Wayne Gretzky

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Missing image
Wayne Gretzky playing for the New York Rangers in 1997

Wayne Douglas Gretzky, OC (born January 26, 1961) is a former professional ice hockey player. Born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, he is known as "The Great One," and considered by many to be the best player of all time. Position: Centre.


Early Years

Taught by his father Walter, Gretzky was a classic prodigy. At 6, he was skating with 10 year-olds. At 10, he scored 378 goals in 85 games, and the first story on him was published in the Toronto Telegram (now the Toronto Sun). At 14, playing against 20 year-olds, he left Brantford to further his career. He also signed with his first agent.

He played one year in the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 16, with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. There he began wearing 99 on his jersey. He had wanted 9 — for his hero Gordie Howe — but it was already being worn by another teammate. At Coach Muzz MacPherson's suggestion, Gretzky tried and settled on 99. The next year, he signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association. Eight games into the season, his contract was bought by Peter Pocklington, owner of the Alberta Oilers aka Edmonton Oilers.

NHL career

Gretzky played on four different NHL teams in his 20-year career beginning in Edmonton and ending in New York.


After the 1978-79 season, four WHA teams, including the Alberta Oilers (who would become the Edmonton Oilers), joined the National Hockey League. The other three WHA teams were the Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers. In his first NHL season, 1979-80, Gretzky was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the League's Most Valuable Player (the first of eight in a row) and tied for the scoring lead with Marcel Dionne with 137 points (Dionne was awarded the Art Ross Memorial Trophy as the league's leading scorer because he had scored more goals, even though Gretzky played fewer games). Gretzky was not eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top NHL rookie, because of his previous year of professional experience. The rule, however, was changed a few years later. Teemu Selnne is a case in point of this rule change. He won rookie of the year with 76 goals even though he previously had professional experience.

In his second season, Gretzky won the Art Ross (the first of seven consecutive years) with a single-season record 164 points, and won his second straight Hart Trophy. The Oilers were a young, strong team featuring forwards Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri, defenseman Paul Coffey, goalie Grant Fuhr, and Gretzky as its captain. In 1983, they made it to the Stanley Cup finals, only to be swept by the three-time defending champion New York Islanders. The following season, the Oilers met the Islanders in the Finals again, this time winning their first of four Stanley Cups over the next five years.

In only Gretzky's second NHL season, he broke both Bobby Orr's record for assists in a season and Phil Esposito's record for points in a season. In 1981, Gretzky surpassed one of the game's most cherished records — 50 goals in 50 games — set by Maurice "Rocket" Richard during the 1944-45 season and tied by Mike Bossy during the 1980-81 season. On December 30, 1981, in Edmonton's 39th game, Gretzky scored his 50th goal of the season (and fifth of the game) into an empty net in the final seconds of a 7-5 win against Philadelphia.

On 24 February, 1982, Gretzky broke Esposito's record for most goals in a season (76), when he scored four goals to help beat the Buffalo Sabres, 6-3. He ended the 1981-1982 season with 92 goals and a record 212 points in 80 games.

Gretzky broke the season points record again in 1985-86 with 215 points and also set a season record with 163 assists.

"The Trade"

On August 9, 1988, in a move that drastically changed the dynamics of the NHL, Gretzky was traded with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski by the Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million cash and the Kings' first-round draft picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993. "The Trade," as it came to be known, so upset Canadians that one lawmaker demanded the government block it, and Pocklington was burned in effigy. Gretzky himself was considered a "traitor" by many Canadians for turning his back on his adopted hometown, his home province, and his home country. After "The Trade", Gretzky's personal popularity sank across Canada.

Gretzky's first season in Los Angeles saw a marked increase in attendance and fan interest in a city not previously known for following ice hockey. The Kings, who then played their home games at the Great Western Forum, boasted numerous sellouts on their way to reaching the 88-89 playoffs. Despite being heavy underdogs against his old squad, Gretzky led the new-look Kings on and off the ice to a shocking upset of the defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers, as Gretzky led his team back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series 4-3. Many credit Gretzky's arrival with putting Southern California on "the NHL map"; now California is home to three NHL franchises.

Gretzky's time with the Kings reached its peak when he led the team to its first Cup finals in 1993. After winning the first game of the series, however, the team lost the next four in a row to the Montreal Canadiens. The team began a long slide that continued despite numerous player and coaching moves and failed to even qualify for the playoffs again until 1998. Long before that, running out of time and looking for a team with which he could win again, Gretzky had been traded from the Kings at his request. On February 27, 1996 he joined the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, and draft picks. While he scored 37 points in 31 games for the team (regular season and playoffs), and they got within one overtime game of the Conference finals, he never clicked with the team or with sniper Brett Hull on the ice as well as many had expected. On July 21, he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent, rejoining Messier.

He ended his professional career with the Rangers, playing his final three seasons there and helping the team reach the conference finals in 1997. His last NHL game in Canada was on April 16, 1999, and his final game was a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 18. The national anthems in that game were adjusted to accomodate Gretzky's departure. "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee" was changed to "We're going to miss you Wayne Gretzky". The Star-Spangled Banner was changed from "the land of the free" to "the land of Wayne Gretzky". Gretzky was named as the first, second and third star of both April 16th and 19th games.

In 2003, Gretzky took to the ice one last time to help celebrate the Edmonton Oilers' 25th anniversary as an NHL team. The Heritage Classic, was the first NHL game to be played outdoors. Preceding the NHL game was an exhibition game that reunited Gretzky and many of the old-guard Oilers against a superstar Montreal Canadiens team. The game has subsequently been released on DVD.

Career Statistics

    Regular Season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1976-77 Peterborough Petes OHA 3 0 3 3 0 -- -- -- -- --
1977-78 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHA 64 70 112 182 14 -- -- -- -- --
1978-79 Indianapolis Racers WHA 8 3 3 6 0 -- -- -- -- --
1978-79 Edmonton Oilers WHA 72 43 61 104 19 13 10 10 20 2
1979-80 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 51 86 137 21 3 2 1 3 0
1980-81 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 55 109 164 28 9 7 14 21 4
1981-82 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 92 120 212 26 5 5 7 12 8
1982-83 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 71 125 196 59 16 12 26 38 4
1983-84 Edmonton Oilers NHL 74 87 118 205 39 19 13 22 35 12
1984-85 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 73 135 208 52 18 17 30 47 4
1985-86 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 52 163 215 46 10 8 11 19 2
1986-87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 62 121 183 28 21 5 29 34 6
1987-88 Edmonton Oilers NHL 64 40 109 149 24 19 12 31 43 16
1988-89 Los Angeles Kings NHL 78 54 114 168 26 11 5 17 22 0
1989-90 Los Angeles Kings NHL 73 40 102 142 42 7 3 7 10 0
1990-91 Los Angeles Kings NHL 78 41 122 163 16 12 4 11 15 2
1991-92 Los Angeles Kings NHL 74 31 90 121 34 6 2 5 7 2
1992-93 Los Angeles Kings NHL 45 16 49 65 6 24 15 25 40 4
1993-94 Los Angeles Kings NHL 81 38 92 130 20 -- -- -- -- --
1994-95 Los Angeles Kings NHL 48 11 37 48 6 -- -- -- -- --
1995-96 Los Angeles Kings NHL 62 15 66 81 32 -- -- -- -- --
1995-96 St. Louis Blues NHL 18 8 13 21 2 13 2 14 16 0
1996-97 New York Rangers NHL 82 25 72 97 28 15 10 10 20 2
1997-98 New York Rangers NHL 82 23 67 90 28 -- -- -- -- --
1998-99 New York Rangers NHL 70 9 53 62 14 -- -- -- -- --
20 Years Totals NHL 1487 894 1963 2857 596 208 122 260 382 68

NHL Records

Wayne Gretzky held or shared 61 NHL records upon his retirement on the 18th of April, 1999. He had 40 regular season records, 15 playoff records, and 6 all-star records.

Some of the more impressive regular season records include most goals in a season (92), most assists in a season (163), and most points in a season (215). He also holds the record for the fastest 50 goals in 50 games or less, which he did in only 39 games and the most goals in 50 games (61, which he did twice). In 1982-83, he had a 51 game point scoring streak that has been compared to Joe DiMaggio's streak in baseball. During Gretzky's point scoring streak, he had 61 goals and 92 assits for 153 points.

He had dominated the playoffs like he had dominated the regular season. His 47 points in 1985 and his 31 assists in 1988 are still records for a playoff year. He is the career playoff leader in goals (122), assists (260), points (382), hat tricks (10), and game winning goals (24). These playoff numbers appear to be untouchable.

His career regular season stats are equally as impressive. He has the record for most career regular season goals (894), assists (1,962), points (2,856), and hat tricks (50). The next closest player in total points is Mark Messier with 1887 points. That is almost a thousand points difference.

His total points including regular season and playoffs is an impressive 3,238.

For more information and a list of Gretzky's official and unofficial records go to Wayne Gretzky Records.

Amazing Stats and Facts

  • Gretzky is the youngest player to score 50 goals.
  • Marcel Dionne’s best single season point total in his career was 137 points. Gretzky matched that in his first year. In fact, Gretzky didn’t have fewer than 137 points in a season until over 10 years later in 1991-92 when he had 121.
  • He was not considered a rookie in his first year, but he still holds the record for most points (137) in a season by a first year player (second is Teemu Selnne with 132) and most points (8) and assists (7) in one game by a first year player.
  • Bobby Orr is one of the greatest players in NHL history. In Gretzky’s second season, he broke Orr’s record for most assists in one season (102) with 109. Gretzky did not have fewer than 102 assists until the 1991-92 season.
  • In his second season, he broke the NHL record for most points (152) held by super star Phil Esposito with 164. In doing do, he also became the first player to average more than two points a game in the modern NHL. Mario Lemieux is the only other player in the NHL to do that.
  • In his third season, Gretzky did what many thought was impossible. First, he scored 50 goals in 39 games. Next, he broke Esposito’s record for most goals in a season (76). Then, he hit the 200 point plateau. He finished the season setting new records with 212 points, 92 goals, and 120 assists.
  • After scoring 212 points the year before, he had what many people called a ‘disappointing’ season in 1982-83 with only 196 points. Even though he had a 'disappointing' season, he still set a new record for assists with 125.
  • Gretzky is the only player to reach 200 points in a season. He did it four times in 5 years between 1981-82 and 1985-86.
  • In 1983-84, Gretzky set a record with a 51 game point scoring streak. During that streak, he had 61 goals and 92 assists for 153 points. That is exactly three points a game. That is amazing considering that he had a separated shoulder for much of that streak. After that streak ended, he took 6 games off to rest his shoulder.
  • Gretzky has scored the magical 50 goals in 50 games or less three times in his career, more than anyone else. Brett Hull did it twice.
  • Considering that only one player besides Gretzky has ever averaged two points a game in a season, what he did in 1985-86 is truly amazing. He averaged over 2 assists a game that season. He had 163 assists in 80 games and still managed to score 52 goals.
  • In 1989, he broke Gordie Howe’s record for most points in a career. It took Howe 26 years to get 1850 points. It took Gretzky 10 years. Gretzky averaged over 180 points a season for those 10 years. His average was better than anyone else’s best (except for Mario Lemieux. Lemieux achieved over 180 points once in his career).
  • Only two players besides Gretzky have ever had 100 assists in an NHL season. Mario Lemieux did it once with 114. Bobby Orr also did it once with 102. Gretzky did it 11 times, all consecutively. During that streak, his best season (1985-86) he had 163 assists and his worst season (1989-90) he had 102. He holds the top eight spots in the record books for most assists in a season.
  • If you took away all of Gretzky’s goals, he would still have won the Art Ross Trophy for leading scorer four times and would still have more career points than anyone else. His 1963 career assists are better than Gordie Howe’s 1850 and Mark Messier’s 1887 points.


He won nine Hart Trophies, the NHL's most valuable player award, and eight of these were awarded in consecutive years from 1980-1987. In fact, Gretzky holds the record for most MVP awards of any player in American professional sports.

  • Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player) -1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989
  • Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) -1981, 1982 ,1983 ,1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1994
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff most valuable player) - 1985, 1988
  • Lester B. Pearson Award (outstanding player, voted by the players) -1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987
  • Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (most gentlemanly player) -1980, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1999
  • NHL Plus/Minus Award (best plus-minus rating) -1982, 1984, 1985, 1987
  • Chrysler-Dodge/NHL Performer of the Year -1985, 1986, 1987
  • Lester Patrick Trophy (outstanding service to hockey in the United States) -1994
  • NHL All-Star Game MVP-1983, 1989, 1999
  • NHL First All-Star Team-1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991
  • NHL Second All-Star Team-1980, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1997, 1998

Hockey Hall of Fame

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 22, 1999, becoming the tenth player to by-pass the three-year waiting period. The NHL then stated that he would be the last player to do so. His daily "journal" was syndicated throughout Canada's newspapers detailing his personal thoughts and feelings about his induction as the day neared. It was also announced that no other player would ever wear the number ‘99’ again. His number was retired league-wide.

"The Royal Wedding"

He met American actress Janet Jones in 1984 when he was a judge on the show "Dance Fever" and she was a dancer, but they didn't begin dating until 1987. Their July 17, 1988 nuptials at St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton was dubbed "The Royal Wedding" by the press and broadcast live throughout Canada. "Guards" from the Edmonton Fire Department stood on the church steps. The event reportedly cost Gretzky over $1,000,000; Janet's dress alone cost $40,000. They have 5 children: Paulina, Ty, Trevor, Tristan, and Emma.

Winter Olympics

Gretzky participated in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Expectations were high of the Canadian team, but without the presence of Mario Lemieux (with whom Gretzky did well with in the 1987 Canada Cup) and several other star Canadians due to injury, the team lost to Finland for the bronze medal. Many also tribute the loss of the gold medal to Canada's coach Marc Crawford's decision to use a defenceman, Ray Bourque, and not Gretzky in the shoot-out against Dominik Hasek.

Gretzky was Executive Director of the Canadian men's hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. On February 18, he lashed out at the media at a press conference, frustrated with Canadian response and lack of support for its national team. His temper boiled over after Canada's 3-3 draw vs. the Czech Republic, calling the criticism of his outburst "American propaganda," saying, "they're loving us not doing well," refering to American hockey fans. American hockey fans on-line began calling Gretzky a "cry-baby" for his emotional public display. Defenders said he was merely borrowing a page from former coach Glen Sather to take the pressure off his players. Canada beat the U.S. to win the gold medal 50 years to the day after the Edmonton Waterloo Mercurys won the nation's last gold medal in ice hockey. Gretzky has also expressed interest in managing Canada's men's hockey team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. He was asked to manage Canada's team at the 2005 Ice Hockey World Championships, but declined due to his mother's poor health. His mother is suffering from cancer. Even though he wasn't officially a member of the management staff, he was consulted regularly about decisions. Canada won the silver medal.

Honours and Accolades

Male Athlete of the Decade

In 1982, Gretzky became the first hockey player and first Canadian to be named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. He was also named Sports Illustrated Magazine's 1982 "Sportsman of the Year." In 1990, the AP named him Male Athlete of the Decade.

Order of Canada

Gretzky was named an officer of the Order of Canada on June 25, 1984, during his heyday with the Edmonton Oilers, for outstanding contribution to the sport of hockey.

Since the Order ceremonies are always held during the hockey season, it took 13 years, seven months and two governor generals before Gretzky could accept the honor.

Greatest Hockey Player

In 1997, prior to his retirement, The Hockey News named a committee of 50 hockey experts (former NHL players, past and present writers, broadcasters, coaches and hockey executives) to select and rank the 50 greatest players in NHL history. The experts voted Gretzky number one, ahead of the once seemingly incomparable Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe.

Fifth Greatest Athlete

In 1999, ESPN named Gretzky the fifth greatest athlete of the 20th century. Gretzky, the most honoured player in a team sport with nine MVP awards, was voted No. 5 among North American athletes by SportsCentury's distinguished 48-person panel. Only Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown preceded him.

The Wayne Gretzky Trophy

The Ontario Hockey League has named a trophy after the Great Gretzky. The OHL hands out the Wayne Gretzky Trophy to the winner of the Western Conference each year.

Off the ice

While in Edmonton, he endorsed everything from soft drinks and blue jeans to his own wallpaper, pillow cases, breakfast cereal, chocolate bars, and a Mattel "Great Gretzky" doll. Past and present plugs include Thrifty Car Rental, Peak Antifreeze, Ford Motor Company (in Canada only), Coca-Cola, Esso, McDonald's, Campbell's Soup, Primestar TV, Upper Deck, Nike, Ultra Wheels, Hallmark Cards, Zurich Insurance, Tylenol and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. He and his son Ty did commercials for the Sharp Viewcam. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 1989, though this re-inforced the notion among the public that he had better not quit his day job to pursue an acting career. He lent his likeness to a 1992 cartoon show, Pro-Stars, and video games in 1996 and 2004. He posed for the cover of Cigar Aficionado Magazine with Janet. In 1998, he launched a line of fashion menswear, and signed a licensing agreement with a phone card company. He owns a restaurant, Hespeler sports equipment, and co-owns a chain of roller-hockey rinks. After his retirement, he became the spokesman for Power Automotive Group of Southern California, and Tylenol Arthritis Formula. Forbes estimates that Gretzky earned $93.8 million from hockey and endorsements from 1990-98.

In 2000, he became Alternate Governor and Managing Partner of the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team. Gretzky owns 17% of the team. In 2004, he was voted one of the ten Greatest Canadians in a CBC poll.

A "Gretzky" has also become the nickname of a legendary coffee at Tim Hortons: with 9 cream and 9 sugars (99, Gretzky's number).

In poker, a pair of 9's is sometimes called a Gretzky.


  • Skate "to where the puck is going, not where it's been." -- From his father, Walter (Gretzky & Reilly, 1990, pg. 88.)
  • "100% of the shots you don't take don't go in."


  • Wayne Gretzky with Rick Reilly (1990). Gretzky: An Autobiography. An Edward Burlingame Book. ISBN 0060163399
  • SLAM! Presents Wayne Gretzky (http://www.canoe.ca/Gretzky/), Canadian Online Explorer: SLAM! Sports.
  • Wayne Gretzky Fansite (http://www.wayne-gretzky.info/), Wayne Gretzky Stats, Biography, Career Milestones and Quotes

See also

fr:Wayne Douglas Gretzky fi:Wayne Gretzky ja:ウェイン・グレツキー sv:Wayne Gretzky


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