Nicholls: Gretzky Trade Made Hockey On The West Coast Possbile

Says Gretzky Trade Directly Affected NHL Expansion In The West

Damon Amendolara
June 29, 2018 - 1:19 pm
Wayne Gretzky

USA Today Images


Wayne Gretzky is without a doubt the greatest hockey player to ever live. In 1988, the Los Angeles Kings made one of the most remarkable trades in sports history when they acquired Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers.

Gretzky’s teammate in Los Angeles, Bernie Nicholls, joined the DA Show Friday to discuss Gretzky’s talent and the impact of his trade on the Kings and the league as a whole.

“Great players bring the best out of everybody and I was so fortunate to play with Wayne every day,” Nicholls said. “Being able to play with him every day, watch him play, what he brought to you and what he allowed you to do was really special.”

“With Wayne, you expect the unexpected. I tell people that you would be standing there with two guys on you and all of a sudden, the puck is on your stick and you think, how the hell did that happen.”

The three time NHL All-Star went on to discuss the dramatic rise in attention that Gretzky’s arrival caused in Los Angeles.

“There were many nights that we would have ten thousand fans in the stands and now you’re sold out every night. We were the place that people wanted to be. We had Hollywood movie stars at all our games, everyone wanted to come out and watch,” Nicholls said. “For me it was like playing in Canada, going back to Toronto, going to Montreal, the place is sold out every night. Everyone wanted a piece of the Kings and to be a part of that was obviously very exciting.”

In addition to sparking excitement in LA, Nicholls talked about the Gretzky trade directly affecting the emergence of expansion franchises across the west coast, namely the San Jose Kings, Anaheim Ducks and even the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

“I think he was the main reason that all of these other teams came in, Anaheim for sure, it was because of Wayne,” Nicholls said. “Wayne opened the ice to hockey in California, and everywhere…Even the new expansion team in Vegas, it all revolved around that trade with Wayne.