My Nose, My Nose, My Kingdom for a Nose

Stan Bowman sure does love his big, dopey, fourth line players.  This time, he sent Aaron Johnson to Calgary on Wednesday evening in exchange for Kyle Greentree

Greentree scored 39 goals for the Quad City Mallards last year in the AHL and was also one of the first players re-assigned to the Flames’ minor league camp at this year’s training camp.  Upon completion of the trade, Greentree was immediately assigned to Rockford.

I’m not sure how this trade provides any kind of salary cap relief like some have speculated.  Johnson is playing under a one-year contract at $540,000.  With Burish already on Long Term Injured Reserve and Hossa able to be put on at any time, the Hawks potentially have nearly $6 million in cap space. 

No, this trade was made for a very boring reason.  Rockford depth.  The Ice Hogs completed their first game with household names like Danny Bois, Mark Cullen, and Derek Nesbitt playing big minutes for them.  So yeah, they needed a bit of help and the Hawks want to give themselves some insurance just in case more bad things keep happening to their players. 

Speaking of, Dave Bolland and Ben Eager were ruled out Thursday night’s tilt against the Red Wings due to injuries.  Or is it because of routine maintenance.  I’m confused. 

So Radek Smolenak will make his Blackhawks debut and Jordan Hendry will most likely skate on the 4th line wing in Detroit.  At least it’s still early in the year, so when the Hawks top three lines are playing the majority of the game, they should be pretty fresh.

What I really wanted to discuss, though, was the premiere of “Kings Ransom“, an ESPN documentary film that debuted on Wednesday Tuesday night.  It’s a look back at how the trade of Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings all went down.  The movie was directed by Peter Berg, the creator and director of the movie ‘Friday Night Lights’ and the subsequent show with the same name.

The editing in the movie is top notch, as is the archived footage.  Before I get into what I really liked though, let’s talk about what was wrong with the movie.

Gretzky and Berg hitting golf balls together was essentially boring and pointless.  I really thought it slowed down the whole film.  Everything they discuss was pretty much already talked about by the other key players in the trade (Bruce McNall, Glen Sather, Peter Pocklington). 

While it was kind of neat to see original footage of Wayne and Janet’s wedding and the reaction from the locals outside, I’m not sure it really fit into the story they were trying to tell.  With only an hour to get a lot of information out, this sequence chewed up a lot of time and didn’t really advance the story. 

There were also two enormous elephants in the room that weren’t covered or merely glossed over for whatever reason.

  1. Wayne Gretzky was sold for $15 million.  Former Oiler Owner Peter Pocklington was adamant he needed the money for his team.  It’s too bad no one bothered to ask what he really did with the money because with that kind of money, he easily could have re-signed Mark Messier and kept the core of the team together.  Instead, selling off Gretzky was the first brick to fall in his destruction of the team.  I’d really like to know what he did with all that money.
  2. The Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1990 without Gretzky!!!  They made such a point to show how devastating this trade was to the residents of Edmonton, but I guarantee you the same guy who was lighting his Oiler jersey on fire was the first guy in line for the parade when the Oilers brought home the Cup two years later.  It’s a testament to just how loaded that franchise was.  Here they shipped off the greatest player to ever live and two years later, they won it all again.  The film made it seem like the Oilers never recovered.  Only a sentence at the end of the film tells the viewer otherwise.

The film did have it’s bright spots. 

I loved how Gretzky’s exit interview from Edmonton was uncut and completely raw.  Nothing fancy, just the precise way it went down.  Going along with that same theme, the news coverage at the time was really fascinating to see.  The Canadian press covered the trade as though it was a funeral and the American media was curious about what they just stole from their neighbors to the north.

The footage of John Candy, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Kostner, Sly Stallone, Tom Hanks, Magic Johnson and Kurt Russell attending Kings games at the Forum is entertaining beyond words.

The contrast at the beginning of the movie with Gretzky skating around in warm-ups as a Oiler, and then at the end as a King is really quite masterful.  He’s skating the exact same way as he once did at the same venue, yet everything is completely different.

Its awkward now to watch Gretzky put on the Kings uniform for the first time; I can’t even imagine how weird it must have been at the time. 

To film a one-hour documentary on a topic that has endless amounts of information and viewpoints is really quite ambitious.  The impossibility of it all is frustrating and charming at the same time.  If you remember that era fondly, then the film will be a nice refresher course.  If you’re like me and have very little memory of the trade going down, then I highly recommend watching this at least one time.

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5 Responses to My Nose, My Nose, My Kingdom for a Nose

  1. Hawks1 says:

    In light of your mention of how good those teams really were, a great book to read is “The Game of Our Lives” by Peter Gzowski. It chronicles the 1980-81 season with the Oilers. This was before they started winning their cups, but very interesting to read about the contrast between Gretzky and Messier and their personalities early in their careers.

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to remember to check that one out once the weather turns.

  3. Bob in EP says:

    Good points. In all the fanfare surrounding Gretzky it is so often overlooked that Messier led the Oilers to a Cup in 1990 and the Rangers in 1994. Gretzky couldn’t deliver the same although he did fill the seats in LA for a few seasons.

  4. John says:

    You could also make the argument Gretzky was one McSorley illegal stick away from winning a Cup of his own in LA too.

  5. josh says:

    beautiful bryan bickell gets the call up, my kingdom for more alliteration.

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