McNall had Gretzky on his side

Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall at newser in Sheraton Plaza Hotel. (QMI Agency/Paul Wodehouse)

Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall at newser in Sheraton Plaza Hotel. (QMI Agency/Paul Wodehouse)

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:10 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - He was in the dressing room and the stress of the situation -- the weight of a Game 7, right in the Centre of the Hockey Universe, in Toronto -- was heavy on Bruce McNall.

Probably, too, the perilous state of the Los Angeles Kings finances, which would come to light later.

For that moment, though, the chance of winning Game 7 of the 1993 Western Conference final and having the Kings advance to the Stanley Cup final for the first time had the Kings owner fretting.

As it turned out, he needn't have worried.

McNall had Wayne Gretzky, a motivated Gretzky on his side.

Gretzky was steaming after Bob McKenzie, then a Toronto Star hockey reporter, wrote earlier in the series it looked like Gretzky was skating with a piano on his back. Gretzky went out and scored the overtime winner in Game 6 to set up Game 7.

"I was nervous as crazy," McNall said the other day. "Gretzky came over to me and said, 'Bruce, settle down. Relax, I've got this, relax.' It was like Babe Ruth calling his home run."

Gretzky went out and had a hat trick and an assist in the Kings' 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs and McNall's team was off to its first final.

Now the Kings stand on the cusp of their second and McNall, now a fan, is enjoying the ride.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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