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Profiling 10 Legends of the NHL

Wayne Gretzky Image

Wayne Gretzky

DOB: January 26, 1961
Birthplace: Brantford, ON
Seasons Played: 19
Position: Center
Hall of Fame induction: 1999
 
 

#99--- Wayne Gretzky ---#99
  • At three years old Wayne Gretzky was skating on the backyard rink built by his dad Walter. By the age of six, he was playing in the Novice A division against 10 year old kids.
  • Gretzkys rookie season was a tough one as he only scored a single goal, by his second season he had learned a thing or two and managed to pot 27 goals. Fast forward to his fifth season at the age of 10 when he netted an amazing 378 goals and 120 assists through 85 games.
  • By the age 13 he had already past the 1000 goal mark and a London Newspaper had dubbed him "The great Gretzky".
  • At 16, The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds drafted Gretzky to play in the OHA. Wayne wanted to wear the number 9 in tribute to Gordie Howe but unfortunately a teammate was already wearing it. That's when the coach suggested doubling it to number 99, and from then on #99 made history.
  • In Gretzky's debut OHA season, Wayne set Junior A records for most goals, assists and points in a season by a rookie (70-112-182) and took home several awards. His teammates started calling him "Ink" because of all the articles written about him in MacLeans magazine, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times.
  • When Gretzky was 17 he signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA (the NHL did not allow the signing of players under the age of 18). Unfortunately for the Racers, they were suffering financial difficulties and were forced to trade Gretzky to the Edmonton Oilers. On his 18th birthday, he received a $10 million, 3 year contract offer with the Oilers.
  • The WHA folded in 1979 and Edmonton Oilers became part of the NHL. In his first season in the NHL (Wayne was not considered a rookie because of his time spent in the WHA) Gretzky got off to a slow start-hindered by tonsillitis-but still managed to score 51 goals that season, becoming the youngest player in the NHL to score 50 goals. He also won the Hart Trophy (his first of eight in a row) tying Marcel Dionne with 137 points.
  • In his second NHL season, Gretzky won the Art Ross Trophy (the first of seven consecutive seasons) with a single season scoring record of 164 points, breaking both the record set by Bobby Orr for assists and by Phil Esposito for goals in a single season.
  • In season three, Gretzky destroyed one of the games most cherished records-50 goals in 50 games- set first by Maurice "Rocket" Richard in 1944-45 then tied by Mike Bossy in the 1980-81 season. It only took Gretzky 39 games to hit the 50 goal mark and he never slowed down there. He went on to break Espositos mark for most goals in a season (76) with a record 92 goals, 120 assists and 212 points in 80 games.
  • Gretzky continued the next few seasons to break his own assists record three more times (125, 135, 163) and his record points total scoring 215.
  • Within only 4 seasons of the Oilers joining the NHL, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr and a cast of other young skilled Oilers were led by captain Gretzky to the Stanley Cup finals. They lost in the finals to the current dynasty team of the day New York Islanders, but they would be back the next season to start their own dynasty as the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup the next four out of five seasons.
  • In 1988, Wayne married american actress/model Janet Jones. The wedding was dubbed Canada's Royal Wedding and was attended by 700 guests including the likes of Gordie Howe and Soviet Union goaltending great Vladislav Tretiak. (see video...)
  • Aug 9, 1988 the hockey world was rocked as the news broke that Wayne Gretzky, along with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski had been traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million cash and the Kings first round draft picks for 1989, 1991 and 1993. At that point in time, Gretzky was considered unattainable and players of his caliber simply weren't traded. However the Oilers hit financial hard times, the deal was made and the face of hockey changed.
  • With the arrival of Gretzky in Los Angeles, there became a new sense of excitement for the game of hockey. Ticket sales doubled, Kings merchandising sky rocketed and most importantly people in LA were talking hockey. Gretzky continued to be the best player in the game with the Kings, but without his supporting cast from Edmonton "the Great One's" numbers weren't as high as earlier in his career.
  • Gretzky played in LA for nearly 8 seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, and along the way dabbled in various business ventures with Kings Owner Bruce McNall. For a stint, Gretzky, McNall and Canadian comedian John Candy became co-owners of the Canadian Football League's (CFL) Toronto Argonauts.
  • On February 27, 1996 Gretzky was traded to the St Louis Blues at Wayne's request. His stay with the Blues would be a short one, signing with the New York Rangers on July 21,1996 becoming re-united with former Oilers teammate Mark Messier.
  • Gretzky's last game played in Canada was with the Rangers against Ottawa Senators on April 15th, 1999. The night belonged to "The Great One" as he was awarded the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stars. The words of both Oh Canada and the Star Spangled Banner were modified to acknowledge the impact he had made on the game.
  • In 2002, under Gretzky's leadership Team Canada won the gold medal in the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter games ending a 50 year gold medal drought. He served as executive Director of Team Canada for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, with the team again bring home gold.
  • In 2003, Gretzky took the ice one last time to celebrate the Edmonton Oilers 25th anniversary as an NHL team. The night featured two games, the Edmonton Oilers alumni playing against the Montreal Canadiens alumni in what was known as the Heritage classic, and then the current NHL teams playing in the first NHL game was played outdoors, at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
  • Gretzky is the only player to reach 200 points in a season. He did it five times between 1981 and 1986.
  • Gretzky has scored the magical 50 goals in 50 or less games three times in his career, more than any other player. Brett Hull has done it twice.
  • In 1989 he broke Gordie Howe's record most most total points in a career. It took Gordie 26 years to get 1850 points, it took Wayne only 10.
  • Only two other players managed to record 100 assists or more in a season, Mario Lemieux did it once with 114, Orr did it with 102. Gretzky recorded 100 assists or more 11 times consecutively. He holds the top 8 spots for total assists in a season.
  • By the time he left Edmonton, he held or shared 49 NHL records, which itself is a record.
  • Going into the 2006-07 campaign, Gretzky signed a 5 year contract to remain coach for the Phoenix Coyotes.

wayne gretzky image

 

NHL Teams

Edmonton Oilers
Los Angeles Kings
St Louis Blues
New York Rangers

Wayne Gretzky Career Stats

(regular season)
Games Goals Assists Points
1417 885 1910 2795
(playoffs)
Games Goals Assists Points
208 122 260 382

Wayne Gretxky holding Stanley Cup

Trophy Collection

9 Hart Trophies
10 Art Ross
2 Conn Smythe
4 Lady Byng
4 Stanley Cup rings
3 Canada Cup tournament titles