Wayne Gretzky's "Mickey Mouse" insult turns 30
Wayne Gretzky was rarely outspoken during his playing days - but when he chirped, people remembered it.
Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of Gretzky's most famous barb, directed at the woeful New Jersey Devils. Gretzky, already tearing up the NHL at just 23 years of age, erupted for three goals and five assists to lead his Edmonton Oilers to a 13-4 drubbing of the Devils.
After the game, Gretzky - who recorded his first career eight-point performance in the rout - had this to say about a New Jersey franchise that dropped to 2-18-0 with the defeat:
Well, it’s time they got their act together. They’re ruining the whole league. They had better stop running a Mickey Mouse organization and put somebody on the ice.
[Courtesy Blog of Mike]
The comments sent shockwaves throughout a normally staid NHL. The Devils and their fans were particularly offended, with one-time New Jersey forward Aaron Broten saying years later:
I know the team was not happy with his comments, to be frank. I know there was a general feeling around the organization that they weren't happy with the comment, and that's being politically correct.
Despite Devils' fans greeting Gretzky with a predictable amount of ire in his next visit to the swamp Jan. 15, the Oilers still came away with a 5-4 victory behind three assists from The Great One. His comments did provide New Jersey with a much-needed attendance boost for the return - after drawing just over 9,000 fans against Quebec the previous game, more than 19,000 turned out to share their feelings with the greatest player of their generation.
The Oilers went on to capture five Stanley Cup titles in a seven-year span, while the Devils evolved into a perennial contender themselves - winning three championships between 1995 and 2003 while reaching the Finals on another occasion in that stretch.
[H/T to Copper & Blue]