The night I watched the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase with Gretzky

The date was June 17, 1994. Most people of a certain age remember that day well as it was the day of the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase.

It was also the day of the grand opening of the brand new rooftop patio at Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant in downtown Toronto.

Many people from the hockey world were invited. At the time I was the marketing manager of the Hockey Hall of Fame and I had known Wayne since he and my brother Craig had been teammates with the Edmonton Oilers. So I was lucky enough to be on the guest list that night.

Most of North America had been glued to their TV sets that day watching the O.J. drama unfold live. When we got to the party a local reporter, John Gallagher from City-TV news, had been there to do a live hit from the party. Following his hit he left us his monitor so we could continue to watch the O.J. drama unfold. That’s why it’s such a tiny TV.

You may recognize a number of people in the photo. Wayne and Mike Barnett, his then agent, to the right. Beside him is David Langford, who was then the sports editor of the Globe & Mail. Many people on Twitter thought David was Eddie Belfour. Brian Burke is beside me, former skier Karen Stemmle behind me. To the left of Wayne is Gus Badali, his former agent. Gord and Lisa Stellick are on the left in the foreground.

I didn’t even know this photo existed until a few years ago when Tom Bitove, Wayne’s partner at Gretzky’s Restaurant, found it in their archives.

One last funny chapter of the story happened in Las Vegas this past March. I was there for Wayne’s fantasy camp. One night we’re at the Bellagio bar with Wayne, Mike Barnett, and Cuba Gooding Jr. taking about Cuba’s role playing O.J. in the FX true crime series The People vs O.J. Simpson that had just come out. I pull out this picture and show them all. I asked Cuba if he thought O.J. was guilty. He said he’ll never answer that question as he wants people to draw their own conclusions.

Anyway, with the current documentary series on O.J. running on TV right now I thought it would be fun to send it out as a #TBT. A moment captured in time.

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