Wayne Gretzky Biography

Wayne Gretzky Biography

Born: January 26, 1961
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Canadian hockey player

Wayne Gretzky, known to hockey fans as “The Great One”, became the first player to win the Hart Trophy eight consecutive years, beating hockey legend Gordie Howe (1928-)’s all-time point record of 1,850.

showed early talent

Wayne Gretzky, of Russian and Polish descent, was born on January 26, 1961 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He was the first of five children born to Walter and Phyllis Gretzky. His father hoped that he would become a hockey player but was discouraged because of his size. Gretzky got his first pair of skates when he was three years old

and displayed an early interest in skating. He learned to skate on the Ninth River near his grandfather’s farm in Canning, Ontario, Canada, and on public rinks on weekends. But it was the rink that his father built for him behind the small house on Verdi Avenue in Brantford that became known as the birthplace of his skating skills.
Gretzky was only six years old when he saw his first year in organized hockey. He scored one goal, the lowest annual score of his career. Gretzky had already mastered a unique skating stride. His father’s advice to “skate where the puck is going” helped him score 196 goals in seventy-six games at the age of nine. Gretzky’s father inspired his son to succeed and told him that years of hard work would pay off when he became a successful hockey player.

As a sixteen-year-old player in the Junior “A” league, Gretzky continued his high scoring and filled the arena with fans eager to see his skills. He wore number 99, as number 9 was still being worn by his idol Gordie Howe. Due to his slight frame, a junior coach suggested him to choose attacking positions where he could avoid body contact. This was the beginning of Gretzky’s trademark spot: behind the opponent’s net.

In 1975, Gretzky moved to Toronto to play for the Young Nets, where he won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Two years later, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds selected him and he again won Rookie of the Year honors. Gretzky went to school in Brantford and continued high school classes in Sault Ste. Mary but left before graduation.

SEE ALSO : Bobby Orr: biography & personal life

becoming professional

In 1978, Gretzky turned professional with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association (WHA). Less than two months later the Edmonton Oilers of the same league purchased Gretzky’s contract, signing him to a twenty-one-year contract. The Edmonton Oilers were admitted to the National Hockey League (NHL) in the 1979–80 season. In his first year in the NHL, Gretzky scored fifty-one goals, eight more than he scored in the WHA, and made the second All-Star team. She won her first Hart Trophy for Most Valuable Player, and she won the Lady Byng Trophy for her sportsmanship and skating ability. To the public’s surprise, Gretzky’s mild-mannered charm was a perfect fit for the traditionally tough hockey player. He became the first player to win the Hart Trophy for eight consecutive years, from the 1979–80 season to the 1986–87 season.

Despite Gretzky’s talent, the struggling Oilers finished bottom of the league. In his second year he led the league in assists and points, made the first All-Star team and won his second Most Valuable Player Trophy award, but the Oilers lost to the New York Islanders in the quarterfinals. He continued to break records during the 1981–82 season, including some of his own. He scored fifty goals in thirty-eight games, breaking the record of Maurice Richard (1921–2000). And on February 24, 1982, he broke the single-season scoring record of Phil Esposito (1942–). But the Oilers had yet to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. However, in the 1983–84 season, the Oilers won their first Stanley Cup. The following two seasons ended with the Oilers occupying Stanley. Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1988. He soon transformed that weak team into one of the best.

Broke Howe’s record

Gretzky, a left-handed shooting center, developed a style that was as exciting to watch as it was distinctive. Listed in the program as 6 feet and 170 pounds, he always shied away from fights, preferring to drift and slide around the ice. Some fans believed that he saw the rink as a chessboard and had the ability to sense where the puck was going to end up, thus skating to that position. Others believed that his greatest asset was his ability to move sideways across the ice at full speed. But it was his assists that made him especially valuable to his team. He set a new record for assists (over thirteen hundred) in just twelve seasons, becoming the leading scorer in NHL history. In 1989 he surpassed his idol Gordie Howe’s all-time point record of 1,850.

Such accomplishments earned Gretzky many commercial endorsements for companies as disparate as General Mills and Nike. Consumers found his personality appealing and only endorsed products they used. Advertising Age magazine called him “the perfect athlete to endorse products.”

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traded to the blues

Gretzky continued to break records and win awards throughout the 1990s. At the end of the 1993–94 season he broke another Howe record of 801 career goals, and accomplished it in 650 fewer games than Howe played. Gretzky became frustrated with the Kings’ unsuccessful efforts and wanted to be traded. Gretzky was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the 1995–96 season.

new york ranger

Gretzky’s career with the Blues was brief. He did not officially sign with the team until after they lost the first two games in the playoff series. The Blues’ coach and general manager blamed Gretzky for the loss, but Gretzky had already decided not to sign with St. Louis. Instead, he signed with the New York Rangers for the 1996–97 season.

Gretzky retired from hockey in New York in April 1999. He left the game after twenty years as a professional in the game, having set or shared sixty-one NHL records. His number 99 jersey was permanently retired in a ceremony during Gretzky’s final game with the Rangers. Gretzky was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 1999.

Gretzky’s greatest accomplishment in his hockey career came as the executive director of the Canadian hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympics. A Canadian ice worker stuck a Canadian one dollar coin, a lucky “lunatic”, into the ice of the hockey arena. Maybe that’s why the Canadian team won 5 to 2 over the United States. It was the most watched game in hockey history, with thirty-eight million households attending. The final goal was scored to the sounds of “O Canada”. “The Canadian national anthem, in the background. Gretzky is currently part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes. He lives in the United States with his wife and four children.

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