Aug. 9, 1988 is a day that will live in infamy... in Canada, at least. Known across the frozen north as "The Trade," that was the fateful day that Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky was traded away from the Edmonton Oilers — a team he had led to four Stanley Cup victories in five seasons — to the Los Angeles Kings [source: Fitz-Gerald].
In a press conference announcing the trade, Gretzky looked visibly distraught about the trade. The conspiracy theories flowed like a river of Labatt Blue, but the leading contender was that the NHL forced the trade to breathe life back into U.S. hockey [source: Wenger and Cook]. Either that, or Gretzky's wife — actress Janet Jones of "Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach" — wanted to try her hand at Hollywood [source: Fitz-Gerald].
The more likely scenario is that the Oilers management knew they were going to lose Gretzky to free agency very soon, so they chose to cash in while they still could. In exchange for Gretzky and two other players, the Kings ponied up two players, three first-round draft picks, and $15 million paid directly to Peter Pocklington, the Oilers' owner [sources: Fitz-Gerald, Piercy].
Gretzky did, indeed, breathe life and energy into the L.A. Kings, but he would only take them to one Stanley Cup final in 1993, where the Americans lost to Montreal [source: Piercy].