Wayne Gretzky broke almost every NHL record that could be broken, and his legacy will live on forever. Gretzky is known as The Great One, and there’s never been a more fitting nickname for anyone.
Gretzky is the undisputed GOAT of hockey, and if you played hockey in the 80s or 90s, your dream was, without a doubt, to play with Gretzky.
Gretzky made the game look so simple, and playing on the same line as him always meant you would record a whole lot of points and goals. But Tomas Sandstrom has to be one of few people in the world that ever wished not to play with The Great One.
Sandstrom is actually one of the few wingers to play in the same line as both Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, but when he was traded to the LA Kings, he hoped not to play with Gretzky.
“When me and Tony [Granato] got traded, on the flight to Vancouver, we both said, ‘We just hope we don’t get to play with Gretzky.’ Not at the beginning,” Sandstrom told NHL.com.
But why would he pass on the opportunity to play with the greatest? Well, according to Sandstrom, it had to do with two things. For one, fan-favorite Bernie Nicholls went the other way to the Rangers in the trade that sent him to LA. It would be a lot of pressure on the Swede, and playing with Gretzky wouldn’t help.
Sandstrom was also one of the toughest players in the league. Other players would complain about his cheap shots on the ice. The Winnipeg Sun once even compared him to Saddam Hussein, as he always did something bad on the ice.
Sandstrom was afraid he could’ve done something nasty against Gretzky.
“I was worried,” confesses the career agitator. “Just the way I played. I probably said some stupid things or did some stupid things to [Gretzky] when I played against him.”
“You know the way I played, I probably slashed him once in a while.”
But when they arrived, Gretzky sat them down and calmed them.
“He told us, ‘I know you guys are nervous about playing with me. But just play your game and I’ll adjust to you guys.’”
The trio of Sandstrom, Granato, and Gretzky was a huge success and is still considered one of the best in Kings’ history.