Saturday, August 09, 2008

It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

...that the greatest hockey player of all time was traded from the greatest team of all time to the middle of the hockey wasteland, Los Angeles.

It's ironic that this anniversary is almost on the same day as another monumental trade, Brett Favre being shipped to the New York Jets after weeks of his un-retirement dominating the sports headlines.

But I remember the Gretzky trade like it was yesterday. My personal sports hero, Wayne Gretzky, fresh off of a fourth championship in five years with the Edmonton Oilers, was traded without any warning (this was back in the pre-internet days) to the Los Angeles Kings.

I was crushed!

And what made things worse was Gretzky would be donning the most hideous hockey jerseys in the league. The purple and gold of the Kings.

However, my horror turned to joy about ten hours later when I saw this image from the news conference:

That silver and black Kings jersey was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I was converted in an instant. In fact, the new Kings colors would go on to inspire the color scheme for my fantasy football team, the Dark Piranhas, who were also born in the month of August, 1988... but that's a story for another day.

A few months later, I'd buy my own Kings jersey, and a little over two years later, I'd actually met Wayne Gretzky in an amazing set of circumstances, also a story for another day.

In any event, August 9, 1988 was a monumental day in hockey history. Gretzky's presence in Los Angeles opened the doors for hockey teams to spring up all over the South, in places as diverse as Dallas, Miami, and Nashville.

So here's part of both press conferences (Edmonton and Los Angeles) from that day, followed by some twenty year later retrospectives I've found.

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