Wayne Gretzky calls the Kings’ Anze Kopitar the third-best player in the world

Here’s what Kings center Anze Kopitar said Thursday when he heard Wayne Gretzky said Wednesday that he was the third-best player in the world behind Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks:

“I’ll take any compliment from that guy. Even if he said I was the fifth in the rankings, I would have taken it. It’s obviously very nice to hear things about that. I’ve heard it for the first time right now. I didn’t really pay attention to anything after last night. It’s nice to hear it. Can’t really get caught up in that stuff.”

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Wayne Gretzky’s connection to Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau explained

Wayne Gretzky grew up idolized Bruce Boudreau while growing up in Ontario, Canada. After all, it was Boudreau’s records Gretzky began chasing while playing in the junior-level Ontario Hockey League. Boudreau’s NHL career was nothing like the Great One’s. In fact, Boudreau idolized Gretzky, and joked Monday he only attended a press conference to promote the Jan. 25 game between the Kings and the Ducks because he hoped to get Gretzky’s autograph.

In fact, it was only last season that Boudreau learned Gretzky knew anything about him. Boudreau was with the Ducks on a flight to Vancouver when he noticed Gretzky left him a voice mail message on his phone. Boudreau returned the call, learned Gretzky also would be in Vancouver and the two made plans for dinner. They’ve become friends since the meeting, a pair of Ontario kids all grown up.

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Wayne Gretzky talks about the upcoming Kings-Ducks game at Dodger Stadium

Wayne Gretzky didn’t need a great deal of prompting to talk about the Kings-Ducks game on Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium. He had plenty to say about playing outdoors and the about the growth of hockey in Southern California since his trade to the Kings from the Edmonton Oilers more than 25 years ago. Here’s some of what he had to say at an event Monday to promote the first NHL game outdoors:

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Wait … what? Why are they measuring Marty McSorley’s stick? Oh, noooooo

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Kings’ trade for Wayne Gretzky …

The only thing the Great One couldn’t do after the Kings acquired him from Edmonton was to bring the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles. He came close once, leading the Kings to the 1993 Final with a Game 7 for the ages in a Western Conference finals victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto. The Kings went on to win Game 1 of the Final over the Canadiens in Montreal. They led the Canadiens by a goal in the closing moments of Game 2 and it was possible to imagine the victory parade and the Cup in downtown L.A. in a few days.

Suddenly, there was a whistle and a the daydream turned into a nightmare for Kings fans. Kings defenseman Marty McSorley was caught playing with an illegal curve on his stick, a minor penalty. The Canadiens scored on the ensuing power play to send the game to overtime, where they won 3-2. Montreal then won Games 3 and 4 at the Forum and then clinched the Cup with a 4-1 win at the other Forum in Game 5.

It was the last Stanley Cup victory for a Canadian team and began the Curse of Marty McSorley for the Kings. Actually, the Kings put an end to the Curse with their Cup victory in 2012. Canadian fans are still waiting for another Cup, which should no doubt make Kings fans smile when they think back to what might have been in Game 2 on June 3, 1993.

 

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One Forum fan in 1988-89: ‘Why isn’t Gretzky starting? Is that coach crazy?’

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Kings’ trade for Wayne Gretzky …

Not everyone who showed up to see the Great One at the Forum during the 1988-89 season was hockey fan. Quite a few couldn’t tell the difference between the blue line and the red line, but that certainly didn’t dampen their enthusiasm for Gretzky’s arrival in a blockbuster deal that made the Kings the hottest ticket in Los Angeles.

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How Wayne Gretzky nearly got me killed one day while vacationing in Oregon

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Kings’ trade for Wayne Gretzky …

Twenty-five years ago, Aug. 9, 1988, I was on vacation on the Oregon Coast. I was probably running on the beach and about to jump in the ocean for a swim when the Kings’ trade for Wayne Gretzky was announced. The tears probably were rolling down Gretzky’s cheeks during his Edmonton press conference when I dived into the water. I was oblivious. I didn’t have a cell phone. No one I knew did. I didn’t know about the Internet. Email was  vague concept in 1988. I wasn’t glued to SportsCenter while on vacation.

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On Gretzky the Younger.

With the Kings and Penguins readying for the puck drop in Pittsburgh, a small note to pass along on Trevor Gretzky …

Wayne’s baseball-playing son, a first baseman for Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, will play Saturday in the fifth annual Southern California Invitational Showcase at Compton College. The event, held by the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau at the MLB Urban Youth Academy, will also feature Palm Desert High School third baseman/right fielder Ryan Garvey (son of Steve).

Several recent first-round draft picks have attended the event in its first five years. Trevor Gretzky, a senior, hit .341 with two home runs and 33 RBI as a junior for Oaks Christian.

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