How the Wayne Gretzky Trade Rocked My World 25 Years Ago

August 8th, 2013 by Lyle Fitzsimmons Leave a reply »

1988 was a great year to be a hockey fan.

Or, more specifically, an Edmonton Oilers hockey fan.

I was 19 years old and had watched every second of every Oilers playoff game in the previous six years, during which my team reached five Stanley Cup Finals and hoisted the chalice four times.

And while that would have done little to distinguish me from the 580,000 or so folks who were living in the northern Alberta outpost in those days, it was a pretty defining stamp in my hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y.—which, when it came to the NHL, put me smack dab in the middle of Sabres country.

But lest you think I was just an obnoxious college-age front-runner, think again.

I hopped on the Oilers bandwagon well before age 10, while pouring religiously through a 1977-78 Hockey News preseason magazine—which allocated some space at the back of the bus for the lingering franchises still toiling in the “Rebel League,” the World Hockey Association.

Being a rebellious sort even then, the inclusion of the upstart league and its unfamiliar cities and players appealed to my ...

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