August 9 NHL History
1964: Brett Hull, one of the greatest goal-scorers in NHL history, is born in Belleville, Ontario. The son of Hockey Hall of Fame member Bobby Hull is taken by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round (No. 117) of the 1984 NHL Draft, plays two seasons of college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, and is traded to the St. Louis Blues on March 7, 1988. Though he doesn’t have the speed or booming shot that made his father famous, the younger Hull have one of the quickest releases in hockey. He scores 41 goals in 1988-89, his first full season with the Blues, then leads the NHL with 72 goals in 1989-90, 86 in ’90-91 and 70 in ’91-92.
Hull signs as a free agent with the Dallas Stars on July 3, 1998; 11 months later, he scores the goal that gives the Stars the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Hull plays three seasons with the Stars, then joins the Detroit Red Wings in 2001 and helps them win the Cup in 2002. After playing five games for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005-06, he retires with 741 goals, fourth on the NHL’s all-time list, and is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
1988: Wayne Gretzky, the centerpiece of the Edmonton Oilers‘ dynasty, is traded to the Los Angeles Kings as part of the biggest trade in NHL history.
The trade comes less than three months after the record-setting center leads the Oilers to their fourth Stanley Cup championship in five seasons, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP for the second time. But Bruce McNall, the new owner of the Kings, offers Oilers owner Peter Pocklington $15 million, center Jimmy Carson, forward Martin Gelinas and three first-round draft picks for Gretzky; defenseman Marty McSorley and forward Mike Krushelnyski also go to Los Angeles.
The deal comes together while Gretzky and his new wife, actress Janet Jones, are spending part of the summer living in the Hollywood home of actor Alan Thicke.
After an emotional press conference in Edmonton, Gretzky flies to Los Angeles to meet the media. Longtime Kings broadcaster Bob Miller later calls it “obviously the biggest press conference the Kings have ever had.”
With Gretzky, the Kings become the must-see team in Los Angeles and reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their history in 1993. The Gretzky-fueled boom helps the growth of hockey in Southern California and other non-traditional markets. The Oilers win a fifth Cup in 1990 without Gretzky but are never the same.