Edmonton

Alberta man builds ode to former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington with Lego

The larger-than-life story of Peter Pocklington, the infamous former owner of the Edmonton Oilers, is being recreated on the smallest of scales.

'It makes for great theatre,' says Lego builder

Peter Pocklington would become known as the man who traded away Wayne Gretzky. His time at the helm of the Edmonton Oilers is being recreated in Lego dioramas. (Joel Cadieux)

The larger-than-life story of Peter Pocklington, the infamous former owner of the Edmonton Oilers, is being recreated on the smallest of scales.

Joel Cadieux, a Red Deer salesman and father of four, is building a biopic about the maverick businessman out of Lego. He has created 100 scenes of Pocklington's time with the Oilers and is sharing a photograph of a new scene each day on social media. 

For Cadieux — an avid Oilers fan — creating the Lego dioramas is an art form and Pocklington's dramatic life as "Peter Puck" is the perfect inspiration. 

Pocklington's biography reads like "the Wild West," Cadieux said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"The deals that he made and the things that they did, you just can't do that anymore, so it makes for great theatre." 

Pocklington, a high school dropout, for a time was one of the richest men in Canada. Cutting his teeth in the steakhouse business, he made his fortune in auto sales before buying a stake in Edmonton's fledgling NHL team.

With Pocklington at the helm, the Oilers became one of the most dominant teams in the NHL with a legendary line-up.

He brought Wayne Gretzky to the team in the 1979. A decade later, he shocked fans by trading him to the Los Angeles Kings.

Outside of the hockey world, Pocklington has often been in the headlines. He was held ransom in his home, ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the federal conservative party and has had numerous brushes with the law.

Cadieux said he spent months researching Pocklington's life story, selecting his favourite moments and charting them scene by scene. 

And Pocklington — who lives in California — apparently approves. Cadieux said he got a call from the man himself a few weeks ago.

When Cadieux saw a Palm Springs area code appear on his caller ID, he thought it might be a wrong number. 

"I just about fell out of my chair,"  Cadieux recalled. 

"He just expressed that he was excited to see the project. We talked a little bit about life in Palm Springs and then he had to go. It was quite the conversation. " 

'An eccentric owner'

Four years ago, Cadieux and his four children constructed 100 intricate scenes tracking the life and times of Harold Ballard, the former owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

"Obviously, there's so much more to the story that you can't tell," Cadieux said. "You have to figure out what part of history you want to show."

The Ballard project took Cadieux four years to complete. Being cooped up in the house during the pandemic inspired him to tackle a new project.

When he asked who should be subject of his "second season," Pocklington was the decisive winner.

He hopes his followers will enjoy the work as much as he does.

"I can't draw or paint or do anything like that," he said. "But if you ask me to do something in Lego, for some reason, it comes natural.

"There's just something about the little Lego man that people love, and especially when you're doing something about an eccentric owner doing these crazy things. And it's all illustrated in Lego, people kind of get a kick out of that." 

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