Oh, Canada wondered, how could the Edmonton Oilers trade Wayne Gretzky? Why not just send the Mounted Police, too?
"Wayne Gretzky is a national symbol like the beaver . . ., " Democratic Party House leader Nelson Riis said at the capital in Ottawa. "How can we allow the sale of our national symbols? The Edmonton Oilers without Wayne Gretzky is like apple pie without ice cream, like winter without snow, like the `Wheel of Fortune' without Vanna White - it's quite simply unthinkable."Unthinkable but true, after Tuesday's blockbuster trade that sent Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. Immediately afterward, fan reaction came down with the subtlety of an avalanche. Callers to one radio talk show compared Janet Jones, Gretzky's wife who is a Los Angeles-based actress, to Yoko Ono. Ono has been blamed for contributing to the demise of the Beatles after she married John Lennon. Now Jones has done to Edmonton what the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and other National Hockey League teams could not.
Break up the Oilers.
Around the league, however, reaction was much more sensible - and positive.
Some of the reviews from NHL general managers on one of the biggest trades in league history:
Bobby Clarke of the Philadelphia Flyers: "A player like Gretzky can sell hockey (in Los Angeles). On top of all his playing ability, he is very classy and very bright."
Bob Pulford of the Chicago Blackhawks, who coached the Kings for five years during their most successful era, the mid-1970s: "Certainly, he will be very visible in the city of Los Angeles. There is no doubt that the sport of hockey will be better off there."
Cliff Fletcher of the Calgary Flames: "The King franchise has struggled for its due recognition and credit for the 21 years of its existence. It now has it."
Harry Sinden, whose Boston Bruins lost to Gretzky and the Oilers in the 1988 Stanley Cup final: "It brings Edmonton a little closer to the rest of us from the top and L.A. a little closer to the rest of us from the other end."