It's almost like every kid who was a hockey fan in the 80's has had a similar moment. All over the internet, people are rekindling horrible memories of Wayne Gretzky being traded by Peter Pocklington to the L.A. Kings 19 years ago today. I might as well chip in.
I still have the front page clipping from the Ottawa Citizen where I learned that my hero was leaving the Oilers. I only had two favourite teams then - the Oilers and the Red Wings. The Red Wings were terrible at the time but the Oilers ruled over everybody. I actually started crying. Like a freaking baby. It was almost like losing a family member. Seriously. How could this disaster happen?
Basically because Peter Pocklington was a heartless capitalist. He owned the biggest meat packing plant in Alberta and proceeded to wage a war with his employee's union by bringing in replacement workers during a strike in 1986. This ego-driven war eventually crippled the business and Pocklington decided to cash in on Wayne Gretzky. It was that simple. He needed money and he sold the greatest player to ever live to future convict Bruce McNall. Nice move. He eventually had to sell the Oil after threatening the entire community by saying he wanted to move the team to Houston.
The craziest part of the story to me is the underhanded tactics Pocklington used to move Wayne. Nobody in the hockey department wanted to trade Gretzky. Gretzky himself was planning on raising his family in Edmonton. But Pocklington floated the idea to Gretzky's father and then, worst of all, allowed McNall to meet with Wayne in L. A. During this meeting, Pocklington called McNall's office and pretended not to know that Wayne was there. McNall put Pocklington on speaker phone where he went into a tirade against Gretzky. This then spurred Wayne into asking for a trade thereby allowing Pocklington to claim to the media that it was Wayne who wanted to be moved. Bullshit.
McNall and Pocklington obviously set this up in such a way that Wayne would have no choice but to ask for a trade.
And so we sit back and celebrate Peter Puck in all his infamy.
Trivia: After the Oilers won their first Cup, Pocklington gave his players the traditional Stanley Cup ring. Only problem was, the diamonds were fakes. Gretzky and some of his teammates actually had to pay to have the fake diamonds replaced with real ones! Now that's class!