From watching over four Stanley Cup wins to becoming the most hated man in Canada overnight. That’s a feat not easily accomplished but one Peter Pocklington laid claim to with a phone call on August 9, 1988. In a city where hockey-obsessed or fever-pitch are terms that don’t scratch the surface of how damn much Edmontonians care about hockey, Pocklington turned the nation’s most prized national treasure into an export, shipping Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings for $15 million cash, two players, and two draft picks. The fan outcry was immediate and fierce. Legions of Oilers supporters protested in the streets and burned their jerseys emblazoned with Gretzky’s name. And Pocklington – they burned him in effigy. The owner did himself no favors in the immediate aftermath of the trade, accusing Gretzky of faking tears in his heart-wrenching goodbye presser. For some insight into the anti-Pocklington vitriol, the first four minutes of Peter Berg’s fantastic documentary on the trade (aptly titled “King’s Ransom”) is worth a look.
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