Wish the NHL Network's Gretzky Week was able to show that 1982 classic at the Aud when he broke Phil Esposito's record. Wonder if that tape even exists (I've heard that many old games were either lost or plain tossed out when the Aud was shuttered...ugh). Anyway, tonight at 7 they'll be showing another good one: Game Seven of the 1993 Campbell Conference finals in Toronto, when the Kings beat the Leafs, 5-4, as Gretzky netted the hat trick and ruined Canada's dream final between the Leafs and Canadiens. No one else has a hat trick in a Game Seven since.
The Gretzky trade in 1988 clearly pushed hockey into non-traditional markets and the Kings' run to the finals was another big moment in that quest. Since then, there's been a Stanley Cup championship in Tampa Bay, another in Carolina (ugh) and a third in Anaheim.
But the league's efforts in warm climes remain middling at best. San Jose has become a terrific hockey market and there's all kinds of youth programs in the Tampa area but will things ever get better in places like Miami, Phoenix or Nashville? No way Gary Bettman ever does it but I say a place like Winnipeg should still have a team. After all, they have a new arena now, the Jets were Teppo Numminen's first team and they created the whiteout effect that's gone to arenas all over in different colors! That's all gotta be worth something, right? Check out this campy 80s Winnipeg promo.