On This Date in Sports February 27, 1996: Gretzky Blues Period

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Dedicated to YoungPageviews Blues Jacket.

Eight years after the earth-shattering trade sent him from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings, Wayne Gretzky is traded again. This time it is a trade deadline deal sending the Great One to the St. Louis Blues. Gretzky is named captain upon his arrival in St. Louis, and plays well down the stretch, with 21 points in 18 games. However, the Blues fall in the second round of the playoffs.

In eight seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, Wayne Gretzky continued to make history, becoming the NHL’s All-Time leader in assists, goals, and points. However, Gretzky was unable to take the Kings to the promised land, as they went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993 but made it no further. The Kings failed to make the playoffs in the next two seasons, as injuries became to take their toll on Wayne Gretzky.

The Kings were on their way of missing the playoffs again in 1996, as Wayne Gretzky was in the final year of an eight-year contract. As the trade deadline approached, the St. Louis Blues were looking to add more offense to go help Brett Hull, already assured of a playoff appearance, they were looking for that final piece to make a run at the Stanley Cup. As the trade deadline approached, Gretzky who was unhappy was put on the trading block. Both the Blues and New York Rangers were interested in landing #99, with hopes of re-signing him at the end of the season. The Blues would eventually win the bid for Wayne Gretzky, sending Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat and a pair of draft picks going to the Kings in return.

The Blues would name Wayne Gretzky as their captain upon his arrival in St. Louis, bumping Shayne Corson as he scored a goal in his first game with his new team on February 29th, a 2-2 tie against the Vancouver Canucks on the road. Gretzky would score eight goals with 13 assists in 18 games with the Blues, who finished fifth overall in the Western Conference with a record of 32-34-16. In the playoffs, the Blues would reach the second round, after knocking off the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games. They would then face the Detroit Red Wings, who had the best record in the NHL all season. While he only scored two goals in the Blues playoff run, Gretzky was quite the playmaker for St. Louis and had 14 assists in 13 games. However, the playoffs ended in heartbreak for the Blues, as Steve Yzerman won the series with a double-overtime goal in a 1-0 win in Game 7.

Despite solid play in St. Louis, Wayne Gretzky did not mesh well with Brett Hull and clashed with Coach Mike Keenan. When the time came to negotiate a new contract came, the Blues would lose out as Gretzky signed to play with the New York Rangers.