It's been 31 years since, arguably the best player to ever play the game, was sent from Edmonton to Los Angeles in a deal that would become known as "The Trade."
Wayne Gretzky was barley coming off leading the Oilers to their fourth Stanley Cup in five years when he was traded in a move that would send shockwaves throughout the hockey world.
Hey, we all know the story...
But it's fun to go back this time of year and look things over again. For instance, here's the deal if you forgot:
Wayne Gretzky (F)
Mike Krushelnyski (F)
Marty McSorley (D)
Jimmy Carson (F)
Martin Gelinas (F)
1st-Round Pick in 1989
1st-Round Pick in 1991
1st-Round Pick in 1993
Kings fans were ecstatic. Oilers fans were livid - with many seeing this as the last straw for then-Oilers owner Peter Pocklington.
The Hockey News has a fantastic article they published last year that breaks down all the other players in the deal, as well as the draft picks.
Damage Done in LA
Gretzky played eight seasons with the Kings, where he managed to take home a little bit of hardware in that time span.
1988-89: Hart Memorial Trophy (his last, making it 9 total)
1989-90: Art Ross Trophy
1990-91: Art Ross Trophy
1990-91: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
1991-92: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
1993-94: Art Ross Trophy
1993-94: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
In 539 games in LA, he notched 918 points. That's 246 goals and 672 assists, folks...insane numbers!
It was also with LA that he would go on to break and set a slew of NHL records.
What You Might Not Know
Gretzky has said he wasn't traded, but, rather, sold - citing that he had a unique situation where he could essentially write his own ticket and go wherever he wanted...
With news of Gretz's availability, I assume every team in the league probably put some kind of pitch together for EDM to look over. But I didn't realize the list had been narrowed down to three teams: New York, Detroit and LA.
Gretzky was house-sitting for Alan Thicke and watching his son, Robin, when he got the news that the deal was done.
Contrary to popular belief, Gretzky's wife, Janet, was not the one that convinced him to go to LA. It was his dad. Janet told him he should play in Detroit.
A member of the Canadian Parliament proposed a block (at the federal government level) to stop the trade/sale of Gretzky unless it was to another Canadian team.
Pocklington and and Glen Sather (Oilers GM) tried to cancel the deal in the eleventh hour. They pulled Gretzky aside right before the press conference and told him they would call it off, but Gretz refused. Pocklington said:
"My mistake was not going over to him and putting my arm around him and saying, 'Wayne, it's OK, pal. If you want to call it off, let's do it.'"
In a niche sport like hockey, The Trade was vital to the growth of the game. The hype surrounding Gretzky and the success he had in LA, not only helped build up the Kings, but it made hockey relative in a non-traditional market - while simultaneously sparking interest in other non-traditional markets across the US; many of which now have teams.
There's a great quote from an old DVD I have where the Oilers equipment manager says:
"I'm not the first person to say this, but, he's always been a better person than he has been a hockey player. When you really get to know him, then you know why they call him 'The Great One.'"
If you haven't seen it already, A Day That Changed the Game is a video all hockey fans should watch.
A personal hero of mine, Gretzky has been a great ambassador, both on and off the ice, for the game we love.