EDMONTON – "I promised Mess that I wouldn't."
Seven words that bring every Oilers fan over 40 back to where they were on that fateful summer day.
This day – August 9, 1988 – is for an adult Edmonton, November 22, 1963 for every aging American. You know where you were and how you found out Wayne Gretzky was being traded, just as (if not on the same scale) how Americans remember when and where they were when US President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas .
When Elvis died. When Henderson met. When this ball from Kawhi rattled around the edge.
There were numerous hockey shops in our country. Big business, like the 10-man swap that Doug Gilmour landed in Toronto in 1992. But is there a trade that inspired a quote that is still used today when a star player is moved?
They don't say, "Well, if Cam Neely can be traded …"
You still say today: "Well, if Wayne Gretzky can be traded …"
This is where we start here in The Big E when the subject is "the players who escaped".
Wayne Gretzky, sold on August 9, 1988
To date, Glen Sather will correct you. Gretzky was not traded. "He was sold," said Oilers General Manager at the time, who knew on the day that owner Peter Pocklington arranged a deal in which Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall made a payment of $ 15 million. Including dollars in the transaction Edmonton ended.
That August day, Gretzky, along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley, traded for $ 15 million, Martin Gelinas, Jimmy Carson, and first round picks in 1989, 1991, and 1993. (The 89 range was sold to the New Jersey Devils against Corey Foster; the 91 crop was harvested by Martin Rucinsky; the 93 range was Nick Stajduhar.)
I was in the Edmonton Journal Sports Department that day, just over a year after my tenure as a sports journalist. My job was to call Walter Gretzky back at Brantford Homestead, and while he pretended to be informed of the deal when we spoke, I always suspected that he already knew and was just playing surprised.
Gretzky played a further 11 NHL seasons (791 games) for LA, the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers. Although he would reach the Stanley Cup final in 1993 and lose to the Montreal Canadiens, the greatest player ever laced up would not have a Stanley Cup in a different uniform than Edmonton's.
While the Rangers team, which won in 1994, included seven of the Dynasty Oilers, Gretzky did not become a blues shirt until 1996. The Rangers contested the playoffs in just one of its three seasons. He retired in 1999.
Miroslav Satan celebrates with Sidney Crosby during his cup victory year with the penguins. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)
Miroslav Satan, traded on March 18, 1997
If we ranked the non-cash deals where the Oilers simply gave up a player who had a great career, Miro Satan would easily top the list.
The young Slovak appeared in 1995-96 with a hellish last name and scored 18 and 17 goals in his two seasons in Edmonton. We now know that he should have been used on the left side of Doug Weight in the long run, but back then head coach Ron Low saw a soft, uncompetitive, European skill type that didn't help enough when he didn't have the puck.
Sather traded Satan for the Buffalo Sabers for a package of Barrie Moore (eight NHL points in 39 games) and Craig Millar (22 points in 114 games). Satan played 13 NHL seasons Edmonton after his two games and complete an illustrious career with 363 goals and 735 points in 1,050 games.
Call a police officer. The Oilers were robbed.
Paul Coffey, traded on November 24, 1987
Adam Graves, left as UFA, 1991
Curtis Joseph, left as UFA, 1998
As a former retail market team that came next after the Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets drove south to Denver and Phoenix respectively, there was a whole category of players who left Edmonton and played elsewhere simply because of that Oilers couldn't – or wouldn't pay for it anymore. In the Pocklington years, people like Coffey and Andy Moog were the first to suspect that the team made a lot of money, but paid its players minimally.
Later, when teams like the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Rangers spent $ 60 million on Edmonton's $ 20-25 million salaries, it was just about players like Joseph, Weight, and Bill Go watch guerin and make the best trade you can, if possible.
Coffey only played seven seasons (532 games) in Edmonton and won three trophies before his salary claims brought him to the Pittsburgh Penguins, which brought back Craig Simpson, among others. Coffey would play 14 more seasons, win another trophy with Pittsburgh and win his third and final Norris Trophy as a red wing in 1994-95.
After Graves won an unexpected cup in 1990 as a member of the Kid Line (with Gelinas and Joe Murphy), he joined the Rangers in the summer of 1991 as UFA. In 1994 he won a trophy with New York. scored 50 goals this season. Fittingly, he shed No. 50 in the Northlands Coliseum.
Curtis Joseph only spent two and a half years as an oiler, but was elected MVP of the team in both seasons (1996-98). He saved Joe Nieuwendyk, who enabled Todd Marchant to win Game 7 at the 1997 Dallas Stars, and defeated Patrick Roy and the much-favored Colorado Avalanche in Round 1 the following year. Then he made his way to a huge raise and became a fan favorite in Toronto.
Andrew Cogliano, traded on July 12, 2011
Cogliano was like so many Oilers classics over the years: he joined an Oilers team that was so poor that he had no problem compiling the list – and robbed him of valuable development time with minors. When Cogliano arrived as a 24-goal man from the University of Michigan and number 25 in the 2005 draft, it was believed that he would be a top 6 centreman and an NHL point producer.
A few years after his career it became clear what his real calling would be:
"I remember meeting (Edmonton coaches Tom Renney and Ralph Krueger) in the training camp," Cogliano recalled his last camp as an oiler in 2010. "You said, 'You can be a guy who really look up Well … but you have to be more of a two-way player. "It was the first year I started to find out things."
After that season, he was assigned to the Anaheim Ducks for a selection in the second round (Marco Roy, who never played an NHL game), where he became the third winger and the best penalty. Cogliano is currently in its 13th NHL season, has played 1,012 games and had an Ironman series of 830 games.
He was a very good deep player for a long time.
Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, lost in the draft WHA extension in 1979
This is an old school.
Gustafsson was a real coup for the World Hockey Association Oilers, who played three playoff games last season at the WHA. Head coach Sather hoped to protect the seasoned Swedes with the forthcoming draft expansion plan into the NHL, but the NHL declared him ineligible because Oilers GM Larry Gordon had somehow missed a deadline to name his protected players. The Washington Capitals moved in with Gustafsson in 1978 and got the player.
Gustafsson would play 629 games for the Caps (196-359-555) over six seasons with 20 goals. When he returned to Sweden in 1989, the Oilers had won four trophies with their European style of play, while Gustafsson had only played 18 career playoff games for the Capitals.
How would he have seen these experienced dynasty teams in Edmonton?