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Wayne Gretzky

Photo of Wayne Gretzky

Regarded by many as the greatest hockey player ever, Wayne Gretzky learned the game on his backyard rink, practicing for hours a day under the watchful eye of his father Walter. Wayne’s hockey talent was apparent early. As a peewee, Wayne scored 378 goals, 517 points in only 85 games, a minor hockey record. As a 16 year old in the OHL with the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, Wayne scored 182 points in 64 games. Also that year, he competed in the World Junior Hockey Championship as a 16 year old, scoring 17 points in 6 games. Wayne would turn professional the following year, at the tender age of 17, joining the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA. After 6 games, his rights would be sold to the Edmonton Oilers, with whom he’d finish the season. When the Oilers merged into the NHL, Wayne followed suit. In his 1st NHL season, he’d tie Marcel Dionne for the NHL point lead and claim the scoring title the following year. In 1981/82, Wayne would score 92 goals and 212 points in 80 games, both NHL records for goals and points in a single season. Wayne would later top his points record in 1986, scoring 215 points. The Oilers would reach the 1983 Stanley Cup Finals, but lost in 4 straight games to the New York Islanders. Named Oiler’s captain the following season, Gretzky led the Oilers back to the Stanley Cup Finals, this time defeating the Islanders and winning the Stanley Cup. The Oilers would repeat as Stanley Cup Champions in 1985, with Gretzky winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The Oilers would win 2 more Stanley Cups with Wayne leading the way, in 1987 and 1988, with Gretzky winning his 2nd Conn Smythe Trophy in 1988. That summer, in a move that shocked the hockey world and outraged many Canadians, Wayne was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. As an Oiler, Gretzky won 7 Art Ross Trophies as the NHL leading scorer, 8 Hart Trophies as the NHL’s MVP, 5 Lester B Pearson Awards as the NHL’s MVP voted by the players and the 1980 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy that goes to the player who has best exhibited sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of play. As a King, Wayne would win 3 more Art Ross Trophies, the 1989 Hart Trophy and 3 more Lady Byng Memorial Trophies. In 1989 during a game in Edmonton, Wayne became the NHL’s all-time leader scorer, passing Gordie Howe. He would later become the all-time leading goal scorer in 1994. Gretzky would appear in the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals with the Kings, despite scoring 40 points in 24 playoff games, the Kings loss in 5 games to the Montreal Canadiens. After a brief stint with the St. Louis Blues in 1996, Wayne signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers in the summer of 1996, with whom he’d spend his final 3 seasons with, winning the Lady Byng Trophy in 1999, his final season. Wayne Gretzky would finish his NHL career with 894 goals, 1963 assists for 2857 points in 1487 games, holding the NHL’s all time record for goals assists and points. Most hockey experts predict these records will never be broken. Upon retirement, the Hockey Hall of Fame waived the mandatory 3 year wait, inducting him immediately. In 2000, Wayne became a part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, and served as their head coach from 2005 until 2009. Wayne would later sell his share of the Coyotes. He’d also been active with Hockey Canada, serving as Executive Director of Team Canada’s Gold Medal winning team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, the 2002 Turin Olympics and as a special advisor to Canada Gold Medal team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Wayne and his wife Janet, an actress, have 5 children; Paulina, Ty, Trevor, Tristan and Emma.