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Peter Pocklington was born on November 18,1943, in London, Ontario.
Pocklington became a partner in the Edmonton Oilers with Nelson Skalbania in 1975. He acquired Skalbania's half in 1977. During their final year in the World Hockey Association, he bought Wayne Gretzky from the Indianapolis Racers and later signed him to a 21-year contract. After the team moved to the National Hockey League, the team enjoyed tremendous success, winning 5 Stanley Cups 1984-85-87-88-90 in a 7 year span.
After the Edmonton Oilers won their first Stanley Cup in 1983–84, Peter Pocklington included his father, Basil Pocklington, on the list of people and players who were to have their names engraved on the trophy. The NHL did not check the validity of the names on the list, and the Cup was engraved as usual. After the mistake was discovered, NHL executives, via the Hockey Hall of Fame, had the engraver strike out the name of the senior Pocklington by engraving a series of Xs over his name. Of the two dozen engraving errors that appear on the Stanley Cup all but one are spelling errors. Basil Pocklington is the only name that is covered. When the junior Pocklington was confronted with the issue, he protested that it was the engraver's fault, not his, that the engraver had mixed up the people who were actually technical members of the team (Basil was not one of them) with a list of individuals who were to receive miniature replica Cups (Basil was one of them). After this error, the NHL and Hockey Hall of Fame adopted policies to confirm the roster and the relation of the people on the engraving list to the championship team.
On August 9, 1988, Pocklington shocked hockey fans by trading Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million cash, and the Kings' first-round draft picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993. One member of the Canadian House of Commons demanded the government block the trade, another man burned Pocklington in effigy, and Gretzky's bride, actress Janet Jones, was branded hockey's Yoko Ono.
There is debate as to whether Gretzky "jumped" or was "pushed." A book by former Kings owner Bruce McNall quotes Pocklington as saying Gretzky had become impossible to deal with since he began dating Jones, who let it be known that she was not going to live in Edmonton after they got married. Pocklington claims he has had only nice things to say about the couple, yet admitted the trade was a business decision that he would not hesitate to make again.
Sale of the OilersEdit
By the mid-1990s, the Edmonton Oilers were a lackluster team with a dwindling fan support and financial hardships who were unable to afford or retain top players. Pocklington threatened to move the team to the States several times if season ticket sales remained low. Pocklington did not endear himself to fans, as he paid himself around $2 million annually in management fees out of the Oilers' funds.
Meanwhile, Pocklington became bankrupt, owing millions of dollars to Alberta Treasury Branches (ATB). ATB forced Pocklington to sell the Oilers in 1998. Businessman Leslie Alexander almost bought the team, planning to move it to Houston, but at the deadline the club was purchased by the Edmonton Investors Group consortium which kept the team in Edmonton.
|Edmonton Oilers owners|
|Bill Hunter • Nelson Skalbania • Peter Pocklington • Edmonton Investors Group • Daryl Katz|