This site doesn’t usually do book reviews and I don’t usually write them, but I felt I had to bring this to your attention.
I just finished reading I’d Trade Him Again – since renamed The Puck Talks Here – a biography of former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington that charts the story of Pocklington’s life and how Wayne Gretzky was traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988.
The book, written by Terry McConnell and J’lyn Nye, contains frequent terrific insight from Pocklington himself.
What makes it great?
Well, did you know that Gretzky twice nearly became a Toronto Maple Leaf?
In the first bizarre tale, it turns out that Pocklington and Leafs owner Harold Ballard were close to striking a deal in 1980 that would have literally swapped the two franchises. Pocklington and Gretzky would have suddenly been uprooted to Toronto and become the Maple Leafs, while Ballard and the old Leafs moved to Edmonton to assume the Oilers’ identity. Pocklington was a shrewd businessman and Ballard was in massive debt and in need of cash, so Pocklington agreed to throw in $50 million. That would have removed Ballard from debt and still kept his team in a rabid hockey market, while Pocklington would have cashed in on Gretzky’s fame in arguably the best hockey city in the world. Ballard only backed out of the transaction after bringing on Molson Brewery as an ownership partner for the Leafs.
The book is an incredibly detailed behind the scenes account of how Pocklington became the Oilers’ owner, how Edmonton acquired “The Great One,” the dynasty’s rise and fall, as well as Pocklington’s own eventual fall from grace.
And of course, Pocklington continuously insists that he has no regrets over trading Gretzky.
The book even has significant ties to the Rangers, as Pocklington’s long-time friend and former employee Glen Sather is heavily featured.
I urge you to give it a read.