Throwback: Wayne Gretzky returns to Edmonton at the 1989 NHL All-Star Game
By Cam Lewis10 months ago
The 1989 NHL All-Star Game was a homecoming for Wayne Gretzky.
He had already suited up as an opponent at the Northlands Coliseum earlier in the season but Gretzky captaining the Campbell Conference gave fans in Edmonton an opportunity to again cheer for him as one of their own for a final time.
Six months earlier, the hockey world was shocked when word came out that the Oilers had traded Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. Gretzky had just led Edmonton to their fourth Stanley Cup in five seasons and nobody other than team owner Peter Pocklington saw the move coming.
Gretzky’s first season in Los Angeles came as advertised, as he had 38 goals and 117 points through 53 games at the All-Star break. He was unsurprisingly voted in by the fans as a starter and the first-ever All-Star Game in Edmonton became touted as Gretzky’s return.
When the players were introduced, Gretzky received the loudest cheer from the 17,503 fans who were in attendance. Head coach Glen Sather reunited Gretzky with his longtime linemate Jari Kurri and it only took the duo a little more than one minute to open the scoring…
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Another storyline in this All-Star Game was Gretzky vs. Mario Lemieux, as the No. 1 overall pick from the 1984 draft was vying to take the crown as the best player in the game.
The previous season, Lemieux led the league in goals and points and snapped Gretzky’s streak of winning the Hart Trophy at eight years. Lemieux was also the MVP of the 1988 All-Star Game in St. Louis, as he put up six points and scored the game-winning goal in a 6-5 overtime victory for the Wales Conference.
Gretzky took the spotlight back from Lemieux in his homecoming. He scored one goal and two assists in the Campbell Conference’s 9-5 win and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
After the game, Gretzky credited his MVP victory to the crowd in Edmonton…
“I don’t think one player really dominated,” Gretzky said. “Maybe I got a few votes because of the crowd. They were behind me from the very beginning.”
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