Canada's national sports television networks are reaching deep into their archives as they compete to be the ultimate chroniclers of Wayne Gretzky history.
The 25 anniversary of Gretzky's trade from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings is on August 9, an occasion neither Sportnet nor TSN would let pass without the production of a five-part series (even if the Great One seems to have gone into hiding to avoid interviews on the subject). Sportsnet says the trade "shook the hockey world and entire nation to its core and changed hockey to its core." TSN also thinks the trade was a pretty big deal, saying it "captivated the nation."
"We set out to create a different look at the Gretzky trade after 25 years and uncover unique stories," said TSN executive producer Ken Volden. "Between the celebrity factor, rumours and emotion, the trade was bigger than sports and made for a great palette for our producers to draw some great stories."
Here's what the networks are planning.
Day one: TSN starts with a look at "Gretzky's children," by which it means current NHL players who benefited from hockey camps in non-traditional markets. Sportsnet tries to answer the question "How did the unthinkable happen?"
Day two: TSN looks at what happened to the NHL's salary structure thanks to the fat contract Gretzky scored in LA, while Sportsnet talks to Bruce McNall and Peter Pocklington, the two men who brokered the deal.
Day three: Sportsnet details the deal that didn't happen, which would have sent The Great One to Vancouver. TSN looks into the life of Jimmy Carson, a player who was sent to Edmonton in the deal.
Day four: "The award-winning DJ Steve Porter debuts his latest sports mash-up, which transforms old news footage about the Wayne Gretzky trade into a remix." Sporsnet counters by asking sprinter Donovan Bailey where he was when the trade went down (also Jim Cuddy, Alan Thicke, director Jerry Bruckheimer, Peter Mansbridge and Steve Nash).
Day five: Sportsnet will feature "a panel of Sportsnet personalities," while TSN "hits the streets of Edmonton" to make sure everything is okay.
Each network will air the segments on their evening sports shows starting Monday – Sportscentre for TSN at 6 p.m. (ET) and Connected on Sportsnet at 5 p.m. (ET).