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The Wayne Gretzky trade

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11-30-2004, 08:41 AM
  #1
barrytrotzsneck
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The Wayne Gretzky trade

I'm in the process of putting something larger together, CBA-related, for the Business of Hockey board, and am looking for a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the Gretzy trade from Edmonton to LA, the how's and the why's and the effects\reactions in both cities. While I was a hockey fan at the time, i was only 10 years old, so the logistics of the situation probably escaped me and I'm not all that knowledgeable about the circumstances\details, so if anyone could provide me, either firsthand in this thread or via PM...or point me to a good website to provide me the details, I'd be eternally grateful.

thanks in advance
nmk

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11-30-2004, 08:46 AM
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Best bet would be if you could get your hands on a copy of Gretzky's autobiography.

It goes into quite a bit of detail regarding Gretzky's contract with Pocklington, it was a personal services deal, not just a deal with the Edmonton Oilers.

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11-30-2004, 08:53 AM
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Flyers Fan
Best bet would be if you could get your hands on a copy of Gretzky's autobiography.

It goes into quite a bit of detail regarding Gretzky's contract with Pocklington, it was a personal services deal, not just a deal with the Edmonton Oilers.
I was looking into getting this up later tonight, though . I'll probably read that anyway, maybe throw it on my Christmas list, but in the meantime...anyone with the time to give me a moderately detailed account...would be...cool

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11-30-2004, 09:08 AM
  #4
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My suggestion is to get feedback from the History of Hockey board. I'm in the same boat as you, in that I think it's an interesting trade, but was too young to remember any of the particulars that might be of use to you.

In terms of what it meant, I think it put the image to Edmonton fans that they were a second class market. To them, the fact they couldn't keep him in his prime meant they were doomed to this fate. Whether or not this is true will be debated by many, but the fact is, that's the message that many of the Oiler faithful received.

For LA, it meant a chance for hockey to blossom in a big-money, non-traditional market. The move was regarded as positive one, as it generated interest in the team. It was all part of the great hope of tapping into the great American market. It opened the door to the Southern Expansion of the '90s. Again, you'll get differing opinions on whether this has been a good or bad move for the game.

For hockey in general, it was a signficant move because it put the concept of financial worth on every player. If Gretzky was worth millions of dollars, then how much was Lemieux worth? How much for Bourque, Yzerman, Messier, Roy, etc.? It started the ball rolling on salary escalation, and really, introduced the game of hockey to the realities of economics.

That's all I can really contribute. Like I said, I think you need to talk to people who were old enough to really understand the details of the time.


Last edited by discostu: 11-30-2004 at 09:26 AM.
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11-30-2004, 02:35 PM
  #5
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If you needed to know the details regarding players-

To LA:Gretzky, Marty McSorely, Mike Krushelnyski
To Edmonton:Jimmy Carson, Marty Gelinas, 1st round picks in '89(Jason Miller), '91(Martin Rucinsky), and '93(Nick Staduhar), and $15 Million in cold hard American Currency

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11-30-2004, 02:55 PM
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acr
If you needed to know the details regarding players-

To LA:Gretzky, Marty McSorely, Mike Krushelnyski
To Edmonton:Jimmy Carson, Marty Gelinas, 1st round picks in '89(Jason Miller), '91(Martin Rucinsky), and '93(Nick Staduhar), and $15 Million in cold hard American Currency
With the power of hind-sight and knowing who they would get with those 1st round picks, would the trade still be made? Ah, the power of hind-sight.

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Old
11-30-2004, 03:02 PM
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Nuts, I have the Ken Dryden CBC series, 'Home Game' on VHS back home (which first aired in 1989, I believe, and led to his book). An entire episode is devoted to the the rising role of money in hockey, and most of that hour devoted to the dynamics of the Gretzky trade. The segment tracked the looming trade day by day, with interviews with each of Pocklington, Gretzky, McNall after the fact with their respective recollections of what unfolded... virtually all of the concerned parties chime in, and Dryden narrates the ongoing developments that led up to the trade itself.

I know that's virtually useless, given your timeline, but that's the series you want to try to acquire if you have a sustained, longer-term interest in exploring the details of the trade. The six-part series is worth watching, regardless. Altogether excellent. I'm not sure if you can find copies in VHS or DVD for sale online anymore.

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11-30-2004, 09:10 PM
  #8
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Drat.... I lent a friend my copy of Esposito's autobiography, and he claims that he talked with Pocklington about Gretz when he was GM of the Rangers. I believe the deal was something like Vanbiesbrouck, Kisio, Poddubny, 3 1st round picks and cash. Esposito says Rangers ownership nixed the deal because of the money component.

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11-30-2004, 11:39 PM
  #9
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excellent stuff. anyone else have anything they can add?

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12-01-2004, 12:03 AM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KING ELVI
With the power of hind-sight and knowing who they would get with those 1st round picks, would the trade still be made? Ah, the power of hind-sight.
If they had this hind-sight then in '89 they would have chosen Nik Lidstrom, in '91 they'd could have grabbed Palffy and in '93 they could snag either Bertuzzi or Koivu... oh and I'm sure they could grab an extra 6th rounder from the Red Wings in the Carson deal to grab Yushkevich at the '91 Draft. Would have turned out way better for the Oilers with the hind sight, eh?

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12-01-2004, 12:52 AM
  #11
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I looked at what picks the Oilers could have chosen in that draft. Ouch. To be fair, Lidstrom was a 3rd rounder, and not expected to turn into (arguably) the defenseman of the decade.

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12-01-2004, 01:36 AM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KING ELVI
With the power of hind-sight and knowing who they would get with those 1st round picks, would the trade still be made? Ah, the power of hind-sight.
Probably because according to McNall, it was all about the money for Pocklington.

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Old
12-01-2004, 07:45 AM
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomorekids
I'm in the process of putting something larger together, CBA-related, for the Business of Hockey board, and am looking for a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the Gretzy trade from Edmonton to LA, the how's and the why's and the effects\reactions in both cities. While I was a hockey fan at the time, i was only 10 years old, so the logistics of the situation probably escaped me and I'm not all that knowledgeable about the circumstances\details, so if anyone could provide me, either firsthand in this thread or via PM...or point me to a good website to provide me the details, I'd be eternally grateful.

thanks in advance
nmk
From what I recall, Peter Pocklington the majority owner of the Edmonton Oilers was having financial problems with his private businesses, specifically a strike at a meat packing plant was bleeding him dry. The sale and consequent trade of Wayne Gretzky to LA involved $25 million, I think, which back then was a very substantial amount of money which I believe prevented him from going bankrupt. Pocklington had also run for the Canadian Conservative leadership with the hope of running for Prime Minister but dropped out because of financial problems and it was eventually won by Joe Clark. (debts building and no cash coming in due to strike).

McNall the owner of the LA Kings at the time thought getting the best player in hockey and the world would bring the fans out. He also had some Hollywood connections and had the bright idea to bring out Canadian cellebrities like John Candy, Michael J. Fox, Allan Thick who brought out their cellebrity friends. From there it took off and not only put LA on the hockey map (although Marcel Dion sort of did as well, but not to the same extent as Gretzky) but it put hockey on the US map and became very popular, especially when they made it to the playoffs against Edmonton, that made world headlines. Remember, that trade was shortly after Wayne married Janice in a telivised wedding that resembled a royal wedding and also made world headlines (Janice was an actress with her own Hollywood connections). The Edmonton fans were devastated, their hero, there leader was gone. Wayne cried at the press conference trying to come to terms with the trade but put on a very brave face in the LA press conference. (I think he was torn but he was also quite aware that this trade was taking place, in fact, he insisted that McSorley be part of it). His close friend McSorley now coaches the Phoenix farm team.

If you will recall, McNall, John Candy and Wayne bought the Toronto Argonauts and increased the value of that team substantially as well. Bought low - sold high. McNall was all about making headlines which made things interesting which sells tickets. At that time everything he touched was turning to gold, everyone wanted to be seen at the hockey games and things were going great until he got greedy.

Hope this helps, I'm going mostly with memory here which is shaky at the best of times, but I'm sure most of this is in Gretzkey's book which I too need to pick up and read. Bonne chance la.

P.S. - there is a radio personality at the Team 1200 in Ottawa Jim Jerome who is a close friend of Wayne's (he is the guy Wayne called on the cell phone after Canada won gold in Salt Lake), I believe he was working in Edmonton and hanging out with the Oilers at the time of Wayne's trade.

This is the link to the radio station: http://www.team1200.com/home/index.asp
email:

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12-01-2004, 08:36 AM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomorekids
I'm in the process of putting something larger together, CBA-related, for the Business of Hockey board, and am looking for a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the Gretzy trade from Edmonton to LA, the how's and the why's and the effects\reactions in both cities. While I was a hockey fan at the time, i was only 10 years old, so the logistics of the situation probably escaped me and I'm not all that knowledgeable about the circumstances\details, so if anyone could provide me, either firsthand in this thread or via PM...or point me to a good website to provide me the details, I'd be eternally grateful.

thanks in advance
nmk
Didn't you have an avatar like that before?? Your avs totally freak me out.

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12-01-2004, 09:39 AM
  #15
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Losing Gretzky to the States in that trade was a very loss of Canadian ,much less Edmonton's,identity. Hell we even had politicians in Ottawa trying to block the trade from going through.

I was going to point out that Peter was trying to run for Prime minister but I see someone else beat me to it. And yes Pocklington used the cash to pay for legal problems with (Gainers?)his meat packing plant. He not only screwed over the Oilers by not re-investing that 15 mill, but as an added bonous screwed every Albertan over in that he reneged on loans from the Treasury Branch, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill,while he skipped the country to pursue "other interests". I've never seen a guy rip off the government, and the banks, usually the gov't has deeper pockets than to let someone rip them off like that. Anyway regardless of the official 15 million that's reported I seem to believe that the deal was worth an estimated 30 million to Pocklington. Unfortunately I can't find a link to support that though. All I can say is I swear to you that there was another 15 million that wasn't officially reported.

Bruce Mcnall then upped Waynes salary from 1 million per season to 3 million per season which is where the rising salary problems of today stemmed from. Wayne Gretzky's trade forever hurt Canadian hockey, sure it expanded interest of hockey to the States but left us in a lurch. It seems so ironic that the same man who generated enough interest for teams to open in "non-traditional" markets is also directly responsible for the expansion teams not being able to afford better talent.


Last edited by Boilers*: 12-01-2004 at 09:54 AM.
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Old
12-01-2004, 06:07 PM
  #16
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I have a question regarding this trade as well, I was only about 2 at the time

Was this like the A-Rod fiasco and drawn out for months of talk shows with "Will they really trade Gretzky" being the first thing they talked about, or did this just happen out of the blue an shock everyone?
I'm pretty sure Pocklington's financial troubles were known about in the hockey world, and they probably knew that something could happen, but I'm not sure what course it took

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12-01-2004, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acr
I have a question regarding this trade as well, I was only about 2 at the time

Was this like the A-Rod fiasco and drawn out for months of talk shows with "Will they really trade Gretzky" being the first thing they talked about, or did this just happen out of the blue an shock everyone?
I'm pretty sure Pocklington's financial troubles were known about in the hockey world, and they probably knew that something could happen, but I'm not sure what course it took
Gretzky's family knew he would be dealt before the 88 cup finals, however Wayne only had a feeling something was going to happen, that is why he gathered everyone at centre ice. Walter thought it was to be to Detroit, LA was not even close to being an option, but Pocklington wanted cash in the deal, something the Wings were not going to give.

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12-01-2004, 06:52 PM
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebedom
Remember, that trade was shortly after Wayne married Janice in a telivised wedding that resembled a royal wedding and also made world headlines (Janice was an actress with her own Hollywood connections).

Who the heck is Janice?

I think that I remember a pretty good first hand account of this on the Ultimate Gretzky for those who don't remember. Wayne says that he knew that he was gonna be traded the day that he signed a life time services contract with Peter Puck.

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12-02-2004, 05:38 PM
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Who the heck is Janice?

I think that I remember a pretty good first hand account of this on the Ultimate Gretzky for those who don't remember. Wayne says that he knew that he was gonna be traded the day that he signed a life time services contract with Peter Puck.
I think he meant Janet Gretzky.

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12-02-2004, 07:27 PM
  #20
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I remember hearing rumbings of a Gretzky during the 88 playoffs. Pocklington needed money. He did not trade Gretzky he sold him. He wanted to have all us Oiler fans believe it was all Janets fault. See was the most recent version of Yoko Ono.
Gretzky said he was trying to get out of his contract for over a year. It was believed that Pocklington could lose in court making Gretz a free agent. He sold him to the highest bidder. All the wasted money weve seen the Rangers spend i would of went after the best player in the world in his prime. Sather wasnt happy because he he never got fair hockey value and Puck never reinvested anything back into the team. I was and still am a die hard Oiler fan. I was crushed to lose Gretzky, Edmonton was a very sad place Aug 9 88. I dont think you can blame Gretzky for the spiraling salaries. If anyone was worth 3 mill it was him. Its guys like Yashin and Holik that get 3 times what their worth is ruining the game. If the 200 pt per yr guy gets 3 then outside of Mario everybody else is only worth 1 mill or less. Until the best players can learn to live off a meager 5 mill instead of them all pushing for 10 we will not see a healthy league.

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