ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - JANUARY 24: Wayne Gretzky addresses fans prior to the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Enterprise Center on January 24, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It was 34 years ago today when “The Trade” that shocked the world went down in the NHL.  I’m talking about the 1988 Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers trading “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was during my first year in radio.  I was still upset about my beloved Boston Bruins losing in 4 straight to Gretzky and the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals back in May.  Gretzky of course claimed his second Conn Smythe Trophy and setting playoff records with 31 assists in just 18 games, and 13 points in the Finals series.

I was on vacation listening to WFAN in New York while driving with a buddy of mine from Rhode Island to Atlantic City.  It was Tuesday, August 9th, 1988 when the deal was officially announced.  I nearly drove off the Jersey Turnpike when I heard it.

“The Trade”

The Edmonton Oilers traded Gretzky along with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to the Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash, and the Kings’ first-round draft picks in 1989 and 1993.  Now we certainly have seen in this country when politicians try to get involved with professional sports, it’s usually a disaster in the making.  It was no different north of the boarder.  Canadians to the extent that New Democratic Party House Leader Nelso Riis demanded the government block it.  Meanwhile, Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington was burned in effigy outside Northlands Coliseum.

It was also reported a bit later that Gretzky originally found out about from his dad just two hours after the Oilers had beaten the Bruins to win the NHL Stanley Cup, that the team was in discussions to trade him.  Unreal!!  Apparently Poklington needed the cash because his other business were failing.

“The Aftermath”

Gretzky made an immediate impact on the ice for the Kings scoring on his first shot on goal in the first regular season game.  In Gretzky’s first appearance in Edmonton after the trade, a game nationally televised in Canada, he received a four-minute standing ovation.  The arena was sold out, and the attendance of 17,503 was the Oilers’ biggest crowd ever to that date.

“The Trade” was the talk of the entire world that day and really for the rest of the summer.  The Great One went on to have some other terrific seasons with the Kings, even leading them to the finals during the 92-93 season.  They eventually lost in 5 games to the Montreal Canadians.  He finished his career with the St. Louis Blues and then his last 3 years with the New York Rangers.

Wayne Gretzky is arguably the greatest NHL hockey player to ever live.  It’s still hard to believe that he was part of one of the most shocking trades in sports history.  By the way, I netted 190 bucks in Atlantic City that week playing 5 dollar black jack.







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