This date in National Hockey League history has had a little bit of everything over the years. The greatest player to ever lace up a pair of skates was traded. There was an Entry Draft loaded with Hall of Fame talent and one of the top goal scorers of all-time was born.
Gretzky Goes Hollywood
The biggest trade in NHL history occurred on Aug. 9, 1988. The greatest goal scorer in the history of the game, Wayne Gretzky, was traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. Gretzky was sent to Los Angeles, with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas and three first-round draft picks. The Kings also sent $15 million to the Oilers to complete the deal.
Gretzky had been with the Oilers since they entered the NHL in 1979. In his nine seasons in Edmonton, he scored 583 goals and 1,669 points in 696 regular-season games. He played in 120 postseason games, scoring 81 goals and 252 points. He was the cornerstone of a championship dynasty that won four Stanley Cups in five seasons.
There is very little doubt that the Kings were the big winners of this trade, even though the Oilers won another Stanley Cup in 1990. Not only did Gretzky instantly make the team better on the ice, but he also made them a huge box office draw.
Gretzky won the Hart Trophy, for being the league’s most valuable player, in his first season with the Kings by scoring 54 goals and 168 points. He won the Art Ross Trophy, given to the NHL’s top scorer, with 142 points in 1989-90 and 163 points in 1990-91,
Injuries limited Gretzky to just 45 games during the 1992-93 season, but he still scored 16 goals and 65 points. He had a huge postseason with 15 goals and 40 points in 24 games, leading the Kings to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final, which they lost in five games to the Montreal Canadiens.
Gretzky remained with the Kings until he is traded to the St. Louis Blues at the 1996 trade deadline. He scored 246 goals and 918 points in 539 games in Los Angeles. He added a third Art Ross Trophy with 130 points in 1993-94. He also won three Lady Bing Trophies for being the most gentlemanly player in the league.
It is virtually impossible to get full value in return for a player like Gretzky, but the Oilers didn’t come close in this trade. Carson scored 49 goals and 100 points in his first season with the Oilers before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings during the 1989-90 season. Gelinas spent five seasons in Edmonton, scoring 60 goals and 100 points.
The three first-round drafts picks didn’t exactly pan out. The 1989 pick was traded to the New Jersey Devils. Martin Rucinsky was drafted in 1991, who played in just two NHL games for the Oilers. The 1993 pick was used on Nick Stajduhar, who never made it to the NHL.
Ramage Goes Number One
The 21 teams of the NHL gathered in Montreal, on Aug. 9, 1979, for the annual Entry Draft. Over the course of the six-round draft, 126 players were selected. The first player taken was defenseman Rob Ramage by the Colorado Rockies. He went to play in 1,044 NHL games, including 234 with the Rockies over three seasons. He was traded to the Blues in 1982 for a first-round draft pick.
The first round featured plenty of players who went on to major success in the league. Those picks included Mike Foligno (3rd, Red Wings), Mike Gartner (4th, Washington Capitals), Rick Vaive (5th, Vancouver Canucks), Ray Bourque (8th, Boston Bruins), Mike Ramsey (11th, Buffalo Sabres), Brian Propp (14th, Philadelphia Flyers), Brad McCrimmon (15th, Bruins), Michel Goulet (20th, Quebec Nordiques), Kevin Lowe (21st, Oilers).
The Oilers laid the foundation or their Stanley Cup dynasty in this loaded draft. After selecting Lowe in the first round, they took Mark Messier in the third round (48th overall) and Glenn Anderson in the fourth (69th overall). All three players won five championships with the Oilers and are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Others notable picks from the 1979 Entry Draft include Lindy Ruff (32nd, Sabres), Mats Naslund (37th, Canadiens), Dave Christian (40th, Winnipeg Jets), Dale Hunter (41st, Nordiques), Neal Broten (42nd), Guy Carbonneau (44th, Canadiens), John Ogrodnick (66th, Red Wings), Anton Stastny (83rd, Nordiques), Dirk Graham (89th, Canucks) and Thomas Steen (103rd, Jets).
Odds & Ends
The Red Wings signed future Hall of Fame defenseman Brad Park on Aug. 9, 1983. Park played in all 80 games for Detroit during the 1983-84 season, scoring five goals and adding 53 assists. He won the Bill Masterton Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. He scored 13 goals and 43 points in 67 games during the 1984-85 season, his 17th and final one in the NHL.
On Aug. 9, 1994, the New York Rangers named Colin Campbell as their new head coach. He replaced Mike Keenan, who had resigned to become the general manager and head coach of the Blues. He was the Rangers’ 10th head coach since 1985. The team made the playoffs in each of Campbell’s first three seasons behind the bench. He was fired 57 games into the 1997-98 season and replaced by John Muckler.
Exactly one year later, the Rangers singed forward Ray Ferraro, who spent the previous five seasons with the rival New York Islanders. Ferraro scored 25 goals and 54 points in his 65 games with the Rangers. He was part of a big deadline deal going to the Kings, along with Ian Laperriere, Mattias Norstrom, Nathan LaFayette and a fourth-round draft pick, for McSorley, Jari Kurri and Shane Churla.
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim named Pierre Page as their new head coach on Aug. 9, 1997. He was the second head coach in franchise history, replacing Ron Wilson, who was fired at the conclusion of the 1996-97 season. Page only lasted one season, going 26-43-13 in 1997-98. He was replaced by Craig Hartsburg, who was the sixth overall pick of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 22 NHL players were born on Aug. 9. The first was Frank Brophy in 1900, a goaltender who played 21 games for the Quebec Bulldogs during the 1919-20 season. The most recent was Carter Bancks, a forward who played in two games with the Calgary Flames in 2013, born on Aug. 9, 1989.
Brett Hull was born on Aug, 9, 1964, in Belleville, ON. He was originally drafted by the Flames in the sixth round (117th overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. He scored 27 goals and 51 points in 57 games for the Flames before he is dealt to the Blues, in 1988, with Steve Bozek for Ramage and Rick Wamsley.
Hull became a superstar and one of the league’s best offensive threats in St. Louis. In 744 games, he scored 527 goals and 936 points for the Blues over 11 seasons. He won the Lady Bing Trophy in 1990 and the Hart Trophy in 1991.
In 1998, Hull signed with the Dallas Stars where he scored the series-clinching goal in Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Final. He moved on to the Red Wings in 2001, where he won a second championship in his first season. He retired in 2005 after five games with the Phoenix Coyotes. He is fourth on the NHL’s all-time goal list with 741. In 2009, he joined his father, Bobby, in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
One of Hull’s former teammates, Rod Brind’Amour, who should join him in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day, was born on this date in 1970. He played in the most games (1,484) and had the most assists (732) than anyone with an Aug. 9 birthday.
He is proving to be a very head coach these days, as he has the Carolina Hurricanes into the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Other notable players born on this date include Andy Brickley (59), Jim Johnson (58) and Shane O’Brien (37).