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History

Historic storm produced history for Devils in '87

Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 9:00 AM / History

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

The game between the Calgary Flames and the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 22, 1987 wasn't expected to be a historic affair. But close to two feet of snow descending on the tri-state area turned it into one of the most unusual evenings in the history of the National Hockey League.

The Devils expected 11,247 fans -- the number of tickets sold -- for the game. But with horrible weather causing severe traffic congestion, only 334 fans made it to the arena, which is believed to be the lowest-attended game in modern NHL history.

For players and fans in attendance at that 7-5 Devils win, it inspired a unique club -- the Devils formed the 334 Club to honor those diehards -- as well as a bond that remains 27 years later.

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A look at the most unlikely seasons in NHL history

Sunday, 09.01.2013 / 9:00 AM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Hockey players have a certain level of performance -- after a while, their numbers usually fall within an expected range. Every now and then, though, a player will have a season that's so unlike the rest of his career that it sticks out, largely because he's unable to come anywhere close to that level of production again.

Here's a look at some of the most unlikely single-season performances in NHL history:

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Eight of the unlikeliest performances in NHL history

Saturday, 08.31.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Hockey's greatest stars dominate the NHL record book with performances such as Wayne Gretzky's 92-goal season in 1981-82, Bobby Orr winning scoring titles as a defenseman and Martin Brodeur piling up 120 (and counting) shutouts. But the record book also is home to a number of players who weren't household names -- players whose brush with greatness was confined to a single night.

Here are some of the greatest one-night stands, so to speak, in NHL history:

Sam LoPresti

March 4, 1941

The native of Eveleth, Minn., lasted just two seasons and played all of 74 NHL games, but that was more than enough time to earn his line in the record book for most saves by a goaltender in a single game.

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Media had challenges covering Gretzky trade

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

When Wayne Gretzky was officially traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings on Aug. 9, 1988, the announcement required not one, but two of the biggest press conferences in the history of sports.

Each was broadcast across North America. The first, in Edmonton, featured a vulnerable Gretzky bidding a tearful farewell to the Oilers. The second, in Los Angeles, featured "The Great One" triumphantly coming to L.A. in a show of Hollywood glitz.

Had it happened today, it probably would have played out online in a matter of minutes. Instead, it took a lot longer.

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Gretzky trade to Los Angeles shocked hockey world

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's among the most vivid scenes in hockey history and it didn't even happen on the ice.

Wayne Gretzky dabbing at his tears with a tissue, slumped over a mass of microphones at Molson House, the historic brewery site in Edmonton. Moments earlier, Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington announced that the greatest player in hockey history was being traded to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Oilers handed Gretzky a prepared statement to read, but "The Great One" tossed it and instead spoke from his heart. The world was shocked, but the move had been years in the making.

Longtime Kings owner Jerry Buss repeatedly floated the idea of trading for Gretzky. But when 36-year-old businessman Bruce McNall purchased a 25 percent stake in the team in 1986, the Gretzky talk increased.

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Gretzky by the numbers before, after The Trade

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Wayne Gretzky put up offensive numbers the likes of which the NHL had never seen and hasn't since. A quarter-century after he was involved in the biggest trade in hockey history, a deal that sent him from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings, here's a look at some of the numbers Gretzky put together during his unparalleled career:

0 -- Goals scored by Gretzky in seven regular-season games at United Center in Chicago, the most games he played in any building without scoring a goal. He did have two goals there during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

1 -- Goals scored by Gretzky in 449 of his 1,487 NHL games. He scored two goals 129 times and had 50 games of three or more.

2 -- Points by Gretzky in six games at Corel Centre (now Scotiabank Place), his fewest at any arena in which he played more than twice. Gretzky had a pair of assists in his six road games against the Ottawa Senators.

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Gelinas, Carson were other pieces in Gretzky trade

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Less than two months removed from being selected seventh by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1988 NHL Draft, Martin Gelinas was working at a hockey camp near his hometown of Shawinigan, Quebec. The 18-year-old was hoping a strong summer training regimen would help him make a Kings team that was building around youth. Then someone told him the news that seemed impossible to believe.

"You just got traded for Wayne Gretzky."

The idea seemed so crazy Gelinas simply disregarded it and went back on the ice. Within a couple of hours, reporters had swarmed the arena and wanted to ask the young forward about being involved in the biggest trade in NHL history.

About 600 miles away in Michigan, Jimmy Carson was contending with a group of reporters knocking at the front door of his parents' house, where he was spending some time after scoring 55 goals in his second season in Los Angeles.

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Fifth Cup proved Oilers were greater than just Gretzky

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The dynasty was supposed to be dead on Aug. 9, 1988, when Wayne Gretzky went from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings in one of the biggest trades in the history of North American sports.

The Oilers, however, had other plans, resurrecting themselves 21 months later, winning the Stanley Cup for a fifth time, the first time without "The Great One" in the lineup.

Edmonton was no doubt still a contender without Gretzky, but it was hard to imagine the Oilers picking up the pieces in the manner they did.

Looking back on it 25 years later, Oilers defenseman Charlie Huddy said it shouldn't have been that surprising.

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25-for-25: Gretzky records that will live on

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Aug. 9, 1988, was a day that changed the face of the NHL forever.

Twenty-five years ago today, the League was rocked by a trade the likes of which it had never seen and may never see again. The Edmonton Oilers, winners of the Stanley Cup four times in five seasons and seemingly poised to dominate for years to come, traded Wayne Gretzky, the centerpiece of their dynasty and the greatest scorer in hockey, to the Los Angeles Kings for young players, draft picks and $15 million.

Gretzky had already turned the NHL record book inside-out while helping the Oilers terrorize goaltenders like no team before. The deal stunned Edmonton and the rest of Canada, which was still recovering from The Great One's marriage to American actress Janet Jones less than a month earlier.

Gretzky made the Kings an attraction in star-driven Los Angeles, leading the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Final in 1993 and filling the Great Western Forum. In all, he played 11 seasons after the trade before retiring in 1998-99 following three seasons with the New York Rangers. He left the NHL with more than 60 records.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the trade that resonates throughout the NHL a quarter of a century later, here's a look at 25 of Gretzky's records that may never be broken:

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Gretzky trade led to hockey boom in California

Friday, 08.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / History

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It was the biggest blockbuster trade in sports history. The best player ever to compete in his sport dealt while still in his prime to a region with a brief and unremarkable history with the game.

The trade of Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers on Aug. 9, 1988 made headlines and jump-started the Los Angeles Kings franchise. But its true legacy is still being felt 25 years later.

California has established itself as a hockey hotbed hitting its stride. That never would have happened without the arrival of Gretzky.

"For him to come to Los Angeles was a head-turner. He was going to Hollywood, to the second- or third-largest city in North America. It was absolutely catalytic," USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean told NHL.com. "The fact of the matter is his presence had such an impact on the still young and incipient amateur hockey community in Southern California. All of a sudden, the greatest of great ones is right there in the backyard. He's on television in homes in Southern California and the whole country."

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Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning