Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Do_The_Trotsky, Feb 18, 2007.
I'm only 20 so I'm not old enough to remember the circumstances behind it. Any insight?
It was all Janets fault! On the serious side it was money problems with the Oilers owner. IIRC he was having serious financial difficulties and that was the easiest way to make money.
Pretty much Pocklington traded him for the cash. They got three 1st rounders too, but you can't trade the best player in the game for $15 million (imagine only $15 million, seems so small now, was big at the time) and try to justify it as a hockey move. It was pretty shameful.
Pocklington's other financial endeavors were taking serious hits, and he needed some sort of financial windfall. So he traded his greatest asset for cash.
The TRADE was ostensibly a financial deal made to look like an an actual player swap. Pocklington got $15 million and Jimmy Carson did not have a very lengthy career as an Oiler.The Kings got their marquee star value player who would help sell ducats in celebrity conscious Tinseltown. Pocklington had Gretzky's contract as financial collateral for his other dealings and was pretty deep in hock to the Alberta Treasury Branch, so the cash gave him an extended financial life until he ultimately had to dispose of his ownership of the Edmonton Oilers. At the time of the trade Gretzky was considered a mid career professional and had already a large string of personal and career accomplishments, thus the comment by Pocklington that Wayne Gretzky was in his words a potential "declining asset". Pocklington already was getting bad press in the Edmonton community after the 1986 Gainer's meat packing strike and the TRADE more or less sealed his fate as community pariah. The Gretzky trade in retrospect diminshed the mystique of hockey for most Canadian fans and those in in Edmonton in particular. Wayne Gretzky wept at his press conference, a pretty bold move in the macho world of hockey.Edmonton hockey fans were stunned and saddened and a good number of them cried too, when the Great One left town.
The NHL did not make any attempt to intervene and in some respects was silently glad that a once in a lifetime superstar was leaving a frozen hockey outpost like Edmonton for the bright lights of LA. The old help "sell the game" hypothesis in a new format.
The LA Kings owner at the time Bruce McNall, was considered the new breed of NHL owner,ultra rich, aggressive and dying to have winning team with a superstar. McNall ultimately proved not to be they tycoon many believed he was and several years later was sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding financial institutions and too much creative book keeping. McNall might haven been more price conscious on the TRADE had it been his own capital at stake. After the trade McNall even leased a special plane to help ease the west coast Kings travel burdens.The Kings gave up their putrid purple and yellow sweaters for Oakland Raider style black.Season opener with Gretzky's first game as King had an almost Messianic quality about it. The Great One had arrived in LA, the team had new colours, a beautiful team jet,a super rich owner and hockey's greatest celebrity had arrived. The word spectacle comes to mind.
A great bit of NHL history.
Excellent post. Good outlook on things.
I don't think enough people have questioned the NHL's role in that. Allowing a trade that was primarily made for an owners personal benefit rather than giving anything to the fans. As you said though, the NHL had to be thrilled to see Gretzky in L.A. In comparison, the league vetoed a Denis Potvin-for-cash trade the Islanders made with the Rangers in the mid-70s. The scary part is that I heard the original trade was just supposed to just for the cash, but Sather insisted on getting some players in return.
In Esposito's book, he claims Pocklington tried to sell Messier to the Rangers around `87, but the Rangers front office back then didn't want to spend the money.
For that alone, we should be grateful to Bruce McNall. Those jerseys were ugly.
I have a popular mechanic magazine from back around the time Gretzky was traded. There is this christmas advertisement in it for some hockey game gretzky was in, and they had a drawing of him in the old purple and gold kings gear, a uniform that he never wore. I always found that kind of weird
Oilers owner Peter Pocklington needed money to help his failing businesses outside of hockey. When he agreed to sell Gretzky to LA, the conversation started like this:
"The deal MUST include $15 million in cash. And, throw in some players"
How could the Oilers ever win a deal like that?
You guys are making Jimmy Carson out to be some kind of scrub. Although he failed in fulfilling a spectacular career, Carson was a bona fide young star at the time and is comparable with an elite talent like the contemporary Malkin or Kopitar. At 19 year old, Jimmy Carson scored 55 goals and 107 and was also LA's leading scorer in the playoffs with 8 points in 5 games. It is unfortunate that a leg injury shattered much of his speed and agility. Also, the Oilers drafted pretty horrifically with their picks from the trade. Had Carson and those draft picks materialized, the Oilers would've been dominant for a long time even after the Gretzky trade.
I'm pretty sure you would agree that the Oilers could never win a trade involving Gretzky, even if only players were involved, and there was no discussion of $$.
Its about time somebody mentioned this. This had potential to be the smartest hockey move of all time, but poor drafting and an unforseeable decline in Carson ruined that.
Dealing Gretzky could never have been a smart move. Carson could have scored 50 goals per season for the next decade, he was not the kind of player that could lead the Oilers to Stanley Cup glory. His attitude problems led to his exit from Edmonton.
Considering the boost Gretzky gave the Kings, the 1st rounders were in the bottom half and those are a crap shoot.
There is no way the Oilers could have won that deal.
I remember hearing somewhere that Gretzky had to chose between Detroit and LA and preferred LA because they were underdogs or something.
And that's the final word on that. Ogo says so.
In the end it wasn't as great for the game of hockey as it was made out to be by some parties. The two principals in this deal McNall and Pocklington were later exposed as little more than financial joyriders and not terribly responsible businessmen. LA never managed to win a Cup and eventually Gretzky wound up finishing his career with St Louis and later the Rangers. It was the first leg of the stool insofar as the dismantling of the Oilers dynasty. Pocklington engaged in more asset stripping in disassembling the the dynasty, as once Gretzky was gone every one else was fair game. By the mids 90's the Oilers franchise was pretty ramshackle and always it seemed in danger of moving somewhere else sunny and warm.Gretzky never won another Cup after he left Edmonton. McNall took his next act to a prison and financial institutions eventually forced Pocklington to divest himself of the Oilers. Gretzky was one of those transcendant sports figures seemingly almost larger than the game of hockey itself and the trade in retrospect seemed pretty mercenary.
His years in Edmonton will always be rememebed as magical seasons.
You have made 39 posts and most bash Gretzky, me or other posters. Perhaps you should relax a little?
The Gainer's plant in Edmonton was failing - and Pocklington sold Gretzky in an attempt to save his BS meat packing plant. It died soon enough anyways.
Pocklington was only a smart business man in the sense of buying the Oilers. Everything else since, well... the rest is history.
As it turned out, Gretzky had six more years of superstar-level output in him, and five more years point-per-game output after that, totalling 1126 points. Add his final, least productive season onto that and you get 1188, which as of today would've been good enough for 44th on the all-time scoring list.
No, there's no way with what they got back that the trade could ever have worked out as a smart hockey move.
Gretzky grew up a Red wing fan, and they were one of the teams that were in the mix, he said that he could choose them, but figured they could make with Steve Y coming up and he thought they were fine - and something pulled him to L.A.
probably the challenge
When he came to L.A. he and the others made the Kings go from dead last to number 1 of all sports in sales of jackets, jerseys, caps...
I remember hearing a story that Gretzky was actually friendly with McNall before the trade, and he was in McNall's office when McNall called Pocklington and asked about obtaining Gretzky to play for the Kings. He had Pocklington on speaker phone, and Pocklington did not know Gretzky was in the office. Apparently Pocklington when on a tirade and said some nasty things about Wayne, and Janet in particular... and that really changed Wayne's attitude about leaving the Oilers.
I believe I heard this in a radio interview with Jim Taylor a few years ago.
i'll quote this one from Barry Melrose:
- Gretzky going to L.A not only saved hockey in california, it saved the NHL
Bill Plaschke from LA Times:
- He re-invented Los Angeles Kings and got hollywood and media coorporations involved and intrested in hockey, which has carried over til today
and Mike Lupica fron NY daily times:
- He is the single biggest reason why this sport expanded the way it did, it is a sunbelt, west coast, warmweather sport now - because of Wayne Gretzky
these are from a documentary i have at home, probably something that's been on tv in canada, cause it's only 15 minutes long, it's a lookback at his career..just awesome, i'm trying to find it on the internet somewhere
quite some impact..
The tears dried pretty quickly, as he was all smiles at the press conference in LA, shortly thereafter.
For all of the questionable business dealings of Pocklington and McNall, Gretzky had plenty of clout in engineering his own trade.
Yep, there isn't a whole lot, outside of Mario Lemieux that would have really been a good move for the Oilers.
Carson would have been a decent return if he didn't get injured. He was at least a young legit #1 when the trade happened.
I understand some fans enthusiasm for the Great One playing in but it sounds like hyperbole to say that his presence saved hockey in So Cal or saved the Kings franchise etc etc.The Kings were in LA since 1967 with mixed success, but they were a viable operation before Gretzky got there. Undoubtedly Gretzky generated a great deal of coverage in a media market hooked on celebrity culture, but to say that this actually saved the NHL is overstatement.