June 16, 2008

The Gretzky Trade: They Said It

Here's some quotes from 20 years ago about the unthinkable Gretzky trade:

* 'There is nothing to it. Every summer it's a different rumor. This one goes in the same bin as the other ones. Put it with the ones about him going to the New York Rangers, the Detroit Red Wings, the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames. ''
- Oilers GM Glen Sather, Aug. 3.

* Rumors that Gretzky would be traded to L.A. were 'ridiculous' and people who started them were 'full of bull.'
- Oilers owner Peter Pocklington, quoted in a story Aug. 7.

* 'As far as I know, though, it's just a rumor.''
- Kings' GM Rogie Vachon, Aug. 3

* 'The last three weeks have been kind of a whirlwind for myself and my wife. But this was my own gut feeling and my decision.'

'I'm disappointed in having to leave Edmonton. I promised Mess (Mark Messier) I wouldn't do this ... ''
- Wayne Gretzky, Aug. 9, the day of the trade.

* 'It's tough for people like us to talk sitting down. We're a lot better standing up, because we make our living on our feet and through our hearts.

'I don't want to try and philosophize on what's happened, but we're all trying to do something that's good for Wayne, the Edmonton Oilers, and the National Hockey League.''
- Sather, Aug. 9, at the press conference.

* 'Your heart says no but your head says yes ... You cannot replace Wayne Gretzky, but I guess when we were faced with the fact the inevitable might happen (losing No. 99 to free agency) it becomes a business transaction and we had to do what's best for the Edmonton Oilers, short-term and long-term.''
- Pocklington, Aug. 9

* 'Thank God I believe in life after death. Are the police on call out there?''
- Oilers co-coach John Muckler, Aug. 9, from his off-season home in Rhode Island.

* 'Sure, it'll be a pressure-cooker. But I'm not Wayne Gretzky ... all I can do is play hard and be myself. ''
- Jimmy Carson, who came from the Kings in the trade.

* 'I feel so happy. I know it is the biggest trade ever in the sport.''
- Martin Gelinas, who also came from the Kings.

* 'I've got to do something radical to sell hockey in L.A. and there's no name in hockey like Wayne Gretzky.''
- Kings owner Bruce McNall, Aug. 9

* 'Everyone we talked to said, `That's it, I'm never going to see another Oilers game.'
- play-by-play man Rod Phillips, describing fan reaction Aug. 9

* 'I must admit I never thought Wayne Gretzky would leave Edmonton. It's very hard for me to believe.'
- Don Cherry, Aug. 9

* 'It appears that regardless of what I say, people are more interested in defending their hero than me.'

'Wayne made the decision on his own accord to be traded to L.A. He said he wanted to be traded and that he wanted to be traded quickly.'
- Pocklington, Aug. 10

* 'He did not want to leave Edmonton ... I don't think they (Pocklington, Sather) appreciated his talent. This proves that a lot of what I said last fall was right. They treat you like a
piece of meat.''
- Paul Coffey, Aug. 10

* 'Whether he wanted to go or not is not a big issue. People should be glad they've seen him play 40 games a year for 10 years. They shouldn't be really that quick to put a knife in his back.''
- Craig MacTavish, Aug. 10

* 'You hear all these things ... and you think it can't happen. What the hell brought this all up.?''
- Mark Messier. Aug. 10

* 'All Wayne has left is an empty apartment and memories. But now he has a new challenge. And it's that drive to attain the impossible that makes him go.''
- Wayne's dad Walter Gretzky, Aug. 10

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