From the Vault: "Gretzky accuses Hawerchuk of deliberately injuring him" - 4/28/1987

From the Ottawa Citizen: "WINNIPEG - Edmonton Oiler centre Wayne Gretzky suffered a slight concussion and an egg-sized lump on the left side of his head when he was slammed to the ice by the Winnipeg Jets' Dale Hawerchuk during an NHL playoff game Monday, said club physician Dr. Gordon Cameron.

The two players collided in the Edmonton zone with about six minutes gone in the third period. As they fell to the ice Gretzky's helmet came off and his head struck the ice.

In an ugly incident shown on national television, a Winnipeg crowd of 14,460 cheered wildly as Gretzky, the NHL record holder in most offensive categories, lay stunned. The cheers and catcalls continued as he was helped to the dressing room. He did not return to the game.

Gretzky accused Hawerchuk of deliberately trying to injury [sic] him...

Edmonton defenceman Kevin Lowe said the crowd's reaction is something the Oilers have become accustom [sic] to.

" It happens even worse in the States, " he said, slowly shaking his head. " We're used to it. I don't think the people really hope he's injured, but when a guy has achieved what he has, and has gone to the heights he has, I think they react in an adverse way. ""

Two things I need to stress here:

1) The attendance is 14460 - capacity was probably 15567. Against the best team in the league. Winnipeg did not start selling out in the playoffs until the 1990 season.

2) The crowd "cheered wildly" because Gretzky was injured. That's right, and it was worse than anything in the US. Anybody who was a Jets fan back then will remember that Winnipeg's Smythe Division opponents - Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Los Angeles - were the objects of sheer hatred. Wayne Gretzky may have been the greatest hockey player in the world, but in Manitoba, he was a whiny crybaby primadonna who couldn't take a hit.


When we get back to that state - booing the Sedins lustily every time they touch the puck instead of wearing their adopted Canucks jerseys - then the new Winnipeg Jets will have truly worked their way into everyone's hearts.

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