THE TRADE: AN OUTSIDER'S LOOK

Robin Brownlee
August 08 2013 07:51PM

Twenty-five years after the sale of Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in a deal orchestrated by Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington, there are still plenty of hockey fans in this town who speak with a great deal of passion about Aug. 9, 1988. Is it any wonder?

I, however, am not one of them. By the time I arrived in Edmonton in December 1989, Gretzky, the best player ever to take a twirl in the NHL, was long gone. The Oilers were Mark Messier's team. There was a fifth Stanley Cup to come for Pocklington's Gretzky-less Oilers. I missed all the fuss.

When I did get here, it was as a relatively young sportswriter. I was sent to follow future HHOF writer and long-time Oiler beat man Jim Matheson around what was then Northlands Coliseum as his back-up on the hockey beat. I had no history with the Oilers, no road stories to tell about the Boys on the Bus. I was an objective observer, writing sidebars all the way through that fifth Cup, learning as I went under Matheson, who knew everything and had history with absolutely everybody on that team.

My memories of the Oilers as a fan, in the days before I stopped cheering for anybody -- around 1982 when I entered journalism school -- was of Gretzky and his pals beating my hometown Vancouver Canucks for fun. Not long after getting into the NHL, they were way too good for the Canucks.

The Oilers were way too good for a lot of teams, except save the New York Islanders, for a few years at least. And that Gretzky kid, the one Nelson Skalbania handed over to Edmonton, well, it was obvious he was something special, that he'd live up to the hype, even as a rookie. Oilers fans saw that up-close-and personal. I saw it, and the talents of No. 99's supporting cast, only when Edmonton came to wax the Canucks or, once in a while, on TV.

GREATNESS FROM AFAR

While the sale of Gretzky sent shock waves through the entire sports world, including the newsroom at the Kamloops Daily News, Gretzky's teary farewell at Molson House alongside a stone-faced Pocklington didn’t move me even a bit. While outraged fans in Edmonton burned Peter Puck in effigy, The Trade was nothing more than a news event, albeit a big one, to me.

I only got to know the Great One after he was gone – as a reporter interviewing him with Bruce McNall's Kings, during his cup of coffee with the St. Louis Blues and with the New York Rangers, who won a Stanley Cup with a bunch of old Oilers before Gretzky arrived for his swan song in Manhattan. I knew Gretzky as a coach in a forgettable stint with the Phoenix Coyotes. Through all that, Matheson, who was waiting when Gretzky arrived in Edmonton as a pimply-faced teenager, filled in the blanks.

I'd chat with Gretzky at morning skates or we'd have a coffee here or there, like when we bumped into No. 99 at our hotel in Phoenix during a road trip or when he came through Edmonton for his jersey retirement or for the Heritage Classic. By then, all the magic fans here witnessed on the way to those first four Cups was a warm and fuzzy memory in the rear-view mirror for the Great One. My recollections of Gretzky and most of the stories about him come after the fact. I missed all the fun.

It's for all the above reasons that, as fans mark the 25th anniversary of The Trade, your perspective is far more pointed and passionate than mine. I've never tortured myself with what could have been. You have. How many Cups would the Oilers have won had Pocklington not sold Gretzky? I'd like to hear your stories, your angle, your perspective on what unfolded Aug. 9, 1988 and what it's meant to be an Oilers fan since then.

From Gretzky's point of view, there's a quote in a recent piece in The Hockey News by Adam Proteau from No. 99 that sums up pretty well his feelings about being the centerpiece of the Glory Days in Edmonton as an Oiler.

"Listen, Edmonton became a home for me," Gretzky told THN. "Mark Messier is an Edmonton boy. He was their son, and I’d say I was their adopted son. Really at no time over my career there did I consider people to be fans; I know they’re fans, but I became more friends with the people. They were always good to me.

"In the whole unfolding of this thing, as is the case in a lot of these instances, the people who got hurt the most are the people who were the most innocent – and that’s the third party, the fans. So from that point of view, it was difficult for me. I love everything about hockey, but the one thing I hated in my career was playing as an opponent in Edmonton. It was always very difficult for me."

READ ALL ABOUT IT . . .

The Edmonton Journal, as you'd expect, is doing a take-out on the Gretzky trade and a lot of what you'll read comes from Matheson, who knows No. 99 better than any scribe still toting a notepad. If you want to access the electronic version of the section, you can link to it AFTER 12:01 a.m. tonight here. The link won't be live until then.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 toprightcorner
August 08 2013, 08:54PM
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DSF wrote:

My Story:

Just want to set the record straight.

Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun was the first to learn that Gretzky had been traded.

However, since he couldn't publish until the next morning, (and no Twitter at the time) his info was leaked to CFRN Radio, now the Team 1260.

We went with the story in the evening before the morning papers were published although the station's sports staff, who shall remain nameless, had to be threatened with their jobs to follow up on the story since they couldn't believe this was actually happening.

More than a few "journalists" have claimed they "broke" the Gretzky trade story but Jones had the info first and CFRN made it public first.

your a moron! Again trying to make yourself look smart when the purpose of the article is to remember the most significant professional sports trade in history.

I don't understand how someone can continuously try to put the spotlight on himself and only successfully making himself look like a fool. Congratulations, that is apparently your gift.

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#2 OilFan
August 08 2013, 09:01PM
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DSF wrote:

He got the news.

Just a heads-up that, in the book he wrote in 1999 commemorating the Oilers 20th anniversary, he said he didn't get the news. FYI.

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#3 toprightcorner
August 08 2013, 09:34PM
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DSF wrote:

Were you there?

I was.

Again, trying to put the spotlight on yourself!!

I never said you were right or wrong, just how annoying your posts are and your love of yourself and self indulgence and surprise surprise, you again your fluffing your own feathers like a peacock. For you, just remove the pea.

I don't care if you were there, you could be Gretzky's best friend and he told you first, that doesn't make me stop from wanting to vomit at everyone of your comments!

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#4 Spydyr
August 08 2013, 09:22PM
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It is the day for me hockey stop being a game and become a business.

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#5 D
August 08 2013, 08:01PM
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One of the worst days in my life.

How many cups? I think an argument could be made that they would have won in 89, 91 (when they made it to the semifinals without half the dynasty team), 92 (semifinals again), 93 when the Oilers West (Kings) made it to the finals, and 94 when the Oilers East (Rangers) won it all.

To be an Oilers fan since then, for me is to live pretty much the rest of my life wondering "what if?"

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#6 @NateInVegas
August 08 2013, 08:53PM
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I cried like a bitch.

Watching the Oilers warm-up in the 80's was the most amazing show on ice. You'd regularly catch visiting players gawking across center in awe just like the fans.

He was/is the greatest professional athlete ever.

And I absolutely believe 3 more Stanley Cups with the Oilers was realistic.

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#7 OilFan
August 08 2013, 08:56PM
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DSF wrote:

My Story:

Just want to set the record straight.

Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun was the first to learn that Gretzky had been traded.

However, since he couldn't publish until the next morning, (and no Twitter at the time) his info was leaked to CFRN Radio, now the Team 1260.

We went with the story in the evening before the morning papers were published although the station's sports staff, who shall remain nameless, had to be threatened with their jobs to follow up on the story since they couldn't believe this was actually happening.

More than a few "journalists" have claimed they "broke" the Gretzky trade story but Jones had the info first and CFRN made it public first.

Are you sure about this?

In Jonesy's booked 79-99, he talks of breaking the story of Wayne's 'engagement' on CFRN and not the Sun but I thought he said he'd taken Sather's word that nothing was happening and took his son south for a ball game and happened to call the station from a gas station to find out the news?

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#8 DSF
August 08 2013, 08:17PM
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My Story:

Just want to set the record straight.

Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun was the first to learn that Gretzky had been traded.

However, since he couldn't publish until the next morning, (and no Twitter at the time) his info was leaked to CFRN Radio, now the Team 1260.

We went with the story in the evening before the morning papers were published although the station's sports staff, who shall remain nameless, had to be threatened with their jobs to follow up on the story since they couldn't believe this was actually happening.

More than a few "journalists" have claimed they "broke" the Gretzky trade story but Jones had the info first and CFRN made it public first.

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#9 Freewheeling Freddy
August 08 2013, 08:33PM
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The saddest day of an Oiler fans hockey life. However Wayne gave us ten years of great memories and 4 Stanley cups. But to be completely honest the Oilers have never truly recovered from August 9 1988.

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#10 Big Cap
August 09 2013, 12:57AM
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RE: Post #20

@Toprightcorner - If you have a problem with any of DSF's comments, then just skip them and don't read them!

No one wants to hear you cry, whine and moan about a fellow Oilers fan who is just sharing his memories of what he remembers from that crappy day weather its accurate or not.

Your a typical "Internet Tough Guy" and we are all extremely grateful and appreciative you've taken on the role to help keep the site safe! Nice work, pal.

But next time keep your comments to yourself if you are gonna make personal attacks on a fellow poster.

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toprightcorner wrote:

your a moron! Again trying to make yourself look smart when the purpose of the article is to remember the most significant professional sports trade in history.

I don't understand how someone can continuously try to put the spotlight on himself and only successfully making himself look like a fool. Congratulations, that is apparently your gift.

Ok, I get that with DSF's reputation, anyone who disagrees with him or calls him a name is going to get some props. But c'mon, this poster's intelligence is completely revealed by his first sentence (if you can call it that).

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#12 dougtheslug
August 08 2013, 09:40PM
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I remember when the rumours started to swirl days before the announcement and I tried to avoid them, not think about them, tell myself they couldn't possibly be true. I was driving to work in the northeast end of town that fateful afternoon listening to the radio reports with mounting horror and disbelief, culminating in the live announcement. I had to pull over to the side of the road, hyperventilating and choking back tears of sorrow, anger, frustration, outrage. I remember I was on the Old Fort Road, appropriately right near Alberta Hospital, and I remember telling myself to "get a grip" or I was going to end up checking myself in.

I also remember being on a diet at the time, and driving back into town, I pulled into an A&W and completely blew my diet with a triple Papa cheeseburger. Small consolation indeed.

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#13 Oilcruzer
August 08 2013, 11:14PM
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Saw many key moments live, his first goal, his 50th in 39, the contract he signed with the Oilers til 1999 that he didn't want to sign (funny he retired in 1999)... I'll never forget the OT shorty against Calgary in game 2 and the roar of SWEEP SWEEP in game 4...

It hurt. A lot.

Let it be known. This was not a trade. It was a sale.

Peter Puck was nothing more than a pyramid scheme businessman. Buying a company, using the equity to leverage another purchase and so on and so on.

I have nothing good to say about that day. May have been the best thing ever for players as the market grew, and demand outgrew supply.

Salaries went up and now Joe Fan can't afford to take his family to see what I grew up with.

Thanks Peter.

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#14 Peter Pocklington Himself
August 08 2013, 08:06PM
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I am Peter Puck. I am ready to be the most trashed comment in the history of Oilers Nation. I sold Wayne.

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#15 OilFan
August 08 2013, 09:06PM
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DSF wrote:

His headline writer did.

Alright then.

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#16 djc
August 09 2013, 07:50AM
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DSF wrote:

His headline writer did.

Usually you embarrass yourself writing about what will happen (Canucks, Wild, Panthers, Granlund, Kreider, Gagner, anything draft related, etc).

Now you are embarrassing yourself writing about what DID happen.

Just stop.

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#17 6 ring circus
August 08 2013, 08:54PM
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One of the greatest athletes,and hockey player's of all time.It was awesome to see Gretzky playing for the Oiler's. I wish he could've played his whole career in Edmonton because I am a Oiler's fan,but the move to LA made the NHL the league it is today.The NHL and hockey owes the Great one a lot,they should make him a ambassador for the league.

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#18 The Soup Fascist
August 09 2013, 10:59AM
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@ D

Thanks for the video. Pretty shocking the guy was convicted of perjury after reporting less than $3000 in assets and almost $20 million in debt.

Had to be a bunch of Columbo's working at Ye Olde Bankruptcy office to solve that one.

This guy blamed EVERYBODY but himself for everything that went south in his life:

- Gretzky wanted the trade.

- His lawyer screwed up the bankruptcy papers that he signed.

- The engraver messed up and put Puck's Dad's name on the Cup.

- His campaign manager was responsible for his collapse during the ill-fated run for the Prime Minister's office

- HHOF writer Jim Matheson "made up" the crocodile tears and ego as big as Manhattan quotes about Gretzky.

The list goes on and on ....

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but the guy is a serial liar who would sell his grandmother if it meant a buck for himself. My contempt for Petey boy goes way beyond the Gretzky trade.

Serenity now ... serenity now.

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#19 Jay Gray
August 08 2013, 10:35PM
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I grew up idolizing Gretzky, watching games with my parents on one of those old tv's incased in wood. We'd lay out all the couch cushions on the floor to get a closer look. I would keep on asking my Dad 'which one is Gretzky, which one is Gretzky.' He'd tell me the one with two 9's on his back, now shut up and let me watch the game.

I was 8 years old at the time of the trade. How could they sell my idol? What did we do to deserve this? I'm still angry about this trade as a 33 year old man. I think of cups we missed out on. I'm still angry about this trade. But I shouldn't be. The game grew because of this trade. As a child I was a Gretzky fan, but as an adult…I'm a lifelong Oiler fan…all because of the guy with two 9's on his back.

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#20 andrewmk20
August 09 2013, 01:58AM
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@toprightcorner

I understand you are trying to get your point across and that internet blogs don't really use proper sentence structure and punctuation but please stop destroying the English language.

Although I agree that a continuing theme for DSF is that he continually alludes that he was an insider when it comes to anything Oilers. Brag to friends and family about being all knowing when it comes to the Oilers. Otherwise stick to the subject matter that is being discussed on the blog.

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#21 JeffG
August 09 2013, 12:51PM
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DSF wrote:

Were you there?

I was.

Janitor?

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#22 Reagan
August 08 2013, 08:19PM
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I remember balling my eyes out and asking my dad why they sold Wayne Gretzky?, as I watched the press conference live. Ironically the only two love TV moments I remember from my childhood was the loss of Gretzky and the Oilers beating the Bruins for the Stanley Cup. Of yeah and Steve Smiths bank shot off of Fuhr. I do recall certain plays and goals scored by Gretzky through the years, all positive stuff. That team was sure awesome to watch! I still have all the cup finals on Betamax! I also bought Boys on the bus on Betamax as well... Just need a machine! Lol

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#23 Citizen David
August 09 2013, 06:23AM
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I know you'll deny it Brownlee, but I have never bought it for a second that the media personnel don't cheer for teams. You may have to bury it when you write or talk so that your work is objective but no way would you not care if Edmonton stank, as they have, or not be pleased with them winning another Stanley cup. If I was a writer and had to move to Buffalo to cover the Sabres, it would turn me into a Sabres fan. If I had to cover the Stars, it would turn me into a Stars fan.

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#24 OilClog
August 09 2013, 01:03PM
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JeffG wrote:

Janitor?

incorrect, he was the towel boy.. for the reporters.

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On an article related post.... I moved to Canada in 1986 and have never seen or heard of hockey before that. My very first introduction to hockey was watching Gretzky on TV. I was hooked from that moment on. From the day I first saw him in 86 to the day he got traded in 88, my knowledge of hockey went from zero to being able to name every player on every team. I always wonder if I would be as big a hockey fan today if Wayne didn't play for the Oilers.

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#26 DSF
August 08 2013, 08:58PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

your a moron! Again trying to make yourself look smart when the purpose of the article is to remember the most significant professional sports trade in history.

I don't understand how someone can continuously try to put the spotlight on himself and only successfully making himself look like a fool. Congratulations, that is apparently your gift.

Were you there?

I was.

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#27 Gord Tulk
August 08 2013, 09:19PM
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The thing that I think a lot of oil fans fail to consider is that if WG was not traded the end result could have been that the team would have moved to another city either by pocklington or sold and then moved to a bigger media market. Realistically the team with WG could have been sold by PP to someone for maybe 25 mill.

IOW trading Gretz saved the oilers.

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#30 The Soup Fascist
August 09 2013, 12:26PM
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SrCain wrote:

Blah blah blah, a hockey player got traded, blah blah 25 yrs ago boo hoo. 24/7 it's on talk radio with countless newspaper articles. Time to move on folks.

You are right. Let's talk more current and relevant hockey news going on in early August.

Hmmm ....

Let's see ..... Wasn't it Sid's birthday or something ???? ....

Err ...... Um ......

How about you start us off?

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#31 madjam
August 08 2013, 09:45PM
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SURPRISED AND FLABBERGASTED BY THE GRETZKY TRADE : Thanks to Peter (wheeling and dealing) , however , we got the best player ever , playing for us during his prime years . For that we should always be thankful for . Thanks , I'm happy/ content for what we got during those years .

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#32 Archaeologuy
August 08 2013, 11:11PM
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I was 5 when Gretzky was traded. I have a bit of a different take on The Trade

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#33 The Soup Fascist
August 09 2013, 07:32AM
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D wrote:

One of the worst days in my life.

How many cups? I think an argument could be made that they would have won in 89, 91 (when they made it to the semifinals without half the dynasty team), 92 (semifinals again), 93 when the Oilers West (Kings) made it to the finals, and 94 when the Oilers East (Rangers) won it all.

To be an Oilers fan since then, for me is to live pretty much the rest of my life wondering "what if?"

In the 30 for 30 episode "A King' s Ransom" - which is excellent by the way - when director Peter Berg asked him how many more cups they would have won had the Oilers stayed intact, I believe Gretszky said "at least four more". So you are pretty much bang on.

One interesting part was how good a deal "monetarily" it was for McNall. Twenty five years ago $15 million seemed like a ton of money. But the first year alone the Kings went up in attendance by like 10,000 per game. I am guessing on numbers a bit, but if tickets averaged $25 a game for 40 home games, McNall added $ 10 million to the King's coffers (or his own pocket) each year. And that is not counting a single beer, popcorn or jersey sold.

On a side note, with McNall and Pocklington both being convicted felons, a doff of the chapeau to everyone one schlepping off to work this morning. We may not be "wealthy savvy entrepreneurs", but the bulk of us have never had bracelets around our ankles while serving house arrest or on parole either.

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#34 The Soup Fascist
August 09 2013, 05:26PM
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SrCain wrote:

Well lets see, there's NFL training camps going on, world junior exhibition games, steroids in baseball, but no, lets instead keep talking about a supposedly painful memory from 25 years ago instead, cause that's fun. I wonder if the Cavs will rehash LJ decision to sign with Miami in 25yrs, or maybe the Colts will have a cry session about Manning leaving. It is a slow news season in sports, but it would be nice if the msm could show a little creativity and find something else interesting to write or talk about between dozens of sports and decades of history.

All wonderful and interesting stories to discuss.

You do know this is O-I-L-E-R-S Nation right?

The name kind of implies that topics will be ..... you know ...... related to the OILERS.

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#36 Crackenbury
August 09 2013, 06:05AM
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Anyone posting on a blog, especially when it comes to sharing their own personal experiences, opens themselves up to bring criticized. When you continuously imply how much smarter you are than everyone else you should expect the replies to your posts to be mainly negative. The constant crap that comes from a certain blogger on this site seems like a desperate case of begging for attention. It's either that or he's on the payroll to generate comments. If that's the case, its a highly effective strategy.

As for my own experience on the Gretzky trade, I was on holidays just coming off the golf course when I heard the news on the radio. I just sat in my car unable to drive. There will never be another Gretzky. The game has grown too much for that to happen. He has been nothing but class for 30 years.

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#37 Pucker - B class
August 08 2013, 10:42PM
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I've watched the Oiler's since the WHA/Edmonton Gardens days. Total joy when the NHL came.

Utter elation when they won their first Cup.

Utter elation when Gretz got 39 in 50.

It was great they won they Cup without 99 but what would have happened if they managed to hold on to him for another 2 or 3 years ??

The trade really peed me off but in the back of my mind I always thought - he may have been on the way out anyway. There is no way Puck would have paid him what he could have gotten elsewhere. I wouldn't put it past him but Gretz would have been a very exceptional individual to have picked Edmonton over millions.

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#38 Greg Steinke
August 09 2013, 12:42PM
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@Gord Tulk

I don't understand how a team that good with a packed house every night could be in a place where they were a financial risk for Pocklington. Pocklington owned several businesses. He didn't have to sell Gretzky to improve his financial situation. He could have probably improved his financial situation through a number of options. The problem was he decided that Oilers hockey was nothing more than a business for him and a player nothing more than a commodity. The player was in his prime and he could get a boat load for him. That is the fault I find in the trade. The motives were not what was best for the team or the city but what was best for Pocklington's pocket. Sometimes you do things based on certain principles you believe in even when less money can be made. I wish he had believed in those principles.

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#39 DSF
August 08 2013, 08:59PM
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OilFan wrote:

Are you sure about this?

In Jonesy's booked 79-99, he talks of breaking the story of Wayne's 'engagement' on CFRN and not the Sun but I thought he said he'd taken Sather's word that nothing was happening and took his son south for a ball game and happened to call the station from a gas station to find out the news?

He got the news.

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#40 Morgie99
August 08 2013, 11:26PM
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D wrote:

One of the worst days in my life.

How many cups? I think an argument could be made that they would have won in 89, 91 (when they made it to the semifinals without half the dynasty team), 92 (semifinals again), 93 when the Oilers West (Kings) made it to the finals, and 94 when the Oilers East (Rangers) won it all.

To be an Oilers fan since then, for me is to live pretty much the rest of my life wondering "what if?"

One of the worst days indeed, shocking , hard to believe

He was my Idol, growing up in the glory days i was a teen, seeing the greatest player, and greatest team grow and dominate

Was at the 50 in 39 as a gift for Christmas from a customer, delivering the Journal, wow, what a game

the trade was great for the league but a shame as an oiler fan he, how many cups minimum 2 -3 more at least

I bet the money pocklington got in the trade he lost over time, from the trade, loss of fans, inflated salaries with raise by Mcnall etc

worst deal in history

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#41 pelhem grenville
August 09 2013, 03:42AM
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toprightcorner...way too harsh...it's anecdotal information...why so critical...you might wanna just read instead of bringing so much attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons...

'gawd i'm glad I didn't say where I was that day ...you'd about shit all over me...happy 25th anni Gretz...love wodey

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#42 Quicksilver ballet
August 09 2013, 06:19AM
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toprightcorner wrote:

your a moron! Again trying to make yourself look smart when the purpose of the article is to remember the most significant professional sports trade in history.

I don't understand how someone can continuously try to put the spotlight on himself and only successfully making himself look like a fool. Congratulations, that is apparently your gift.

That crown of thorns, must be getting itchy by now.

Stay in school kids. One TRC, is still too many.

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#43 michael
August 09 2013, 07:59AM
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At 23 years old I was a hard core Oilers fan by the time Wayne was sold to the L.A> Kings. It was a shock. Made me sick. Peter Pocklington will always remain a pariah. His sale of WG was a business deal plain and simple. He cashed out his biggest asset at its peak. It was a smart business move. It was and still is the biggest trade in hockey ever.

Looking back 25 years the distaste still lingers. The feelings of something remaining incomplete still remains. The What If's will remain with me and many other Oiler fans for as long as we live. What could have been.

The questions that for me that linger are those that only one person can answer. That is Wayne himself. We have seen and heard from all the key players in the trade yet WG remains silent.

Gretzky's career as we all know never again attained the heights that he reached here in Edmonton. His cast of teammates over the years never equaled that which he had in Edmonton. The sense of family and friends he had here not only with the players, coach's and staff. But also the connection with the City and its fans. To this day Gretzky is the guy. When Wayne comes to this City its still an event. He is so iconic that even 25 years later people still have very intense feeling. Its amazing.

When players like Hall,Ebs Yak and Nuge and Gagner look up at the banners in Rexall what they see is 5 banners marking 5 different times that the Oilers achieved Stanley Cup victory. What they don't see is the blood sweat and tears that went into those victory's. They don't see the tears that stained WG eyes on August 9th 1988. They don't see the end of an era in Edmonton.

I hope that when they read the stories about WG today that they realize and understand that what it takes to win is not only done on the ice but off the ice too. Its through the friendships they build with one another and through commitment to one another will they find the ability to become champions.

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#45 Leef O'Golin
August 09 2013, 11:56AM
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I definitely was pretty bitter at the time. Not necessarily "effigy-burning" bitter, but I was never much of an arson enthusiast. Looking back now, I can say that we were pretty lucky to have him for the time we did. I mean, I still remember hearing that the Oilers were accepted into the NHL. I had grown up thinking our little city was on the edge of the cultural frontier (pause for shouted rebuttals), but now we'd be sharing the same ice with Guy Lafleur, Bobby Clarke, and (*gasp*) Terry O'Reilly! The big time, baby. Yeah, we probably could have won more cups, but we did alright, didn't we? We got more than we probably deserved and I'm pretty thankful for that...especially the last six years or so.

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#46 WhattaMike
August 09 2013, 12:27PM
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I remember that Aug 9th day alright...being at my place when the news came o TV there was a big press conference shortly..."Wayne Gretzky was just traded to the Los Angeles Kings"!!!!

Being a complete type Oiler fan from since 1979-80 onward, I then swore, screamed and shouted....and without thinking...I threw a cup of coffee I was holding... against the wall.

Then in stunned silence I sat down to watch an agonizing press conference. Man o Man I was pissed at that smug face of pocklngton's on the TV and I pretty much called him every damnation type thing that my mind could think of.

I know that many, many people did the same...and then some...on that dark sports day in history. Oh yeah, I did have a few beers later on that night...and my friends and I cursed Pocklington and even Sather (to a point for not fighting this deal hard enough).

But,...instead of changing teams to cheer for, I kept my allegiance to the Oilers. I still followed Wayne's individual accomplishments while always wondering what could have been had he stayed...but I was then extremely happy to watch another Cup come home in 1990 with Mess leading the team.

Now...after all these years, I just cherish all that I saw those early years back then with Gretzky and Oilers...like the Cups, his many Oilers earned league records and the true sports legend and the gentleman he became.

As a hockey fan, I still fully bleed Oiler Blue and Orange, (plus copper) and I wish to see more Cups come home...the sooner the better.

In the end, though, I do have to say that while Gretzky being traded to L.A had opened doors to other american market teams, it clearly hurt best type market teams too (like Quebec and Hartford) and it has since diluted the product (player talent pool) with too many teams, too many wrong market teams.

Anyways, Let's Go Oilers for 2013-14

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#47 John Chambers
August 09 2013, 06:12AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I was 5 when Gretzky was traded. I have a bit of a different take on The Trade

Wow, that was a great read.

My experience is similar, and somehow worse because I asked for and received a Jimmy Carson jersey the next Christmas.

What the hell were my parents thinking?

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#48 Citizen David
August 09 2013, 10:06AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I've seen some media members cheer openly for teams they cover. It happens, but the vast majority of people who work the beat, no matter what the sport, approach it professionally and objectively.

It goes without saying that over the years you develop relationships with people involved with the team you cover, but on a day-to-day basis in terms of coverage, if you let those relationships blur your perspective, you're not doing your job.

Personally I like when the media are fans. Nobody calls a better game than Corey Graham. But you can tell he's a homer.

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#49 SrCain
August 09 2013, 11:58AM
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Blah blah blah, a hockey player got traded, blah blah 25 yrs ago boo hoo. 24/7 it's on talk radio with countless newspaper articles. Time to move on folks.

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#50 jonny94
August 09 2013, 12:42PM
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Can we mark an anniversary for his accomplishments as an Oiler?

That would be a nice change. We should reflect with all he's done with the Edmonton Oilers.

Instead of wonder what could have been... We know what he did do and that's win 4 Stanley cups and much much more. Wayne Gretzky never had that same feeling again of winning a Stanley Cup anywhere else besides Edmonton and that right there folks is something only Edmonton and Wayne Gretzky got to share and no one else.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8GIsX26Stw

Cheers Oilers fans!

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