan. My worst memory of it was listening to John Ferguson proclaiming it was a great day for Winnipeg as the Jets would not have to deal with the Oil again. Well not until 1990. And how did that work out for John??

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#71 OILERSORDEATH
August 09 2012, 02:25PM
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Thanks a lot guys now I'm crying again.

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#72 Petr's Jofa
August 09 2012, 04:23PM
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I was 13 and in a trailor park in Portland, Oregon. We would go down every summer so my father, a teacher, could get a few more courses done on his M.Ed. I'll never forget how the news of the trade rippled through the camp ground. You could tell who the Canadian families were because they kept swinging by our trailor for any information.. Thank god for pay phones and the evening eddition of the newspaper.

My mother's father died in 85, Edmonton flooded in 86, and the tornado was in 87. After the news hit of Gretzky being traded I can distinctly remember my father saying that it was going to be our last summer in Portland because everytime we stayed there a trajedy struck Edmonton. And they kept getting worse and worse.

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#73 Wanyes bastard child
August 09 2012, 04:39PM
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I was celebrating my 8th birthday... needless to say, worst birthday ever!

Probably celebrate tonight like I did back then... get drunk with pops.

And holy... I'm older than both Arch and Willis! Who would have guessed that?

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#74 Jaw17
August 09 2012, 05:26PM
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I was far from being born, but after watching documentaries and reading the book "Gretzky's Tears" I have grown to hate Pocklington and hearing about the glory days of the 80's I have actually grown resentful of Oiler fans that got to see something I can only dream of, an oilers dynasty, lets pray the "fab four" can make it come true.

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#75 The Soup Fascist
August 09 2012, 06:05PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

I was celebrating my 8th birthday... needless to say, worst birthday ever!

Probably celebrate tonight like I did back then... get drunk with pops.

And holy... I'm older than both Arch and Willis! Who would have guessed that?

Certainly not Wanye!

BTW. How does LT not put "The Great One(s)" caption over Paulina's picture? Too Sacrilegious?

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#76 Hammers
August 09 2012, 06:10PM
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I was 42 and had been a season ticket holder before we even got into the NHL . Being older plus having met most of the players at luncheons & dinners including Wayne I was upset but knowing Pocklington not as surprised as many of the fans .PP was an a- hole and I know personally as I worked for one of his companies in a senior position. In fact the real problems started when they wouldn't give #7 what his agent asked for so I have allways told my sons when they let Paul go it was the begining of the end . For me that's when it really started .I don't care what Sather supposedly said because he stuck by Pocklington right up to his arrest in the states .WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN and now WHAT MIGHT BE AGAIN.

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#77 The Real Scuba Steve
August 09 2012, 06:46PM
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Still remember that day they interrupted a rerun of cheers on ITV to bring it live, The dynasty was starting to crumble.

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#78 Dog Train
August 09 2012, 06:56PM
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I wasn't even born yet. My parents are not Oilers' fans either. It was nice to watch the '30 for 30' episode on the trade. I have lived through trading favourites like Doug Weight and Ryan Smyth as well as trading a superstar like Chris Pronger. I can only imagine what it was like seeing your favourite team trade away the best player in the league because of money.

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#79 Bigfan
August 09 2012, 07:39PM
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I was living and working in England at the time. My father telephoned from Edmonton to tell me and my wife that Gretzky had been traded. It was late at night and we were asleep. The ringing phone woke me up. I had that instant panic - you know - that something bad has happened to someone in the family. I was actually relieved when my father first told me the news - relieved it wasn't that bad. But, to be honest, as it sunk in, I did feel some of the sadness of a loss.

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#80 Gretzkin
August 09 2012, 08:54PM
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I was sitting on the shag brown carpet at my Sister's house in Clareview about 2 feet from the TV weeping. Probably 13 years old. Gutted. Still gutted.

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#81 DSF
August 09 2012, 09:03PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...here we all are half way through our day and all these great stories have surfaced like no ones business and there really aren't any surprises to mention except we've all found out that Arch lies about his age ...~

Apparently someone still believes Smyth still has a mullet.

No credibility.

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#82 Lawndemon
August 09 2012, 09:25PM
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I was 13 years old at the cabin. We had one of those giant aluminum satellite dishes up there but it was attached to a tv the size of a dinner plate. We huddled around it in stunned silence, then I got pissed off and cried a bit. I remember yelling about how it wasn't fair and how "they" were all stupid.

Then I went fishing because it was summer and I was at the cabin.

The Oilers were a huge part of my life - still are - but it's still just hockey.

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#83 Walter Sobchak
August 09 2012, 10:12PM
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Great story's everyone!

I was 14 and reveling in yet another championship for the Oilers when someone ran up and kicked me in the gut!

I was at home when the story broke then glued to the TV for the rest of the day, I cried, then got pissed off!

Gretzky to this day is still my favorite hockey player!

I still get angry and will argue till I pass out that he is the best player of all time, I don’t even think its close, my dad often would get me going telling me that Orr was the best.

The trade to this day still pisses me off!

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#84 Joshua Moar
August 09 2012, 10:40PM
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@Tony Montana

Crazy I was just in the Pines this last weekend.

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#85 Lacrosseraider
August 09 2012, 11:11PM
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I was driving on a dusty gravel road on the bend of Corner Lake. The Calgary radio station said something like "Oilers trade Gretzky. Details after the commercial" I felt sick to my stomach. All my visions of a few more Stanley Cups were sent flying. I couldn't possibly imagine how Sather could have been so brain damaged to trade The Great One. I remember thinking unless Bo Jackson has taken up hockey we just get robbed. When I heard the details I turned around and spit gravel most of the way home to tell my wife and phone my Dad. I'm still bitter.

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#86 Reg Dunlop
August 09 2012, 11:24PM
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The Gretzky sale was truly a sad day just like the Gretzky sale a decade earlier. Skalbania made the worst business decision since the sale of Manhattan, at least Pocklington got the best years out of Wayne.

All these stories are wonderful and prove how important Gretz was to the city's psyche. I would contribute but I don't remember anything specific. Maybe the cumulative effect of head injuries. However...

@Soup Fascist...I remember Bill Matheson shopping at Woodwards food floor saturdays and having an entorage of blue-haired ladies following him as he would say stuff like,'If I felt any better I would have to be restrained' and 'My escutcheon remains unsullied'. He was like catnip to those Grandmas.

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#87 Abby Oil
August 10 2012, 12:26AM
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I was 8 years old that summer and truly a die hard Oilers fan. Always a goalie fan first and always the seldom used backups for some reason. Daryl Reaugh and now this new Bill Ranford, but of course Gretzky was the man.

We were living in Prince George BC at the time and my Uncle and Auntie who are season ticket holders were out visiting from Edmonton. My sisters and I had finished swimming lessons for the day and Mom was driving us home. It was around lunch time. The news came over the radio in the car....unreal! I remember not so much my feelings but breaking the news to my Uncle once we arrived home. Shock and disbelief all around! He swore that we were yanking his chain. Will never forget that sunny summers afternoon in PG....

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#88 The Soup Fascist
August 10 2012, 12:44AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

The Gretzky sale was truly a sad day just like the Gretzky sale a decade earlier. Skalbania made the worst business decision since the sale of Manhattan, at least Pocklington got the best years out of Wayne.

All these stories are wonderful and prove how important Gretz was to the city's psyche. I would contribute but I don't remember anything specific. Maybe the cumulative effect of head injuries. However...

@Soup Fascist...I remember Bill Matheson shopping at Woodwards food floor saturdays and having an entorage of blue-haired ladies following him as he would say stuff like,'If I felt any better I would have to be restrained' and 'My escutcheon remains unsullied'. He was like catnip to those Grandmas.

Yikes! Woodwards. There is a blast from the past. The $1.49 Day jingle still resonates. I will remember Bill's famous .. "The Dreaded of all meteorolgical phenomenon - the Siberian High" until the day I am on the wrong side of the sod.

A lot of bad memories about the Gretzky trade. But fun rememdering some of Edmonton's old haunts. Forgot about Molson House, David's Restaurant, Goose Loonies. Lots of changes since the late 80's. BTW did any Fieros survive to the millenium? What pieces of crap.

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#89 Weasel Wellwood
August 10 2012, 12:57AM
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I'm reminded of Don MacLean's 'American Pie.' "The day the music died . . .

There's a special circle in Dante's 'Inferno,' for Peter Pocklington. For money, filthy lucre, he destroyed something wonderful, something fantastically great, a club hockey team that would have gone down in the history books as the best of all time. It started with Coffey, next were Gretzky and Messier, and then the rest were all gone. And he did it for money, money that didn't do him a damn bit of good anyway as things turned out.

Bitter? Always and forever.

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#90 pelhem grenville
August 10 2012, 08:06AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Yikes! Woodwards. There is a blast from the past. The $1.49 Day jingle still resonates. I will remember Bill's famous .. "The Dreaded of all meteorolgical phenomenon - the Siberian High" until the day I am on the wrong side of the sod.

A lot of bad memories about the Gretzky trade. But fun rememdering some of Edmonton's old haunts. Forgot about Molson House, David's Restaurant, Goose Loonies. Lots of changes since the late 80's. BTW did any Fieros survive to the millenium? What pieces of crap.

...Hey Soup...ever see the plaques on the west bar at Barry-Ts? Grant Fuhr, Kevin McClelland and Dave (lap area) Hunter all had them ...little brass ones made up by THE best bartender EVER Barry Countryman to reserve those places at his bar for those regulars...ok maybe Troy was the best but...how 'bout The Grinder on 124th ...I waited til six a.m. for Gretz and VikkiMoss to show up after the first Cup win...and they showed up for owner and super slider owner Ray Goodman...weeeeeeeeeee those were the days!

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#91 The Soup Fascist
August 10 2012, 09:52AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...Hey Soup...ever see the plaques on the west bar at Barry-Ts? Grant Fuhr, Kevin McClelland and Dave (lap area) Hunter all had them ...little brass ones made up by THE best bartender EVER Barry Countryman to reserve those places at his bar for those regulars...ok maybe Troy was the best but...how 'bout The Grinder on 124th ...I waited til six a.m. for Gretz and VikkiMoss to show up after the first Cup win...and they showed up for owner and super slider owner Ray Goodman...weeeeeeeeeee those were the days!

Barry T's was part of the "trapline" Friday and Saturday nights.

The Grinder was a cool little place. A buddy of mine loved it. I was a St. Albert guy, but I missed out when Mess rolled into the Bruin Inn with the Cup, I believe it was just before the Bruin Inn's brief stint as a Strip Bar ... er ... "Gentleman's Club". The local CWL ladies were not big fans! But I digress . .

Anyway not sure how much of the story was an urban myth, but apparently Messier and Sammy just showed up on a Saturday afternoon with the Cup and there are like five people total in the place, playing pool / darts, whatever. Suddenly, these five guys are fighting over the payphone* (cell phones were a rarity) to tell their buddies to come down. The place is packed within an hour. Those were Great times.

*for the youngsters in the crowd a payphone was a device that was found EVERYWHERE; on every corner in every little business where you would "drop a dime" in and make a phone call. This DOES NOT refer in anyway to the band Maroon 5.

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#92 Scott in Grande Prairie
August 10 2012, 10:01AM
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I was 15 years old at the time and I remember the day vividly. Vividly.

It was hot that day - probably in the high-20s, which up here was a scorching summer day back in 1988.

My dad, my younger brother and I were wallpapering my mom's kitchen and it was a miserable job. The bozos who built the house had glued the old wallpaper to the wall, so the first part of our job was peeling and scraping and tearing with scrapers and our fingernails, often in hard-to-reach places, like underneath cupboards and up high near the ceiling. It would have been an awful job on a cool day, but on a hot day it was awful.

And, of course, we all were working with hollow feelings in our stomachs.

What a lot of people might not know is that the news of the trade essentially broke the night before but, as I recall, it broke in the evening. I don’t think it was on the supper-hour newscasts in Edmonton, but I can remember watching a story on the 11:30 p.m. sportscast on either CFRN or CBC (we lived in the country and only had two channels) that there was a HUGE press conference being called for the next morning and it was expected to do with a transaction involving No. 99. I didn’t sleep very well that night.

The next morning, as we toiled away with the wallpaper, a local radio station was on in the kitchen and news of the pending press conference and likely trade dominated the newscasts at the top and bottom of the hours and deejays were taking calls from pissed-off fans between songs.

Grande Prairie had two AM stations at the time and BOTH ran the press conference audio live. By then, of course, we were downstairs in the cool basement, watching the presser on CBC, which had slightly better reception off of our antenna (I recorded the presser on our VCR and I still have the tape somewhere). I sat closest to the TV so my brother and my dad would be able to see the tears in my eyes. But when I turned around to steal a quick look at them, I saw their eyes were glassy, too.

It all sounds so melodramatic now, but like I say, I was 15. At that point in my life, all I ever knew of NHL hockey or the Oilers was Gretzky and Messier and Kurri and all those Cups. When I was a young kid, they came into the NHL. When I was in elementary school, they were an up-and-coming team of cocky young kids. By the time I hit Grade 10, they’d won three Cups. One school year later, they’d won their fourth. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, the Oilers were never anything less than great and Gretzky never anything less than iconic. And the thing is, you never really realized how “special” it was. We had no idea of what the odds were of fate bringing together Gretzky and the amazing supporting cast. We had no idea of how “finite” it was. We assumed it would last, maybe not forever, but a long, long time.

Hockey – sports, really – changed for me big-time that day. I remained a fervent Oilers fan and cheered against No. 99 when the Kings came to town (cheer for LA? As if!). Still liked Gretzky, but I’m proud to say my loyalty to the Oilers never ebbed – and of all the Cups, the post-Gretzky Cup in 1990 is the best one, IMO.

But it’s still not hard to wonder what might have been if he hadn’t been traded.

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#93 Dale
August 10 2012, 02:38PM
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We had moved to Hong Kong the year before. Actually one month before the tornado hit. If you think hockey coverage was bad in the US then, try being a diehard hockey fan (11 years old) in South Asia in the late 80's. I recieved a letter from my Aunt in September or October and it was something like "....so I'm sure you heard what happened with Gretzky and the Oilers. Everyone is still in shock." That was at the end of the letter. No elaborating. Needless to say we spent a small fortune on a long distance call that day to find out the bad news.

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#94 Pajamah
August 10 2012, 02:40PM
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DSF wrote:

No, that came much later.

Starting with the Smyth trade, Horcoff's contract, Khabibulin's signing, the Souray fiasco...and on and on.

A comedy of errors that continues right to this day.

Assuming that you are indeed an Oiler fan then, couldn't you find the same managerial errors with most teams

Sure, there were plenty of bad moves made by Lowe and Tambellini, but other than Ken Holland, who hasn't signed a bad contract or two since the last CBA?

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