Trade anniversary not worth remembering
By: By Peter Boer
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 06:00 am
Writing about sports in an op-ed space ranks up there with doilies and that soap they sold for fruit for a while as mostly useless and a waste of space. That being said, here is an op-ed devoted to a sports topic.
I will always remember the anniversary of the Wayne Gretzky trade because it falls on my parents’ anniversary (Happy 38th anniversary Mom and Dad!). It is not that I try to remember it – if I could I’d be content to never remember it again.
But the Edmonton news media won’t let anyone forget, even though it has been 25 years now since we were all treated to the sight of Gretzky mopping tears from his face. It’s an enduring image because it gets replayed ad nauseum this time of year and, it seems, will be in perpetuity as Edmonton as a whole struggles to be relevant on the sports scene.
On the anniversary, both of Edmonton’s papers devoted their front pages to it, both featuring that same picture of a crying hockey star. And it continued as local TV news programs descend on local sports bars and ask its most insightful citizens – drinking at 1 p.m. on a weekday – for such incisive commentary as “It sucked.”
It is hard not to wonder if anyone would bother remembering if we in the media didn’t remind them but some days that’s our role – to remind you of something you wouldn’t be too upset to find out you forgot.
Because how relevant to this day is the Gretzky trade? Well, to state the obvious, Gretzky hasn’t had a direct impact on Edmonton since 1988. He retired from the game in 1999 and, beyond a stint on the international scene and a very forgettable stint as a head coach, has pretty much stayed retired.
The pieces Edmonton acquired in the trade? Martin Gelinas played for the Oilers for four years before he was traded to Quebec. Jimmy Carson was traded to Detroit in 1990 after two years as an Oiler. Of the three draft picks Edmonton obtained in the trade, they traded one and used the others on such superstars as Nick Stajduhar and Martin Rucinsky.
So 25 years later, what is left that is worth remembering so religiously? Edmonton won its last Stanley Cup in 1990 – without Gretzky. The Edmonton Eskimos are playing poorly still and will go now eight years since their last Grey Cup appearance. The Oilers haven’t even made the playoffs since 2005/2006.
So the only real legacy of the trade is that … it happened. It was important at the time, maybe even for a couple of years afterwards. But how relevant is it to modern-day Edmonton? What purpose does remembering it actually serve?
Well, it gives Edmonton journalists something to do one day out of the year.
Peter Boer is a reporter at the Gazette and the author of The Edmonton Oilers: The Players, Games & Stories behind Hockey’s Legendary Team.