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What was Gretzky thinking after the 1991 playoff loss to Edmonton?

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02-23-2013, 01:42 AM
  #1
Big Phil
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What was Gretzky thinking after the 1991 playoff loss to Edmonton?

Alright, we all know that 1988 trade to L.A. hurt Edmonton in the long run (thanks again for your judgement Peter Pocklington). The Oilers were a .500 team in 1989 and Gretzky knocked them out in the first round. Then the Oilers win the Cup in 1990 without Gretzky and knock out Gretzky en route to it. At the time I don't doubt Pocklington was thinking to himself "see we don't need him to win". Now with the benefit of hindsight we know darn well that the Oilers lost some Cups trading away Gretzky. We didn't know this yet in 1990.

But in 1991 the Oilers sort of went on a tear in the postseason. They won that dramatic series against Calgary and then beat L.A. in 6 games with lots of overtime. Gretzky had come off a spectacular regular season but in the Edmonton series only had 5 points. The Oilers were rolling and they were defending champs facing the seemingly easy Northstars. No doubt they were favourites to reach the Cup final again. They got beaten pretty heavily by the Northstars in 5 games and they had another decent run post-Messier in 1992 but then went downhill and have been there for the last 20 years.

However, after Edmonton beat L.A. in 1991 what was going through Gretzky's mind before he saw them lose to Minnesota? I always wondered if he was starting to even question just how much he was worth to that team at that very moment considering they could very well win a second title without him. I also wonder if Pocklington was gloating after that Edmonton/LA series. Anyway, just some thoughts.

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02-23-2013, 10:19 AM
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Dennis Bonvie
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Alright, we all know that 1988 trade to L.A. hurt Edmonton in the long run (thanks again for your judgement Peter Pocklington). The Oilers were a .500 team in 1989 and Gretzky knocked them out in the first round. Then the Oilers win the Cup in 1990 without Gretzky and knock out Gretzky en route to it. At the time I don't doubt Pocklington was thinking to himself "see we don't need him to win". Now with the benefit of hindsight we know darn well that the Oilers lost some Cups trading away Gretzky. We didn't know this yet in 1990.

But in 1991 the Oilers sort of went on a tear in the postseason. They won that dramatic series against Calgary and then beat L.A. in 6 games with lots of overtime. Gretzky had come off a spectacular regular season but in the Edmonton series only had 5 points. The Oilers were rolling and they were defending champs facing the seemingly easy Northstars. No doubt they were favourites to reach the Cup final again. They got beaten pretty heavily by the Northstars in 5 games and they had another decent run post-Messier in 1992 but then went downhill and have been there for the last 20 years.

However, after Edmonton beat L.A. in 1991 what was going through Gretzky's mind before he saw them lose to Minnesota? I always wondered if he was starting to even question just how much he was worth to that team at that very moment considering they could very well win a second title without him. I also wonder if Pocklington was gloating after that Edmonton/LA series. Anyway, just some thoughts.
I got my money.

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02-23-2013, 12:00 PM
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Big Phil
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
I got my money.
Not if you know Gretzky's competitiveness

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02-23-2013, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Not if you know Gretzky's competitiveness
I think somewhere Gretzky relaxed on competiveness and actually became a money player. I know there were statements like that in an interview where Gretzky says he already won everything.

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02-23-2013, 12:08 PM
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Big Phil
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I think somewhere Gretzky relaxed on competiveness and actually became a money player. I know there were statements like that in an interview where Gretzky says he already won everything.
I think that seperates Gretzky from the likes of the modern player, just another reason we just may never see someone like him again. You really don't think he wanted to carry the Kings to a Cup? I am pretty sure he wasn't ticked off that he had a shortened summer in 1993 when they almost won. Gretzky never quit trying to win during his career.

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02-23-2013, 12:35 PM
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He's got to be thinking what's next for him and the LA Kings. But I don't think he's too worried, because he and his teams always bounced back after a disappointment - the loss to the Kings in 82, the Flames in 86, the trade in 88. However, there also comes a time in a player's career where he has to start wondering if he can make a difference anymore. It happens to all of the so called game breaking players - Lafleur after the 81 loss to the Oilers, Lemieux after the 96 loss to the Panthers. Then Gretzky has the injury in the 91 CC and he's got to be wondering if he's nearing the end of the line. Then the Kings have that great run in 93 only to be beat by a team that played better, not necessarily a better team. But just as we all had pretty written off Gretzky as a game changing player, he has that great playoff in 97. Funny thing is Lindros and the Flyers beat Lemieux and the Pens, then Gretzky and the Rangers. Lindros has got to feel on top of the world at this point. And then... All sports and life will find ways to make you feel mortal eventually.

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02-23-2013, 03:19 PM
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Dennis Bonvie
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Not if you know Gretzky's competitiveness
If winning was the primary goal, why not stay in Edmonton for less money?

He had his pride. He wanted what he was worth. That was his choice.

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02-23-2013, 03:22 PM
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What was he thinking? "**** you, Tikkanen..."

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02-23-2013, 03:30 PM
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Even if edm does beat minnesota I doubt they beat the pens in the final. But if you look at the rosters of the oilers and kings in 91, the Oilers still had a quite a bit of experience while the kings were what you could comoare to the boudreau era washington caps, a team with good players but no proven winners (minus Gretzky and Larry Robinson who was at the end of his career). Compare them to the Oilers who still had Messier,Anderson,McTavish,Tikkanen,Lowe and Tikkanen along with Fuhr and Ranford in net, and evreyone healing from injuries at playoff time. I think that in the back of Gretzky's mind he knew that the experience was what beat the kings.

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02-23-2013, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
If winning was the primary goal, why not stay in Edmonton for less money?

He had his pride. He wanted what he was worth. That was his choice.
If you read his 1990 autobiography he did state he was going to be a free agent in 1989. However, he never wanted to leave Edmonton at all. He would have never left that town to sign for more money, which is what he says in that book which makes sense because it was very fresh at that time.

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Originally Posted by CharlestownChiefsESC View Post
Even if edm does beat minnesota I doubt they beat the pens in the final. But if you look at the rosters of the oilers and kings in 91, the Oilers still had a quite a bit of experience while the kings were what you could comoare to the boudreau era washington caps, a team with good players but no proven winners (minus Gretzky and Larry Robinson who was at the end of his career). Compare them to the Oilers who still had Messier,Anderson,McTavish,Tikkanen,Lowe and Tikkanen along with Fuhr and Ranford in net, and evreyone healing from injuries at playoff time. I think that in the back of Gretzky's mind he knew that the experience was what beat the kings.
I was thinking more or less about what was he thinking about how he would be perceived? Pocklington made some stupid comments in the 1989 playoffs when Edmonton was ahead 3-1 in the series claiming they didn't "need" Gretzky. Then the Kings won three straight and claimed the series. No doubt Pocklington had to have been thinking that after the 1991 series win against L.A. The Oilers were defending champs, going to the semis, etc. I have often wondered if Gretzky started to think whether or not he would be revered the same if the Oilers just kept on winning without him.

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02-23-2013, 03:41 PM
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Dennis Bonvie
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If you read his 1990 autobiography he did state he was going to be a free agent in 1989. However, he never wanted to leave Edmonton at all. He would have never left that town to sign for more money, which is what he says in that book which makes sense because it was very fresh at that time.



I was thinking more or less about what was he thinking about how he would be perceived? Pocklington made some stupid comments in the 1989 playoffs when Edmonton was ahead 3-1 in the series claiming they didn't "need" Gretzky. Then the Kings won three straight and claimed the series. No doubt Pocklington had to have been thinking that after the 1991 series win against L.A. The Oilers were defending champs, going to the semis, etc. I have often wondered if Gretzky started to think whether or not he would be revered the same if the Oilers just kept on winning without him.
I've heard him say himself that he wanted to get the money he felt he was worth. I'm sure whoever wrote his book in 1990 that saying such would not help his squeaky clean image.

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02-23-2013, 03:49 PM
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Big Phil
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
I've heard him say himself that he wanted to get the money he felt he was worth. I'm sure whoever wrote his book in 1990 that saying such would not help his squeaky clean image.
Rick Reilly the high profile Sports Illustrated writer helped him write it. I think as time has gone on we've seen that Pocklington ran the team to the ground financially. Gretzky was the best player in the world and he wasn't getting paid nearly what he should have and to take a home town discount for a decade is pretty fair. He had signed a 20 year deal in 1979. He had always intended to be an Oiler. As time has gone on the fault has drifted away from Janet and Wayne and been put squarely on the shoulders of the man who is to blame - Pocklington.

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02-23-2013, 04:29 PM
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This would be easier if I went to Detroit instead?
Maybe I should have brought Ranford with me too?
At least if we make it to the Finals some time soon, Hrudey can't possibly let in any more soft overtime goals...

Personally I was even more dumbfounded when I saw the 1992 Edmonton team make the Final Four, without any of the superstars from the dynasty run.

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02-24-2013, 06:18 PM
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I wish I was Mario Lemieux.

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02-24-2013, 09:01 PM
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He probably for the firs time really took notice that Messier was an amazing player. Maybe he was happy to see his good friend take the next step and become one of the best players in the world.

I am not a huge Messier fan, but his cup runs inn 90 and 94 proved a lot. Gretzky seems like a humble guy, but who knows?

I think he would have been happy for his old pals and asked himself what if he had stayed? how many more cups?

I don't think Gretzky ever doubted himself or ever questioned his greatness. His 93 run to the finals and what he did for LA in 89 were enough, if he needed it.

Doubt himself or worth to the Oilers? don't think so. He put Edmonton on the hockey map.

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02-24-2013, 11:15 PM
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On the espn 30 for 30 documentary they ask him what would have happened if he stayed in Edmonton. He says that he thinks he would have won 4 more cups. At the time though I'm sure he thought he could carry that LA team to a cup

He also directly says part of the reason he left was because he wanted to be the highest paid player in hockey and he felt he deserved that.

Documentary is called King's Ransom and its on Netflix

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02-24-2013, 11:47 PM
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With Edmonton starting to trade away more and more of his former teammates, I'm not sure if Gretzky had any affinity towards Edmonton, especially when Messier was sent to New York. The Kings also let Gretzky run the ship and they brought in a bunch of his former teammates (and Peter Millar, the Oilers' former equipment manager).

You could go back to the Paul Coffey trade to realize the financial troubles that Pocklington was having. After Gretzky, they also got rid of Fuhr, Steve Smith, Mess, Kurri, Huddy, Lowe, Beukeboom, Graves, Tikkanen, Anderson, etc. The team was decimated not long after they won the Cup in 1990, so I would think any feelings Gretzky had for that team slowly faded away. He's made his permanent residence in Southern California, so I would think that he grew to love LA.

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02-25-2013, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
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On the espn 30 for 30 documentary they ask him what would have happened if he stayed in Edmonton. He says that he thinks he would have won 4 more cups. At the time though I'm sure he thought he could carry that LA team to a cup

He also directly says part of the reason he left was because he wanted to be the highest paid player in hockey and he felt he deserved that.

Documentary is called King's Ransom and its on Netflix
I watched that several months ago but I don't remember him saying that. He left because he thought that Edmonton didn't want him anymore. And hearing from the way Pocklington treated the situation, I can't really blame him. Even in his autobiography he stated that Bruce McNall wanted to make him the first million dollar hockey player and Gretz responded by saying "that's too much." (Who knows if that's what really happened or if it's just false modesty though).

He did say in the documentary that he doesn't have any regrets and would do it (go to LA) again. He probably felt that with Pocklington, there was really nothing he could do. It was out of his control.

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02-25-2013, 05:52 AM
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I always thought it was incredible that in a 10 year span, the Oilers made the the conference finals 8 of those years. In a 20+ plus team league, that's fantastic.

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02-25-2013, 11:53 AM
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I always thought it was incredible that in a 10 year span, the Oilers made the the conference finals 8 of those years. In a 20+ plus team league, that's fantastic.
That's what having a prime Wayne Gretzky will do for you - especially when you put him with a prime Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, and Mark Messier, and backstop all of them with a prime Grant Fuhr.

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02-28-2013, 06:59 PM
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If you find ESPN's SportsCentury on Gretzky, you see Reilly talking about Gretzky revising many parts of the book's initial drafts. Likely there is some comment in regards to wanting to be paid what he's worth on the editing floor.

Thing is, Gretzky gets criticized for not getting involved in players union business in the 80s, at a time when he could have told the owners to serve every player a sundae wearing a tutu and they would have done it. But Gretzky wanting to get paid what he was worth finally blew the lid off the secrecy around players' value to the owners.

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03-02-2013, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
If winning was the primary goal, why not stay in Edmonton for less money?

He had his pride. He wanted what he was worth. That was his choice.
Not really. Edmonton management had to convince him that a trade was necessary. He didn't want to leave Edmonton, until he knew Pocklington didn't want him anymore.

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03-05-2013, 01:59 PM
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I've heard him say himself that he wanted to get the money he felt he was worth. I'm sure whoever wrote his book in 1990 that saying such would not help his squeaky clean image.
Anyone watch three kings ransom?

Gretzky wanted his respected money but oilers mishandled everything. They basically screwed him over. owner was practically in debt

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03-05-2013, 02:04 PM
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On the espn 30 for 30 documentary they ask him what would have happened if he stayed in Edmonton. He says that he thinks he would have won 4 more cups. At the time though I'm sure he thought he could carry that LA team to a cup

He also directly says part of the reason he left was because he wanted to be the highest paid player in hockey and he felt he deserved that.

Documentary is called King's Ransom and its on Netflix
Onnce again, in espns doc.

He says he prob could have won 4 more but also makes kings owner request more in the rrade. Gretzky realized w the original trade, kings would have lost many key players. Gretzky got himself a better trade in end and prob then he had confidence but he truly lrft for his owner treated him duringmoney problems

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03-05-2013, 02:54 PM
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Anyone watch three kings ransom?

Gretzky wanted his respected money but oilers mishandled everything. They basically screwed him over. owner was practically in debt
Practically?

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