Kings officials insist deal of Gretzky not in the works Superstar will go to Blues in big trade, reports say

January 14, 1996|By LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS

Although reports continue out of Toronto that Wayne Gretzky will be dealt to the St. Louis Blues, he remains in a silver-and-black uniform, and Los Angeles Kings officials remain steadfast in their denials of any impending deals.

The latest report, in yesterday's editions of the Toronto Sun, had Gretzky, 34, and defenseman Marty McSorley being sent to the Blues for centers Patrice Tardif and Roman Vopat, wings Craig Johnson and Dennis Chasse, defenseman Chris Pronger and draft choices.

"The story in the Toronto Sun is completely inaccurate and false," Kings spokesman Rick Minch said late Friday.

Earlier in the day, Kings general manager Sam McMaster continued to deny the trade reports in the strongest possible language.

When asked again how many teams he has discussed a trade of Gretzky, McMaster said, "zero, zero, zero.

"I don't lie. That's one thing about me, I may not be the smartest guy and I might be grumpy sometimes, but I never lie."

The Toronto Sun also reported that the team's new owners did not make McMaster privy to the deal with the Blues.

"Nothing could be farther from the truth," Minch said. "The new owners have complete faith in Sam as general manager, Rogie Vachon as president and Dave Taylor as assistant general manager and the entire hockey department, including the scouting staff."

One of the reports said the Blues would pay Gretzky $9 million annually in a two-year deal; another said the Blues have offered Gretzky minority ownership.

Fueling the trade talk are a steady stream of comments from St. Louis expressing interest in a deal. Blues president Jack Quinn has compared a Gretzky-Brett Hull combination to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

"If Wayne Gretzky is made available, then the St. Louis Blues are very interested in having him," Blues coach and general manager Mike Keenan said.

Gretzky's 827 goals, 1,743 assists and 2,570 points in his 16-plus seasons are all NHL records. He also holds playoff records with 110 goals, 236 assists and 346 points. Gretzky has a team-high 64 points this season, including 51 assists, in 44 games.

Helping keep the picture cloudy is Gretzky himself, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season. He never directly addressed the possibility of him being traded, only the rumors, at the team's skate Friday morning.

Gretzky has said he would like to finish his career with the Kings, but he also wants to play for a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and has asked the Kings for assurances that they will try to improve.

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