“The Great One”
Wayne Gretzky (born January 26, 1961) is one of the greatest players in the game of ice hockey. The Canadian player’s nickname “The Great One” tells it all. Gretzky had a legendary roster number #99 throughout his career. He was awarded astounding nine Hart Trophies during his career as the most valuable player in the league. Wayne Gretzky’s hockey IQ and extraordinary ability to read the game made him an exceptional player.
Gretzky played his first professional games for Indianapolis Racers in WHA league before being moved to Edmonton Oilers, which also played in WHA during 1978-79 season. In 1979, after WHA league finished, Edmonton Oilers joined NHL with three other teams. Gretzky made a huge impact, scoring 137 points in his debut season.
Pairing with Jari Kurri
When Jari Kurri joined Edmonton Oilers, he was soon put together with Wayne Gretzky. They became a legendary duo in the 1980’s and this was also incredibly successful time for Edmonton Oilers. The playing styles of Gretzky and Kurri fit perfectly together, and Gretzky broke a host of player records in NHL during that time. For example, Gretzky achieved four over 200-point regular seasons. The only player to achieve even remotely something like this is Mario Lemieux – and he actually never made 200 points, missing it by one point during 1988-89 season.
Wayne Gretzky won four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers. However, he never won another cup after being traded to Los Angeles Kings in 1988. The enormous deal included also Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski, because this was Gretzky’s prerequisite for the deal.
Los Angeles Kings
The trade to Los Angeles Kings was indeed a huge one and it gained more attention to the game in USA – especially in the West Coast. Gretzky made a difference also in LA Kings, scoring several over 100-point regular seasons – however, season 1992-93 was an exception, as Gretzky’s season was hampered by back injury, which kept him off the ice for a long period.
Later on, also Jari Kurri joined LA Kings, because he still wanted to play with Gretzky. Both players were traded from LA Kings during season 1995-96. Gretzky headed to St. Louis for a short period.
After St. Louis, Gretzky played three seasons in NY Rangers before finishing his career after 1998-99 season. During his last professional season, Gretzky scored only nine goals, but managed to break Gordie Howe’s scoring record of 1071 goals (this number included both regular season and play-off goals).
Gretzky played for Canada from 1978 Junior World Championships. His biggest achievements include three Canada Cup victories in 1984, 1987 and 1991. He is also World Cup silver medallist from year 1996 and World Championships silver medallist from year 1982. Gretzky retired from international hockey after 1998 Olympics, where Canadian team was placed fourth.
After finishing his playing career, Gretzky acquired 10% stake of Phoenix Coyotes. After some other roles in the team, Gretzky became a head coach of Coyotes in 2005. His management duties continued to the end of the 2007-08 season.
Wayne Gretzky has been an outstanding ambassador to the game of hockey, both on and off the ice. He has also acted as Executive Director of Canadian ice hockey Olympic team. His impact and legacy are still of great importance – after all, he is The Great One.