Wayne Gretzky discloses how KGB-escorted Russian players' visit to his home during Cold War times could have landed them in trouble

Wayne Gretzky discloses how KGB-escorted Russian playersvisit to his house
Wayne Gretzky discloses how KGB-escorted Russian playersvisit to his house

In a recent episode of the Spittin' Chiclets podcast, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky unveiled a hidden chapter from the Cold War era. He recounted a remarkable encounter with the Russian hockey team before the 1987 Canada Cup. Gretzky shared how he invited five prominent Soviet players, Alexei Kassatonov, Igor Larionov, Vladimir Krutov, Sergei Makarov, and their coach Viktor Tikhanov, to his parents' house for a BBQ.

In a bold move, Gretzky went even further, sneaking beers for the Russian players, who were prohibited from drinking by the strict KGB regulations. In Gretzky's words,

"He (Larionov) said, Wayne, can we go have dinner? And I said, listen, bring whoever you want. My parents live 20 minutes from here. Let's go to my house. And he goes, okay."

Gretzky continued,

"The big five - Kassatonov, Larionov, Krutov, Makarov, but Tikhanov has to come. And two KGB guys. I said, no problem. So I come to my house, right? And my mom did a barbecue in the backyard."
"And I took the guys down there and I had beers down there for them. And they all had a beer. They were so happy and so thrilled and so, like, thankful."

Amidst the tense atmosphere of the Cold War, Gretzky's hospitality towards the 'enemy' could have had profound repercussions. When asked if there would have been backlash, Gretzky said,

"No, not from us, but for them, it would have been not cool."

Wayne Gretzky's act of camaraderie, however, reflects the power of sports diplomacy in thawing icy relations, even behind closed doors. Ultimately, it was a unique instance of unity in the face of political discord, and Gretzky's ability to bridge gaps, both on and off the ice.

Wayne Gretzky discusses choice to become a trailblazer in Los Angeles

Wayne Gretzky opened up about the pivotal decision to join the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1988, a move that shocked fans and altered the course of NHL history. Gretzky shared a heartfelt conversation with his father, Walter Gretzky, who advised him to be a trailblazer and choose LA over Detroit.

"There's only one Gordie Howe in Detroit, and you should be something different, something unique," his father advised.

This paternal guidance became the driving force behind Gretzky's choice, impacting not only his legacy but also shaping the growth of hockey in non-traditional markets like Southern California.

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Edited by Debasish