Peter Pocklington

From Academic Kids

Peter Pocklington (b. November 18, 1921) is a Canadian business owner who has dabbled in politics. While he made his fortune in the meat packing industry, he is best known as the owner of the Edmonton Oilers and, as such, brought Wayne Gretzky to the team leading to the winning of five Stanley Cups. On August 9, 1988, Pocklington shocked 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. "The Trade," as it is came to be known, so upset Canadians one lawmaker demanded the government block it, a mob burned Pocklington in effigy, and Gretzky's new 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, especially since he began dating Janet, who let it be known that she was not going to live in Edmonton after they got married. Pocklington claims he's had only nice things to say about the couple, yet admitted The Trade was business decision he wouldn't hesitate to make again. Still, "Peter Puck" is widely despised throughout Canada to this day.

Peter is also well known for his involvement in other sports. He was long time owner of the Pacific Coast Leagues Edmonton Trappers. He also owned soccer teams such as the Edmonton Drillers in the North American Soccer League, Edmonton Brickmen of the Canadian Soccer League, and a later reincarnation of the Drillers in the National Professional Soccer League. In a sense which might be a credit to him, none of these teams remained in Edmonton long-term after his departure from ownership.

Pocklington has also been a controversial business owner moving to bust unions and reduce the wages of his employees in the meat packing industry. The most infamous incident involving Pocklington took place during a 1986 strike at Gainers Foods in Edmonton where striking workers attacked police officers who were attempting to protect buses carrying replacement workers. Pocklington's use of replacement workers marked the beginning of his remarkable unpopularity in Alberta, especially with organized labour. Although the strike was eventually settled, Gainers never recovered and was eventually placed in receivership.

Pocklington ran as a candidate at the 1983 Progressive Conservative leadership convention finishing sixth. His main policy proposal was the replacement of progressive income tax with a flat tax.


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