After all these years, there is concrete proof of the true, lasting legacy of the Wayne Gretzky trade to the Los Angeles Kings.

There have been signs along the way, but many of us tried to downplay them, lamely attributing them to the heat of the moment, or a prevailing wind of phraseology, which rarely hangs around long enough to enter the lexicon.

Apparently not in this case.

While many have credited, and blamed, the August 1988 Gretzky trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles as the catalyst for unprecedented NHL expansion into the southern reaches of the United States, the true fallout from that paradigm shifting transaction fully revealed its colours today.

Friday, February 18th, 2011.  Over 22 years after that fateful day.

For whatever reason, there were a number of trades in the NHL today, a full ten days before the Trade Deadline.

The hockey media scrambled to get reporters to press conferences, and to book guests for on-air appearances.  TSN briefly considered launching 24-hour Trade Centre coverage ten days early.

There was the usual litany of insiders, experts, and players making their way to the airport, all commenting on today’s action.

One phrase that kept being repeated, like a Holy Hockey Mantra, was “If Gretzky Can Be Traded, Then Anyone Can Be Traded”.

It’s the “It Is What It Is” of the hockey world.  Just-add-water, instantaneous wisdom dished out by those who haven’t been afforded time to properly analyze the moves they’re now on the air analyzing.

Not to suggest the Mantra isn’t true, for it most certainly is, but within minutes of a particular discussion about today’s transactions, one could set their watch by when The Mantra would be uttered.

And it was.  Over and over again.  And surely will be again tonight, when the talking heads get their crack at today’s events.

After 22 years, we understand.  We get it.  Time for a fresh new mantra to chant.

And to think after all this time, I have yet another reason to despise Pocklington.

- Mick Kern

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