This is the 30th anniversary of the Wayne Gretzky trade.
There aren’t many sports transactions that are talked about in a sitting of the House of Commons, but this one was.
Hockey was thought of as Canada’s game. Only seven of the 21 NHL teams in the league were in Canada in 1988. Then, a national treasure headed south.
It was thought of as the start of a devastating decade in some respects. In 1995 the Nordiques moved to Colorado, and in 1996 the Jets moved to Phoenix. Many Canadians, in all walks of life, were bitter.
It turned out this trade helped expose our culture to a continent. You have to remember North America was a bigger place in some respects, before social media. Gretzky’s appearances on shows hosted by Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall helped shine a light on not just hockey, but our country through an ambassador that the league hasn’t seen since.
The trade played a role in making the NHL, and Canada’s game, better and more popular across North America. That’s easy to say now. That wasn’t our take in 1988.