The Ageing Veteran Perspective
August 9, 1988. The day of “The Trade”. The hockey world was reeling as the news broke that The Great One had been traded. Thirty years has passed, and it is still a topic that is discussed. Any time a big name in the league is involved in a trade rumour, the answer is always “if Gretzky can be traded, anyone can be traded.”
Think about how much has changed in the reporting world of sports. Social media has provided unprecedented access to behind the scenes and goings on within teams. Would modern technology have perhaps made that trade look different or even impossible? Imagine logging into your favourite hockey blog, naturally wheelhousehockey.org, and reading that your Oilers were about to trade Gretzky. Look at how much hatred is filtered toward Melnick regarding the possibility of trading Karlsson, and - no insult to him - but that’s not even close to comparable in terms of what Gretzky meant to the Oilers or the city of Edmonton itself. Current fans and the media have unprecedented access to the teams and players – who knows exactly how things would have shaken out in 1988 had that level of player exposure existed then.
Shortly after ‘The Trade’ things didn’t seem so bad for Edmonton; the Oilers won the cup two years later in 1990. But soon after there really wasn’t much to brag about. The Oilers were dismal other than an almost miracle run in 2006. Finally things seem to be turning around for the team thirty years later under McDavid’s captaincy. They’ve had more chances than any other team, and clearly made many mistakes, but it seems they didn’t miss at last.
Will we ever see another trade close to the impact of “The Trade”? Could history repeat itself in Edmonton and another generational talent moved? With the salary cap in place, and how trades currently play out it seems very unlikely.
But if Gretzky can be traded, anyone can be traded.