Wayne Gretzky Unisex T-Shirt
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Wayne Gretzky Highlights, The Greatest One
Wayne Douglas Gretzky /ˈɡrɛtski/; born January 26, 1961) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. He played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for four teams from 1979 to 1999. Nicknamed “The Great One“, he has been called “the greatest hockey player ever” by many sportswriters, players, and the NHL itself. Gretzky is the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player. He garnered more assists than any other player scored total points, and is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season – a feat he accomplished four times. In addition, Gretzky tallied over 100 points in 16 professional seasons, 14 of them consecutive. At the time of his retirement in 1999, he held 61 NHL records: 40 regular season records, 15 playoff records, and 6 All-Star records.(
Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, Gretzky honed his skills at a backyard rink and regularly played minor hockey at a level far above his peers. Despite his unimpressive stature, strength and speed, Gretzky’s intelligence and reading of the game were unrivaled. He was adept at dodging checks from opposing players, and consistently anticipated where the puck was going to be and executed the right move at the right time. Gretzky became known for setting up behind his opponent’s net, an area that was nicknamed “Gretzky’s office”.
In January 1978, Gretzky was the youngest top scorer in the 1978 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. In June he signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association (WHA), where he briefly played before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. When the WHA folded, the Oilers joined the NHL, where he established many scoring records and led his team to four Stanley Cup championships. Gretzky’s trade to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9, 1988, had an immediate impact on the team’s performance, eventually leading them to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, and he is credited with popularizing hockey in California. Gretzky played briefly for the St. Louis Blues before finishing his career with the New York Rangers. Gretzky captured nine Hart Trophies as the most valuable player, 10 Art Ross Trophies for most points in a season, two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP and five Lester B. Pearson Awards (now called the Ted Lindsay Award) for most outstanding player as judged by his peers. He led the league in goal-scoring five times and assists 16 times, won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and performance five times, and often spoke out against fighting in hockey.
After his retirement in 1999, Gretzky was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, making him the most recent player to have the waiting period waived. The NHL retired his jersey number 99 league-wide, making him the only player to receive such an honour. Gretzky was one of six players voted to the International Ice Hockey Federation‘s (IIHF) Centennial All-Star Team. Gretzky became executive director for the Canadian national men’s hockey team during the 2002 Winter Olympics, in which the team won a gold medal. In 2000, he became part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, and following the 2004–05 NHL lock-out, he became the team’s head coach. In 2004, Gretzky was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. In September 2009, following the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy, Gretzky resigned as head coach and relinquished his ownership share. In October 2016, he became partner and vice-chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group.
Wayne Gretzky was born on January 26, 1961, in Brantford, Ontario, the son of Phyllis Leone (Hockin) and Walter Gretzky. The couple had married in 1960, and lived in an apartment in Brantford, where Walter worked for Bell Telephone Canada. The family moved into a house on Varadi Avenue in Brantford seven months after Wayne was born, chosen partly because its yard was flat enough to make an ice rink on every winter. Wayne was joined by a sister, Kim (born 1963), and brothers Keith, Glen and Brent. The family would regularly visit the farm of Wayne’s grandparents, Tony and Mary, and watch Hockey Night in Canada together. By age two, Wayne was trying to score goals against Mary using a souvenir stick. The farm was where Wayne skated on ice for the first time, aged two years, 10 months.
Walter taught Wayne, Keith, Brent, Glen and their friends hockey on a rink he made in the back yard of the family home, nicknamed the “Wally Coliseum”. Drills included skating around Javex bleach bottles and tin cans, and flipping pucks over scattered hockey sticks to be able to pick up the puck again in full flight. Additionally, Walter gave the advice to “skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been”. Wayne was a classic prodigy whose extraordinary skills made him the target of jealous parents.
The team Gretzky played on at age six was otherwise composed of 10-year-olds. His first coach, Dick Martin, remarked that he handled the puck better than the 10-year-olds. According to Martin, “Wayne was so good that you could have a boy of your own who was a tremendous hockey player, and he’d get overlooked because of what the Gretzky kid was doing.” The sweaters for 10-year-olds were far too large for Gretzky, who coped by tucking the sweater into his pants on the right side. Gretzky continued doing this throughout his NHL career.
By age 10, Gretzky had scored an astonishing 378 goals and 139 assists in just one season with the Brantford Nadrofsky Steelers. His play attracted media attention beyond his hometown of Brantford, including a profile by John Iaboni in the Toronto Telegram in October 1971. In the 1974 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, Gretzky scored 26 points playing for Brantford. By age 13, he had scored over 1,000 goals. His play attracted considerable negative attention from other players’ parents, including those of his teammates, and he was often booed. According to Walter, the “capper” was being booed on “Brantford Day” at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in February 1975.
When Gretzky was 14, his family arranged for him to move to and play hockey in Toronto, partly to further his career, and partly to remove him from the uncomfortable pressure he faced in his hometown. The Gretzkys had to legally challenge the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to win Wayne the right to play in a different area, which was disallowed at the time. The Gretzkys won, and Wayne played Junior B hockey with the Toronto Nationals, in a league that included 20-year-olds. He earned Rookie of the Year honours in the Metro Junior B Hockey League in 1975–76, with 60 points in 28 games. The following year, as a 15–16-year-old, he had 72 points in 32 games with the same team, renamed the Seneca Nationals.
Despite his offensive statistics – scoring 132 points in 60 games in Junior B – two teams bypassed him in the 1977 Ontario Major Junior Hockey League draft of 16-year-olds. The Oshawa Generals picked Tom McCarthy first, and the Niagara Falls Flyers picked Steve Peters second overall. With the third pick, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds selected Gretzky, even though Walter Gretzky had told the team Wayne would not move to Sault Ste. Marie, a northern Ontario city that inflicts a heavy travelling schedule on its junior team. The Gretzkys made an arrangement with a local family they knew and Wayne did play for the Greyhounds, at age 16. It was with the Greyhounds that Gretzky first wore the number 99 on his jersey. He originally wanted to wear number 9—for his hockey hero Gordie Howe—but it was already being worn by teammate Brian Gualazzi. At coach Muzz MacPherson‘s suggestion, Gretzky settled on 99.
The 1978 World Junior Championships were held in Canada and televised in the country over the holiday season. The 16-year-old Gretzky scored 17 points in the tournament and was selected as the IIHF Directorate Forward.
TSN – Top 10 Wayne Gretzky Moments
20 Years Later: Wayne Gretzky’s Last Game | SN Presents
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