Wayne Gretzky is Traded to the St. Louis Blues
On February 27, 1996, Gretzky joined the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, and two draft picks.
He partially orchestrated the trade after reports that he was unhappy in Los Angeles surfaced. At the time of the trade, the Blues and New York Rangers emerged as front-runners, but the Blues met his salary demands. Gretzky was immediately named the team's captain. He scored 37 points in 31 games for the team in the regular season and the playoffs, and the Blues came within one game of the Conference Finals. However, the chemistry that everyone expected with winger Brett Hull never developed, and coach Mike Keenan publicly criticized him. Gretzky rejected a three-year deal worth $15 million with the Blues, and on July 22, he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent, rejoining longtime Oilers teammate Mark Messier for a two-year $8 million (plus incentives) contract.
Traded to the Blues
Gretzky continued breaking records and winning awards in the 1990s. Late in the 1993–94 season he broke another Howe record of 801 career goals, accomplishing this in 650 fewer games than Howe played. Gretzky began to get frustrated with the unsuccessful attempts of the Kings, and he wanted to be traded. Gretzky was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the 1995–96 season.
So typical of Keenan's misfortunes. He trades for the greatest hockey player history has ever known ... and it comes around to bite him on the can.
Within a month of acquiring Gretzky, Keenan traded for old Edmonton stars Glenn Anderson, Charlie Huddy and Craig MacTavish.
But Keenan so freaked out The Great One that he opted not to re-sign in the offseason and bolted to the Rangers after only 31 games, including a short trip to the second round of the playoffs. Huddy and Anderson also didn't return the next year and MacTavish played a limited role in 50 games.
St. Lousians couldn't believe that somehow Gretzky slipped through their fingers and Keenan remained ... although not for long; he was fired just short of the midpoint of the next season with the club still owing him some $6 million.