Gretzky and Messier are rushing down the ice on a 2 on 1. Messier takes the puck deep into the zone, throws it out front to Gretzky, Gretzky one-times it and he scores! Number 99 from number 11, what a duo.
Wayne Gretzky #99 – “The Great One” as most hockey fans know him was born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He was the oldest child with 1 sister and 3 brothers. His mother’s name was Phylliss and his dad’s name was Walter.
Wayne, his brothers, and friends grew up learning to play hockey on a backyard ice rink built by his dad. They nicknamed the backyard rink “Wally Coliseum”. Walter would set up different drills for the kids to practice different hockey skills. He would have them skate around bottles and cans on the ice and flip pucks up over sticks he laid down. This taught the kids to be fast thinkers and good with the puck. Wayne picked up the skills very quickly, He became very good at a young age.
When he was 6, Wayne played on a team that was mostly 10-year-olds and was the best player on the team. The jerseys were way too big for Wayne, so he had to tuck his jersey in to keep it from hanging. He continued to do this all the way through his NHL career.
By the time Wayne had turned 10, he had already scored an amazing 378 goals and 139 assists in one season with his Brantford hockey team. His amazing play attracted attention even outside of his hometown, and he appeared in several articles in the news.
Playing hockey at such a high level, unfortunately, upset a lot of his teammates’ parents, so at 14 his family moved to Toronto both to escape the pressure of his hometown and to help further his hockey career.
At age 14, Wayne played Junior B hockey in a league that included 20-year-olds. He earned Rookie of the Year awards in the Metro Junior B Hockey League in 1975–76, with 60 points in 28 games. The following year, as a 15-year-old, he had 72 points in 32 games with the same team, renamed the Seneca Nationals.
Even though he had two great first seasons in Toronto, he didn’t get chosen first overall in the Ontario Major Junior Hockey draft. The Greyhounds chose him 3rd overall. That was the first time that Wayne ever wore the number 99.
From junior, Gretzky moved onto play with the World Hockey Association in 1978. Wayne signed on to play with Indianapolis but only ended up playing 8 games for them before being sold in a deal with the Edmonton Oilers, who were at the time another WHA team.
In his one and only season as part of the WHA, they chose Wayne to play in the All-Star Game. Wayne had the honor of playing with his idol Gordie Howe and Gordie’s son Mark.
On his 18th birthday, the Edmonton Oilers signed Wayne to a 10-year contract, which was the longest contract ever written for a pro hockey player. The deal was worth 3-million dollars. That same year Wayne finished 3rd in the league with 110 points.
At the end of Wayne’s first season, the WHA league had to end because of money problems. 3 teams from the WHA including the Edmonton Oilers joined the National Hockey League (or NHL) for the next season. As part of joining the NHL, the 3 teams could protect only a few players. Edmonton protected Wayne so that he would continue to play for them.
In his first NHL season, Wayne won the award for MVP (most valuable player) and tied for first in scoring with 137 points. This still stands as the highest number of points ever scored by a first-year NHL player.
During the 1981-1982 season, Wayne set a record when he scored 50 goals in only 39 games. The previous record was 50 in 50 and had been in place for 35 years.
He ended that season with 212 points in 80 games, becoming the only player in history to break the 200 point mark. He was named Male Athlete of the Year, Sportsman of the Year, and Newsmaker of the Year in 1982.
During his time in Edmonton, Wayne held or shared 49 NHL records and won the Stanley Cup 5 times over a 7-year period.
A huge honor came for Wayne when he was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 1984. He was then promoted to the Companion of the Order of Canada in 2009 for everything he had done for the sport of hockey. , and as one of the best players of all time. Also, for his acts of giving, and as a volunteer, and role model for many young people.
Wayne had a major influence on the style of play for the Edmonton Oilers and the NHL as a whole. He inspired others to play as a team, which helped lead the Oilers to become the highest-scoring team in NHL history.
Gretzky was the first Canadian star hockey player who made the game and his play about the team. Most teams before Wayne focused only on getting the puck to their best players so they could score. Wayne and the Oilers changed this.
He improved his teammates because he included them in every play. If they wanted to play with Wayne, they needed to play their best and play as a team. Wayne knew he was too small and not strong enough to carry the plays all by himself, so he used his teammates fully.
Wayne stayed in Edmonton until 1988. Just 2 hours after winning the Stanley Cup, Wayne found out that he was being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. The deal happened quickly and involved a few other players from the Oilers that Wayne requested be included in the trade to join him in LA.
In Wayne’s first game in Edmonton after being traded, he received a 4-minute standing ovation. They sold out the rink and at the time it was the Oiler’s biggest crowd ever.
Wayne’s first season in LA saw an increase in the number of people attending the games and huge growth in fan interest in a city not typically known for following hockey.
Wayne stayed in LA from 1988 to 1996 before moving to the St. Louis Blues in 1996 for one season. They then traded him to the NY Rangers where he played until retiring from hockey in 1999.
During his career, Wayne played in multiple international tournaments including the World Juniors, Canada Cup, World Championship, and the Olympics.
No one player has ever had such a huge impact on the game of hockey like this small Canadian boy did. Despite all the challenges that he faced growing up being a star hockey player, Wayne kept going and didn’t let the negativity stop him.
Even with the nickname The Great One, Wayne Gretzky has shown himself to be one of the nicest, most caring, and compassionate people that has ever lived. He never acted like he was anything special and always put his team first. We can all learn a lot from Wayne.