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Detroit Red Wing: No. 99

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When Wayne Gretzky made his NHL debut much thought he would be an Edmonton Oiler forever.

Although that thought didn’t hold up there is one thing that remains unclear – what if Wayne Gretzky ended up with the one team he wanted to go to and that team would be the Detroit Red Wings, a team he was very close to joining?

Wayne Gretzky was almost traded to the Red Wings minutes before the trade to Los Angeles came through. Gretzky was given three teams – Detroit, Los Angeles, and the Philadelphia Flyers – that he would want to go to in a trade.

Gretzky was minutes away from wearing the winged wheel when he spoke to his father Walter, who informed Wayne that Detroit already had its superstar in Gordie Howe, who Gretzky idolized. Instead, he told Wayne that he should go to Los Angeles because the Kings didn’t have a superstar at the time and he could perhaps grow hockey in a market where hockey wasn’t the biggest thing and make Los Angeles his city.

The deal was done. Gretzky, Marty McSorely, and Mike Krushelnyski to the Los Angeles Kings. In return, the Edmonton Oilers received Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, 3 1ST round picks IN 1989, 1991, and 1993 plus $15 million cash.

If not for Walter Gretzky Wayne would most likely be a Red Wing. To a bigger scale if Wayne had not gone to Los Angeles the hockey world would be without the franchises in Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix/Arizona, Dallas, Florida, and Tampa Bay.

It is hard to imagine Gretzky, not in a Kings’ uniform. Although it eventually happened with him playing elsewhere, what if he would have not stepped foot in Los Angeles?

The trade to Los Angeles opened the door to so many hockey-related moves not related to the Kings.
What is your opinion on the trade that almost (but never) happened?

Featured Image: Sean Hartnett/CBS New York
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