September 05, 2017

The Night Gretzky Joined Dave King's Olympic Team

It doesn't happen too often, but remember the night that Team Canada obliterated Team Canada and Wayne Gretzky played for both sides?

No? Not too many other people do either. I asked famed Wayne Gretzky jersey collector Shawn Chaulk about it, and he had no clue!

Canada's NHL best took on Canada's Olympic hockey team in an exhibition match one night in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1987.

The match, played on August 10th, was part of Team Canada's training camp in preparation for Canada Cup '87. The night before the two teams faced off in Sydney, Nova Scotia, with the NHLers winning 7-1.

The Newfoundland game featured a first period trade. The NHL stars had built up a 9-0 lead in the opening period, thanks in part to Wayne Gretzky's goal and four assists. In order to make things a little more interesting for the sold out crowd of 4200 at Memorial Stadium, the NHLers proposed the trade

Gretzky said when the five pros joined the Olympic squad they went to the neighboring dressing room with the idea of providing leadership and encouragement.
"We're out there for similar goals," he said. "We want to win the Canada Cup and they want to win the gold medal (at the Calgary Olympics). We're not here to embarrass anyone."
So Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Brian Propp, Rick Tocchet and Brad McCrimmon switched dressing rooms. Joining the NHLers were defencemen Serge Roy and Tony Stiles and forwards Ray Cote, Claude Vilgrain and Don McLaren.
Even Gretzky could not work much magic for the Olympians. He was unable to register a point as the game ended with a score of 12-1. The only goal for the Olympians was scored by Gretzky's former Oilers teammate Randy Gregg.

Still, it must have been a dream come true for Dave King. He spent years trying to upset the mighty Russians with speedy, undersized defensive forwards who couldn't score. To suddenly have the greatest offensive player in hockey history on his side must have been a thrill, even if it was for one night only.
I have been unable to find a photo of Gretzky in an Olympian jersey. Given that this "trade" was very spur-of-the-moment I suspect Gretzky did not have his usual 99 on the jersey.

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