Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky

Infobox Ice Hockey Player

image_size = 240px
position = Centre
played_for = WHA
Indianapolis Racers
Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers
Los Angeles Kings
St. Louis Blues
New York Rangers
shot = Left
height_ft = 6
height_in = 0
weight_lb = 185
nationality = CAN
birth_date = birth date and age|1961|1|26
birth_place = Brantford, Ontario, CAN
career_start =1978
career_end = 1999
halloffame = 1999

Wayne Douglas Gretzky, OC (born January 26 1961) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey player. He is the current part-owner, head of hockey operations and head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Gretzky honed his skills at a backyard rink and regularly played minor hockey at a level far above his peers.cite web|last=Schwartz|first=Larry|url=http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00014218.html|title='Great' and 'Gretzky' belong together|publisher=ESPN.com|accessdate=2006-10-04] 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 he could consistently anticipate where the puck was going to be and execute the right move at the right time. Gretzky also became known for setting up behind the net, an area that was nicknamed "Gretzky's office" because of his skills there. [cite news|last=Sullivan|first=Tim|url=http://www.sptimes.com/2004/06/03/hockeyschool/graphic.shtml|title=Gretzky's office|work=St. Petersburg Times|accessdate=2008-04-23]

In 1978, 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. His trade to the Los Angeles Kings had an immediate impact on the team's performance, leading them to the 1993 Cup finals, and is credited with popularizing hockey in the southern United States. Gretzky played briefly for the St. Louis Blues and finished his career with the New York Rangers. In his career, Gretzky captured nine Hart Trophies as the most valuable player, ten Art Ross Trophies for most points in a season, five Lady Byng Trophies for sportsmanship and performance, five Lester B. Pearson Awards, and two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP.

After his retirement in 1999, he was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, being the last player to have the waiting period waived. He became Executive Director for the Canadian national men's hockey team during the 2002 Winter Olympics, where the team won a gold medal. In 2000 he became part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, and following the 2004–05 NHL lockout he became their head coach.

Nicknamed "The Great One", Gretzky was called "the greatest player of all time" in "Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the NHL".cite book|last=Falla|first=Jack|editor=Dan Diamond|chapterurl=http://www.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky/greatnessascendant.html|chapter=Wayne Gretzky: Greatness Ascendant|title=Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League|publisher=Total Sports|accessdate=2008-04-15|isbn=9781892129857] He is generally regarded as the best player in the history of the NHL, [cite encyclopedia|title=Wayne Gretzky|encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica|url=http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9001584/Wayne-Gretzky|accessdate=2008-06-10] cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/star00/full37.htm|title=League retires Gretzky's No. 99|work=USA Today|date=2000-02-06|accessdate=2008-03-07] and has been called "the greatest hockey player ever" by many sportswriters [Falla, Jack, "The Greatest One Bar None", in Steve Dryden (ed.), "The Top 100 NHL Players of All Time", p. 16.] [cite web|last=Huber|first=Jim|url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/jim_huber/news/1999/04/13/huber_gretzky/index.html|work=Sports Illustrated|title=The Greatest?|date=1999-04-17|accessdate=2008-03-07] players, [cite web|last=Maloney|first=Tom|url=http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1159670,00.html|title=Gretzky's Awkward Arrival|work=Time|date=2006-02-15|accessdate=2008-03-07] and coaches. Upon his retirement on April 18 1999, he held forty regular-season records, fifteen playoff records, and six All-Star records. [cite web|url=http://www2.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky/61records.html|title=NHL Records Held or Shared by Wayne Gretzky|publisher=National Hockey League|accessdate=2008-04-19] He is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season—a feat he accomplished four times. In addition, he tallied over 100 points in 15 NHL seasons, 13 of them consecutively. He is the only player to have his number (99) officially retired by the NHL for all teams.

Early years

Gretzky's paternal grandfather Anton (Tony) Gretzky was an immigrant who came to Canada via the United States at the beginning of the 20th century from Grodno Governorate of the former Russian Empire, now part of Belarus, [Kukushkin (2007), p. 132.] with his Polish wife Mary.Redmond (1993), p. 11.] In interviews, Gretzky's father Walter has referred to himself as being from Belarus and his parents being White Russians, [cite news|last=Jones|first=Terry|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/Phoenix/2008/02/13/4843850-sun.html|title=Family comes first|work=Ottawa Sun|date=2008-02-13|accessdate=2008-04-26] while on other occasions he has mentioned his family's Polish ancestry. [McKenzie, Bob, in "Total Gretzky", p. 43.] In a 1999 Hockey Hall Of Fame inductee press conference, Gretzky stated "Thank God I'm Polish" when a friendly joke was made about another inductee of Scottish descent who wore a traditional Scottish kilt in honor of his heritage. [cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/winter02/gen/story?id=1338965|title=The Great One an American? Almost|publisher=ESPN.com|date=2002-02-22|accessdate=2007-01-25]

Tony and Mary owned a 25-acre vegetable farm in Canning, Ontario, while Wayne's parents Walter and Phyllis had their own apartment in Brantford where Walter worked for Bell Telephone Canada when Wayne, their first child, was born. Seven months after Wayne was born, Walter and Phyllis moved into their own home where the family grew to include Wayne's siblings Kim, Keith, Glen, and Brent. The farm was considered a second home, where the family watched "Hockey Night in Canada" on Saturday nights; in a sign of things to come, at age two Wayne tried to score goals against his grandmother using a souvenir stick.Redmond (1993), p. 12.] The farm was where Wayne ice skated for the first time, two months before his third birthday.

Walter taught Wayne and his brothers Keith, Brent, and Glen to play hockey on a rink Walter made in the back yard of their home, nicknamed the "Wally Coliseum".MacGregor, Roy, in "Total Gretzky", pp. 19–20.] 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. Walter's advice included 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.cite web|url=http://www.cbc.ca/greatest/top_ten/nominee/gretzky-wayne.html|title=Top Ten Greatest Canadians - Wayne Gretzky|publisher=Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|accessdate=2007-02-19]

Gretzky's first team, at age six, was a team of ten-year-olds, starting a pattern where Gretzky always played at a level far above his peers through his minor hockey years. [cite web|last=Saraceno|first=Jon|url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/gretzky/hall04.htm|title=Gretzky nurtured for hockey fame|work=USA Today|date=1999-11-22|accessdate=2008-04-23] His first coach, Dick Martin, remarked that he handled the puck better than the ten-year-olds. [Gretzky (1994), p. 15.] 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." [Gretzky (1994), p. 17.] The sweaters for ten-year-olds were far too large for Gretzky, who coped by tucking the sweater into his pants on the right side. He continued doing this after making it to the NHL. [Gretzky (1990), pp. 18–19.]

By the age of ten he had scored 378 goals and 120 assists in just 85 games with the Brantford Nadrofsky Steelers. His play now attracted media attention beyond his hometown of Brantford, including a profile by John Iaboni in the "Toronto Telegram" in October 1971. [cite news|last=Iaboni|first=John|url=http://www.canoe.ca/GretzkyHall/nov22_hkygen.html|title=No. 9 with big No. 9 aspirations|work=Toronto Telegram|date=1971-10-28|accessdate=2008-04-14] By age 13, he had scored over 1,000 goals.Redmond (1993), p. 16.] His play attracted considerable negative attention from other players' parents, including those of his teammates, and he was often booed.Redmond (1993), p. 15.] 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 associations to win Wayne the right to play elsewhere, which was disallowed at the time.Redmond (1993), pp. 16–18.] The Gretzkys won, and Wayne played Junior B hockey with the Toronto Nationals. 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-year-old, he had 72 points in 32 games with the same team, then known as the Seneca Nationals. [cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/LegendsMember.jsp?mem=p199901&type=Player&page=statsawards&list=ByName|title=Wayne Gretzky Career Statistics|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame|accessdate=2008-04-19] In addition, he signed with his first agent, Bob Behnke.

Despite his offensive statistics, two teams bypassed him in the 1977 OMJHL Midget Draft of 16-year-olds. Oshawa picked Tom McCarthy, and Niagara Falls picked Steve Peters second overall. With the third pick, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds selected Gretzky, even though Walter Gretzky had told the team that Wayne would not move to Sault Ste. Marie, a northern Ontario city that inflicts a heavy traveling schedule on its junior team. The Gretzkys made an arrangement with a local family they knew and Wayne played a season in the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 16 with the Greyhounds.cite news|last=Orr|first=Frank|url=http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/gretzky/greatone.html|title=Gretzky, only 16, carries a 'Gold-Orr' label|work=The Sporting News|date=1978-01-27|accessdate=2008-04-10] It was with the Greyhounds that Wayne 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 a teammate. At coach Muzz MacPherson's suggestion, Gretzky settled on 99.cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky/99reasons.html|title=99 Reasons Why Wayne Gretzky is "The Great One"|publisher=National Hockey League|accessdate=2007-09-19]

At 16, in his single year at the major junior level, Gretzky surpassed the OMJHL single-season scoring record, winning the OMJHL Rookie of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike awards. He was selected to play for Canada at the 1978 World Junior Championships. [cite journal|last=Adams|first=Alan|url=http://www.nhl.com/intheslot/read/impact/december/main.html|title=The crucible: World Junior Championships test mettle, moxy of young stars|journal=Impact!|publisher=National Hockey League|month=December|year=2002|accessdate=2007-09-19] The youngest player in the tournament, he finished as the top scorer, was voted to the All-Star team, and was named Best Forward. [cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky/intlcareer.html|title=Gretzky's International Career|publisher=National Hockey League|accessdate=2007-09-19]

World Hockey Association

In 1978, the World Hockey Association (WHA) league was in competition with the established NHL. The NHL did not allow the signing of players under the age of 20, but the WHA had no rules regarding such signings. Several WHA teams courted Gretzky, notably the Indianapolis Racers and the Birmingham Bulls. Birmingham Bulls owner John F. Bassett wanted to confront the NHL by signing as many young and promising superstars as possible and saw Gretzky as the most promising young prospect,Willes (2004), p. 221.] but it was Racers owner Nelson Skalbania who signed 17-year-old Gretzky to a seven-year personal services contract worth $1.75 million US. [cite news|last=Zeisberger|first=Mike|url=http://www.canoe.ca/GretzkyHall/nov22_zeisberger.html|title=Destined for Greatness|work=Toronto Sun|date=1999-11-22|accessdate=2008-04-21] Gretzky scored his first professional goal against Dave Dryden of the Edmonton OilersWilles (2004), p. 219.] in his fifth game, and his second goal four seconds later. [Davis, Reyn (1999), in "Total Gretzky", p. 51.] Skalbania opted to have Gretzky sign a personal-services contract rather than a standard player contract in part because he knew a deal to take some WHA teams into the NHL was in the works. He also knew that the Racers could not hope to be included among those teams, and hoped to keep the Racers alive long enough to collect compensation from the surviving teams when the WHA dissolved, as well as any funds earned from selling the young star. cite book |title=Champions: The Illustrated History of Hockey's Greatest Dynasties |last=Hunter |first=Douglas |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1997 |publisher=Triumph Books |location=Chicago |isbn=1572432166]

Gretzky only played eight games for Indianapolis. The Racers were losing $40,000 per game. Skalbania told Gretzky he would be moved, offering him a choice between Edmonton and Winnipeg. On the advice of his agent, Gretzky picked Edmonton, but the move was not that simple. Gretzky, goaltender Eddie Mio and forward Peter Driscoll were put on a private plane, not knowing where they would land and what team they would be joining. While in the air, Skalbania worked on the deal. Skalbania offered to play a game of backgammon with Winnipeg owner Michael Gobuty, the stakes being if Gobuty won, he would get Gretzky and if he lost, he had to give Skalbania a share of the Jets. Gobuty turned down the proposal and the players landed in Edmonton. [Gretzky (1990), pp. 34–35.] Skalbania sold Gretzky, Mio, and Driscoll to his former partner, and then-owner of the Edmonton Oilers, Peter Pocklington. Although the announced price was $850,000, Pocklington actually paid $700,000. Mio paid the $4,000 bill for the flight with his credit card. [Gretzky (1990), p. 35.] The money was not enough to keep the Racers alive; they folded 17 games later.

One of the highlights of Gretzky’s season was his appearance in the 1979 WHA All-Star Game. The format was a three-game series between the WHA All-Stars against Dynamo Moscow. The WHA All-Stars were coached by Jacques Demers, who put Gretzky on a line with his boyhood idol Gordie Howe and his son, Mark Howe.Willes (2004), p. 234.] In game one, the line scored seven points, and the WHA All-Star won by a score of 4–2. In game two, Gretzky and Mark Howe each scored a goal and Gordie Howe picked up an assist as the WHA won 4–2. The line did not score in the final game, but the WHA won by a score of 4–3. [Surgent (2004), p. 289.]

On Gretzky's 18th birthday, January 26, 1979, Pocklington signed him to a 10-year personal services contract (the longest in hockey history) worth C$3 million, with options for 10 more years. [cite news|url=http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20051121/news_1s21gallery.html|title=Ali Center fitting tribute to Greatest|work=San Diego Union-Tribune|date=2005-11-21|accessdate=2008-04-19] Gretzky finished third in the league in scoring at 110 points, behind Robbie Ftorek and Real Cloutier.Willes (2004), p. 239.] Gretzky captured the Lou Kaplan Trophy as rookie of the year, and helped the Oilers to first overall in the league. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/wha19731979.html|title=1978-79 World Hockey Association (WHA)|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-13] The Oilers reached the Avco World Trophy finals, where they lost to the Winnipeg Jets in six games. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/playoffdisplay.php3?league=wha1973&season=1979&leaguenm=WHA|title=1978-79 WHA Playoff Results|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-21] It was Gretzky's only year in the WHA, as the league folded following the season. [cite journal|last=Davis|first=Reyn|url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1094980/index.htm|title=A Nowhere Ride|journal=Sports Illustrated|date=1979-05-28|accessdate=2008-04-21]

NHL career

After the World Hockey Association folded in 1979, the Edmonton Oilers and three other teams joined the NHL. [The other three teams to join the NHL were the New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Jets.] Gretzky's success in the WHA carried over into the NHL, despite some critics suggesting he would flounder in what was considered the bigger, tougher, and more talented league.cite journal|last=Shouler|first=Kenneth|url=http://www.winespectator.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/People_Profile/0,2540,13,00.html|title=Lord of the Rink|journal=Cigar Aficionado|year=1997|accessdate=2008-04-15]

The Oilers, like the other surviving WHA teams, were allowed to protect two goaltenders and two skaters from being reclaimed by the established NHL teams. However, they were allowed to use one of the skater's slots to protect Gretzky. Under normal circumstances, Gretzky would have been removed from the Oilers and placed in the pool for the NHL Entry Draft. The league decided to make an exception due to his importance to the success of the Oilers and the league at large.

Edmonton Oilers (1979–1988)

In his first NHL season, 1979–80, Gretzky proved his critics wrong. He was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the League's Most Valuable Player (the first of eight in a row) and tied for the scoring lead with Marcel Dionne with 137 points,cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/SilverwareTrophyWinners.jsp?tro=HMT|title=Hart Memorial Trophy Winners|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame|accessdate=2008-04-10] [cite news|last=Matheson|first=Jim|url=http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/gretzky/bargain.html|title=Gretzky is a bargain|work=The Sporting News|date=1980-11-01|accessdate=2008-04-10] which remains the most points by a first-year player. Although Gretzky played 79 games to Dionne's 80, Dionne was awarded the Art Ross Trophy since he scored more goals (53 vs. 51). [cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsofHockey/jsp/SilverwareTrophyWinner.jsp?tro=ART&year=1979=80|title=1979-80 Art Ross Trophy Winner|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame|accessdate=2008-04-11] Gretzky became the youngest player to score 50 goals but was not eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top NHL rookie, because of his previous year of WHA experience. [cite news|date=1980-06-06|title=Gretzky wins 2 NHL honors in first year|work=The Globe and Mail|page=35] The Calder was awarded to Boston Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque. [cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/SilverwareTrophyWinner.jsp?tro=CMT&year=1979-80|title=1979-80 Calder Memorial Trophy Winner|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame|accessdate=2008-04-14]

In his second season, Gretzky won the Art Ross (the first of seven consecutive) with a then-record 164 points, breaking both Bobby Orr's record for assists in a season (102) and Phil Esposito's record for points in a season (152). He won his second straight Hart Trophy.

During the 1981–82 season, he surpassed a record that had stood for 35 years: 50 goals in 50 games. Set by Maurice "Rocket" Richard during the 1944–45 NHL season and tied by Mike Bossy during the 1980–81 NHL season, Gretzky accomplished the feat in only 39 games. His 50th goal of the season came on December 30, 1981 in the final seconds of a 7–5 win against the Philadelphia Flyers and was his fifth of the game. [cite news|title=50 goals in 39 games Gretzky does it|work=The Globe and Mail|date=1981-12-31|page=S1] Later that season, Gretzky broke Esposito's record for most goals in a season (76) on February 24, 1982, scoring three goals to help beat the Buffalo Sabres 6–3. [cite news|last=Clarity|first=James F.|url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F3091FFC385F0C768EDDAB0894DA484D81|title=Gretzky, scoring 3 goals, sets season record at 79|work=The New York Times|date=1982-02-25|accessdate=2008-04-14] He ended the 1981–82 season with records of 92 goals, 120 assists, and 212 points in 80 games, becoming the first and only player in NHL history to break the 200–point mark. [cite news|title=Wayne's Top 10|work=The Calgary Herald|page=C5|date=1999-04-17] That year, Gretzky became the first hockey player and first Canadian to be named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. [cite news|title=Gretzky wins Ontario honor|work=The Globe and Mail|page=S5|date=1983-01-26] He was also named 1982 "Sportsman of the Year" by "Sports Illustrated". [cite journal|url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/featured/8830/index.htm|date=1982-12-27|title=Wayne Gretzky, Sportsman of the Year|journal=Sports Illustrated|accessdate=2008-04-11|pages=(cover)]

The following seasons saw Gretzky break his own assists record three more times (125 in 1982–83, 135 in 1984–85, and 163 in 1985–86); he also bettered that mark (120 assists) in 1986–87 with 121 and 1990–91 with 122, and his point record one more time (215).cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky/careerstats.html|title=Wayne Gretzky's Career Statistics|publisher=National Hockey League|accessdate=2008-04-14] By the time he finished playing in Edmonton, he held or shared 49 NHL records, which in itself was a record.

The Edmonton Oilers finished first overall in their last WHA regular season. The same success was not immediate when they joined the NHL, but within four seasons, the Oilers were competing for the Stanley Cup. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/teamseasons.php?tid=41|title=Edmonton Oilers (NHL)|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-23] The Oilers were a young, strong team featuring forwards Mark Messier, Gretzky, Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri, defenceman Paul Coffey, and goaltender Grant Fuhr. Gretzky was its captain from 1983–88. In 1983, they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to be swept by the three-time defending champion New York Islanders. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/playoffdisplay.php3?league=nhl1927&season=1983&leaguenm=NHL|title=1982-83 NHL Playoff Results|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-13] The following season, the Oilers met the Islanders in the Finals again, this time winning the Stanley Cup, their first of five in seven years. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/playoffdisplay.php3?league=nhl1927&season=1984&leaguenm=NHL|title=1983-84 NHL Playoff Results|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-13] Gretzky was named an officer of the Order of Canada on June 25, 1984 for outstanding contribution to the sport of hockey. Since the Order ceremonies are always held during the hockey season, it took 13 years and 7 months—and two Governors-General—before he could accept the honour. [cite web|url=http://www.gg.ca/honours/search-recherche/honours-desc.asp?lang=e&TypeID=orc&id=3905|title=Order of Canada: Wayne Gretzky, O.C.|publisher=Governor General of Canada|date=2005-09-27|accessdate=2008-04-14] The Oilers also won the Cup with Gretzky in 1985, 1987, and 1988; and without him in 1990 with Messier as captain. [cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/cup/champs.html|title=Stanley Cup Champions and Finalists|publisher=National Hockey League|accessdate=2008-04-14]

"The Trade"

Two hours after the Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1988, Wayne learned from his father that the Oilers were planning to deal him to another team. [Gretzky(1990), pp. 177–179.] Walter had known for months, but kept it from Wayne so as to not upset him. According to Walter, Wayne was being "shopped" to Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, and Vancouver. According to Wayne, Pocklington needed money as his other business ventures were not doing well, and had gone "sour" on Wayne and wanted to move him. [Gretzky (1990), pp. 182–183.] At first Gretzky did not want to leave Edmonton, but he later received a call from Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall while on his honeymoon asking permission to meet and discuss the deal. Wayne informed McNall that his prerequisites for a deal to take place were that Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski join him as teammates in Los Angeles. After the details of the trade were finalized by McNall and Pocklington, one final condition had to be met: Gretzky had to call Pocklington and request a trade. [Gretzky (1990), p. 183.]

On August 9, 1988, in a move that heralded significant change in the NHL, the Oilers traded Gretzky, along with McSorley and Krushelnyski, to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash, and the Kings' first-round draft picks in 1989 (later traded to the New Jersey Devils—New Jersey selected Jason Miller), 1991 (Martin Rucinsky), and 1993 (Nick Stajduhar). "The Trade", as it came to be known, [cite web|url=http://www.oilersheritage.com/history/transformation_transformed_after_trade.html|title=After the Trade|publisher=OilersHeritage.com|accessdate=2006-07-13] upset Canadians to the extent that New Democratic Party House Leader Nelson Riis demanded that the government block it, [cite news|last=Morrison|first=Scott|url=http://web.archive.org/web/20030510074043/http://www.slam.canoe.ca/Gretzky/gretztrade.html|title=Wayne Gretzky traded... ...California here he comes|work=Toronto Sun|date=1988-08-10|accessdate=2008-04-14] and Pocklington was burned in effigy outside the Northlands Coliseum. Gretzky himself was considered a "traitor" by some Canadians for turning his back on his adopted hometown, his home province, and his home country; his motivation was widely rumoured to be the furtherance of his wife's acting career. [cite news|last=Jones|first=Terry|url=http://web.archive.org/web/20030910084927/http://slam.canoe.ca/Gretzky/gretzky_janet_speaks.html|title=Telling it like it is|work=Edmonton Sun|date=1988-08-12|accessdate=2008-04-14]

Edmontonians bore no grudge against Gretzky. On his first appearance in Edmonton after the trade—a game that was nationally televised in Canada—he received a four-minute standing ovation.Raymond (1994), p. 66.] The arena was sold out, and the attendance of 17,503 was the Oilers' biggest crowd ever to that date. Large cheers erupted for his first shift, his first touch of the puck, his two assists and for Mark Messier's body check of Gretzky into the boards. After the game, Gretzky took the opportunity to confirm his patriotism: "I'm still proud to be a Canadian. I didn't desert my country. I moved because I was traded and that's where my job is. But I'm Canadian to the core. I hope Canadians understand that." After the 1988–89 season, a life-sized bronze statue of Gretzky was erected outside the Northlands Coliseum, holding the Stanley Cup over his head (picture shown above, to the right). [Raymond (1994), p. 67.]

Los Angeles Kings (1988–1996)

The Kings named Gretzky their captain (a position he held until his trade to St. Louis in 1996). He made an immediate impact on the ice, scoring on his first shot on goal in the first regular-season game. [Gretzky (1990), p. 202] The Kings got off to their best start ever, winning four straight on their way to qualifying for the playoffs. Despite being underdogs against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Oilers in the Smythe Division semifinals, Gretzky led the Kings to a shocking upset of his old squad, spearheading the Kings' return from a 3–1 series deficit to win the series 4–3. [cite journal|last=Murphy|first=Austin|url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1068306/1/index.htm|title=Dynasty Undone|journal=Sports Illustrated|date=1989-04-24|accessdate=2008-04-15] For only the second time in his NHL career, Gretzky finished second in scoring, but narrowly beat out Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux (who scored 199 points) for the Hart Trophy as MVP. [cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/SilverwareTrophyWinner.jsp?tro=HMT&year=1988-89|title=1988-89 Hart Memorial Trophy Winner|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame|accessdate=2008-04-15] In 1990, the Associated Press named him Male Athlete of the Decade. [cite journal|last=Verdi|first=Bob|url=http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/gretzky/baberuth.html|title=Hockey's Babe Ruth is athlete of the '80s|journal=The Sporting News|date=1990-01-22|accessdate=2008-04-15]

Gretzky's first season in Los Angeles saw a marked increase in attendance and fan interest in a city not previously known for following hockey. The Kings now boasted of numerous sellouts. [cite journal |last=Fichtenbaum |first=Paul |url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1068882/index.htm |title=New King Boffo at Box Office |journal=Sports Illustrated |date=1989-10-09 |accessdate=2008-04-15] Many credit Gretzky's arrival with putting non-traditional US hockey markets on "the NHL map"; not only did California receive two more NHL franchises (the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and San Jose Sharks) during Gretzky's tenure in L.A., but his popularity in Southern California proved to be an impetus in the league establishing teams in other parts of the US Sun Belt. [cite journal |last=Roderick |first=Kevin |url=http://www.kevinroderick.com/gretzky.html |title=The Big Chill |journal=Los Angeles Magazine |month=December |year=2001 |accessdate=2006-02-07]

Gretzky was sidelined for much of the 1992–93 regular season with an upper back injury, the only year in which he did not lead his team in scoring. [cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/gretzky/bio.htm|title=The Wayne Gretzky file|publisher=USA Today.com|date=1999-11-22|accessdate=2008-04-15] However, he performed very well in the playoffs, notably when he scored a hat trick in Game 7 of the Campbell Conference Finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. This victory propelled the Kings into the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history, where they faced the Montreal Canadiens. After winning the first game of the series by a score of 4–1, the team lost the next three games in overtime, and then fell 4–1 in the deciding fifth game where Gretzky failed to get a shot on net. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/playoffdisplay.php3?league=nhl1927&season=1993&leaguenm=NHL|title=1992-93 NHL Playoff Results|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-15] The next season, Gretzky broke Gordie Howe's career goal-scoring record and won the scoring title, but the team began a long slide, and despite numerous player and coaching moves, they failed to qualify for the playoffs again until 1998. [cite web|url=http://kings.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NHLPage&bcid=4183|title=The History of the Los Angeles Kings|publisher=Los Angeles Kings|accessdate=2008-04-15] Long before then, running out of time and looking for a team with which he could win again, Gretzky had been traded from the Kings at his request.

t. Louis Blues (1996)

On February 27, 1996, Gretzky joined the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, and two draft picks. He partially orchestrated the trade after reports that he was unhappy in Los Angeles surfaced. [cite news|title=After 99 trial balloons, Gretzky traded; Wayne gets his wish -- if Blues are indeed contenders|work=The Ottawa Citizen|page=B1|date=1996-02-28] At the time of the trade, the Blues and New York Rangers emerged as front-runners, but the Blues met his salary demands. [cite news|last=Hickey|first=Pat|date=1996-02-28|title=Gretzky's image suffers; Everyone's a big loser in this deal|work=The Gazette|page=E1] Gretzky was immediately named the team's captain. He scored 37 points in 31 games for the team in the regular season and the playoffs, and the Blues came within one game of the Conference Finals. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/playoffdisplay.php3?league=nhl1927&season=1996&leaguenm=NHL|title=1995-96 NHL Playoff Results|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-16] However, the chemistry that everyone expected with winger Brett Hull never developed, and coach Mike Keenan publicly criticized him. [cite news|last=Casey|first=Tom|date=1996-06-29|title=Gretzky gets top billing on big-name free-agent list: Senators continue talks with goalie Damian Rhodes|work=The Ottawa Citizen |page=G3] Gretzky rejected a three-year deal worth $15 million with the Blues, and on July 22, he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent, rejoining longtime Oilers teammate Mark Messier for a two-year $8 million (plus incentives) contract. [cite news|last=Duffy|first=Andrew|date=1996-07-22|title=Great One bound for Broadway: Gretzky signs deal with N.Y. Rangers|work=The Record|page=D1]

New York Rangers (1996–1999)

Gretzky ended his professional career with the New York Rangers, where he played his final three seasons and helped the team reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997. [cite news|last=Lapointe|first=Joe|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E6DE163AF935A15756C0A961958260|title=Rangers' Surprising Run Comes to a Finish|work=The New York Times|date=1997-05-26|accessdate=2008-04-16] The Rangers were defeated in the conference finals by the Philadelphia Flyers, despite Gretzky leading the Rangers in the playoffs with 10 goals and 10 assists. For the first time in his NHL career, Gretzky was not named captain, [cite news|last=Lapointe|first=Joe|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D06E5DA103FF936A35753C1A960958260|title=No C and No A for Gretzky. Just a Regular Blue Jersey.|work=The New York Times|date=1996-10-05|accessdate=2008-04-16] although he briefly wore the captain's 'C' in 1998 when captain Brian Leetch was injured and out of the lineup. [cite news|last=Lapointe|first=Joe|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9806E0DF163DF93BA35757C0A96E958260|title=Hockey; Rangers Waste Gretzky's Gifts Again|work=The New York Times|date=1998-04-08|accessdate=2008-04-16] After the 1996–97 season, Mark Messier signed a free agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks, ending the brief reunion of Messier and Gretzky after just one season. [cite news|last=Diamos|first=Jason|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E02E1D91F3AF932A05754C0A961958260|title=In Signing Messier, Canucks' Persistence Paid Off|work=The New York Times|date=1997-07-31|accessdate=2008-04-16] With Messier's departure from the Rangers, the spotlight was on Gretzky once again. The Rangers, however, did not return to the playoffs during the remainder of Gretzky's career. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/teamseasons.php?tid=48|title=New York Rangers (NHL)|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|accessdate=2008-04-17] .

In 1997, prior to his retirement, "The Hockey News" named a committee of 50 hockey experts (former NHL players, past and present writers, broadcasters, coaches, and hockey executives) to select and rank the 50 greatest players in NHL history. The experts voted Gretzky number one.

He participated in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. However, Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, and Ray Bourque were passed over for the captaincy in favour of the younger Eric Lindros. [cite news|last=Lapointe|first=Joe|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506E2D6153AF932A35751C0A96E958260|title=Nagano '98; Wearing C, for Canada|work=The New York Times|date=1998-02-01|accessdate=2008-04-17] Expectations were high for the Canadian team, but without the presence of Mario Lemieux (with whom Gretzky did well in the 1987 Canada Cup) and several other star Canadians due to injury, the team lost to the Czech Republic in the semi-finals. [cite news|last=Alexander|first=Rachel|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/longterm/olympics1998/sport/hockey/articles/olyhock21.htm|title=Hasek Stares Down Canada in Shootout, 2-1|work=The Washington Post|date=1998-02-21|accessdate=2008-04-17] There was some additional controversy when Gretzky was not selected by coach Marc Crawford for the decisive shootout. [cite news|last=Molinaro|first=John|url=http://www.cbc.ca/sports/columns/newsmakers/crawford_marc.html|title=Crawford leaves an uneven legacy|publisher=Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|date=2006-04-26|accessdate=2008-04-17] Team Canada then lost the bronze medal game 3–2 to Finland, [cite news|last=Nadel|first=Mike|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/longterm/olympics1998/sport/hockey/articles/bronze21.htm|title=Finland Stuns Canada, 3-2, to Win Bronze Medal|work=The Washington Post|date=1998-02-21|accessdate=2008-04-17] but Gretzky was said to have encouraged all of his teammates to attend the closing ceremony afterwards.

The 1998–99 season was his last season. He reached one milestone in this last season, breaking the professional total (regular season and playoffs) goal-scoring record of 1,071, which had been held by Gordie Howe. Gretzky was having difficulty scoring this season and finished with only nine goals, but his last goal brought his scoring total for his combined NHL/WHA career to 1,072. [Gretzky (1999), p. 216.] As the season wound down, there was media speculation that Gretzky would retire, but he refused to announce his retirement. His last NHL game in Canada was on 1999-04-15, a 2–2 tie with the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers' second-to-last game of the season. [cite news|last=Stevenson|first=Chris|url=http://www.ottawasun.ca/Sports/Greatest/2007/08/20/pf-4431081.html|title=One great moment|work=Ottawa Sun|date=2007-08-20|accessdate=2008-04-17] Following the contest, instead of the usual three stars announcement, Gretzky was named the game's only star. (Gretzky was named all three stars). [Gretzky (1999), p. 218.] It was only after this game, after returning to New York that Gretzky announced his retirement, before the Rangers' last game of the season. [Gretzky (1999), p. 220.]

The final game of Gretzky's career was a 2–1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 18, 1999 in Madison Square Garden. The national anthems in that game were adjusted to accommodate Gretzky's departure. In place of "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee", Bryan Adams sang "We're going to miss you, Wayne Gretzky".cite news|last=Brady|first=Erik|url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/gretzky/full38.htm|title=He loved 'every part of the game|work=USA Today|date=1999-04-19|accessdate=2008-04-10] "The Star-Spangled Banner", sung by John Amirante, was changed from "O'er the land of the free" to "O'er the land of Wayne Gretzky". [cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky/041899nyrpit.html|title=Gretzky Gets Assist in Finale|publisher=National Hockey League|date=1999-04-18|accessdate=2008-04-17] He scored his final point in this game, assisting on the lone New York goal scored by Brian Leetch. At the time of his retirement, Gretzky was the second-to-last WHA player still active in professional hockey, Mark Messier being the last.


Gretzky's basic athletic abilities were not considered impressive. He was 6ft (1.83 m) tall, weighing only convert|160|lb as an 18-year-old NHL rookie in 1979, and 185 pounds at the end of his career in 1999. At the beginning of Gretzky's NHL career, many critics opined that Gretzky was "too small, too wiry, and too slow to be a force in the NHL". [cite web|url=http://www.oilersheritage.com/history/big_players_waynegretzky.html|title=Wayne Gretzky—The Great One|publisher=OilersHeritage.com|accessdate=2007-04-02] On the other hand, his intelligence and reading of the game were unrivaled, and he could consistently anticipate where the puck was going to be and execute the right move at the right time. It was said that he "seems to have eyes in the back of his head" and had a knack of "rolling with a check". [cite news|url=http://archives.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/clips/1093-6030/|title=Ordinary guy with extraordinary talent|publisher=Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|date=1977-11-08|accessdate=2008-04-26]

Gretzky's skills were developed on a backyard rink at his home, with extraordinary dedication and the encouragement and teachings of his father Walter. Walter Gretzky had played Junior B hockey, but was slowed by chicken pox and failed in a tryout for the Junior A Toronto Marlboros, ending his playing career.MacGregor, Roy, in "Total Gretzky", p. 20.] Walter cultivated a love of hockey in his sons and provided them with a backyard rink and drills to enhance their skills. On the backyard rink, nicknamed the "Wally Coliseum", winter was total hockey immersion with Walter as mentor-teacher as well as teammate. According to Brent Gretzky, "It was definitely pressed on us, but we loved the game. Without the direction of the father, I don't know where I'd be." [MacGregor, Roy, in "Total Gretzky", p. 22.]

The rink itself was built so that Walter could keep an eye on his boys from the warmth of his kitchen, instead of watching them outdoors on a neighbourhood rink, as Wayne put in long hours on skates.Davidson, John (1999), "99: My Life In Pictures", p. 2.] Walter's drills were his own invention, but were ahead of their time in Canada. Wayne remarked that the Soviet National Team's practice drills, which impressed Canada in 1972, had nothing to offer him: "I'd been doing these drills since I was three. My dad was very smart."

Where Wayne differed was in the extraordinary commitment of time on the ice. In his autobiography, he wrote:

:"All I wanted to do in the winters was be on the ice. I'd get up in the morning, skate from 7:00 to 8:30, go to school, come home at 3:30, stay on the ice until my mom insisted I come in for dinner, eat in my skates, then go back out until 9:00. On Saturdays and Sundays we'd have huge games, but nighttime became my time. It was a sort of unwritten rule around the neighborhood that I was to be out there myself or with my dad." [Redmond (1993), pp. 12–13.]

Wayne would prod next-door neighbour Brian Rizzetto to play goal after sundown to practice his backhand.

Wayne's excellence at hockey was matched in baseball and lacrosse, which he played during the summer. At age 10, after scoring 196 goals in his hockey league, he scored 158 goals in lacrosse. [Redmond (1993), p. 14.] According to Wayne, lacrosse was where he learned to protect himself from hard body checking: "In those days you could be hit from behind in lacrosse, as well as cross-checked, so you had to learn how to roll body checks for self-protection." [Gretzky (1999), p. 27.] Wayne applied this skill to the NHL, avoiding checks to the point that it was claimed that there was an unwritten rule not to hit Gretzky.Gretzky (1990), p. 95.] Gretzky insisted that the skill was necessary for self-defense as he only weighed 170 pounds.

Gretzky became known for setting up behind the net, an area that was nicknamed "Gretzky's office" because of his skills there. [cite news|last=Sullivan|first=Tim|url=http://www.sptimes.com/2004/06/03/hockeyschool/graphic.shtml|title=Gretzky's office|work=St. Petersburg Times|accessdate=2008-04-23] He could pass to teammates like Luc Robitaille and Jari Kurri, or jump out quickly for a wrap-around shot. Gretzky became accustomed to the position after watching and studying Bobby Clarke play in that zone. [ cite web|url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=DbbWJHhzLVY|title=Legends of Hockey: Wayne Gretzky - A Biography|publisher=YouTube|accessdate=2008-01-03] In honour of that, for his last game there were two large "99"s painted on the ice behind the goal. [cite news|url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/gretzky/full35.htm|title=Gretzky bids farewell to hockey|work=USA Today|date=1999-04-18|accessdate=2007-01-26] Hall of Fame defenceman Bobby Orr said of Gretzky, "He passes better than anybody I've ever seen. And he thinks so far ahead." [cite journal|last=Swift|first=E. M.|url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1126259/index.htm|title=Greatness Confirmed|journal=Sports Illustrated|date=1982-12-27|accessdate=2008-04-23] Gretzky himself referred to it as having "... a feeling about where a teammate is going to be, a lot of times, I can turn and pass without looking."


Gretzky was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 22, 1999, becoming the tenth player to bypass the three-year waiting period. [cite journal|url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/hall_of_fame/news/1999/11/22/gretzky_hall_ap/index.html|title=Gretzky officially welcomed into Hockey Hall of Fame|journal=Sports Illustrated|date=1999-11-23|accessdate=2008-04-23] The Hall of Fame then announced that he would be the last player to do so. [cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net/html/ind99wg4.htm|title=Induction Showcase - Wayne Gretzky|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame|accessdate=2008-04-23] He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2000. [cite web|url=http://www.iihf.com/iihf-home/history/the-iihf/iihf-hall-of-fame.html|title=IIHF Hall of Fame|publisher=International Ice Hockey Federation|accessdate=2008-04-25] In addition, Gretzky's #99 was retired league-wide at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game. Edmonton honoured Gretzky by renaming the highway that passes by the Oilers arena, Capilano Drive, one of Edmonton's busiest, to "Wayne Gretzky Drive" in October 1999. [cite web|url=http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/1999/10/01/gretzky991001.html|title=Edmonton pays tribute to Wayne Gretzky|publisher=CBC News|date=1999-10-01|accessdate=2008-05-01] In 2002, the Kings held a jersey retirement ceremony and erected a life-sized statue of Gretzky outside the Staples Center. [cite news|url=http://espn.go.com/nhl/news/2002/1009/1443724.html|title=Gretzky jersey ceremony turns into L.A. lovefest|publisher=ESPN.com|date=2002-10-11|accessdate=2008-04-27] His hometown of Brantford, Ontario, renamed Park Road to "Wayne Gretzky Parkway". [cite web|title=Famous Local Sportsmen|publisher=Brantford Public Library|url=http://www.brantford.library.on.ca/genealogy/famoussports.php|accessdate=2008-05-01]

Phoenix Coyotes

Almost immediately after retirement, several NHL teams approached him about an ownership role. [cite news |title=Gretzky turns down offers ; Six NHL teams court him for ownership role| last=Campbell |first=Kent |work=Toronto Star |location=Toronto |page=1] In May 2000, he agreed to buy a 10% stake in the Phoenix Coyotes in a partnership with majority owner Steve Ellman, taking on the roles of alternate governor, managing partner and head of hockey operations.cite news |work=The Province |page=A81 |title=Great One saves hockey in Phoenix |last=Gallagher |first=Tony |date=2000-05-28] The Coyotes were in the process of being sold and Ellman convinced Gretzky to come on board, averting a potential move to Portland, Oregon. The sale was not completed until the following year, on February 15, 2001, after two missed deadlines while securing financing and partners before Ellman and Gretzky could take over. The sale completed with the addition to the partnership of Jerry Moyes. [cite news |title=Gretzky era begins: The Great One, Ellman complete purchase of Coyotes |work=The Gazette| location=Montreal|page=C12 |date=February 16, 2001] Gretzky convinced his long-time agent Michael Barnett to join the team as its General Manager. [cite news |work=Calgary Herald |page=E2 |date=August 29, 2001 |title=Barnett joins Gretzky in desert: Former agent new GM in Phoenix]

In 2005, rumours began regarding Gretzky becoming the head coach of the team, but were nixed by Gretzky and the rest of the Coyotes' ownership. [cite news|author=Sports Desk|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9801E2D91E3CF930A35755C0A9669C8B63|title=Plus: N.H.L.—Phoenix; Gretzky's Role To Be Limited|work=New York Times |date=2000-06-03 |accessdate=2008-04-10] Despite previous denials, on August 8 2005, Gretzky agreed to become the new coach of the Coyotes. [cite news|url=http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2005/08/08/gretzky-phoenix050808.html|title=Gretzky to coach Phoenix Coyotes|publisher=Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|date=2005-08-08|accessdate=2008-04-25] Gretzky made his coaching debut on October 5, 2005, the opening night of the 2005–06 NHL season, losing 3–2 to the Vancouver Canucks. [cite news |url=http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=138883|title=Canucks spoil Great One's coaching debut |publisher=Associated Press |date=2005-10-06 |accessdate=2008-04-25] His first coaching victory was October 8, 2005, beating the Minnesota Wild 2–1. [cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?service=page&page=Recap&gameNumber=37&season=20052006&gameType=2|title=Minnesota Wild 1, Phoenix Coyotes 2 Final |publisher=National Hockey League |date=2005-10-08 |accessdate=2008-04-25] Gretzky took an indefinite leave of absence as coach on December 17, 2005, to care for his ill mother in Brantford, Ontario. His mother lost her battle to lung cancer two days later, passing away on December 19, 2005. [cite news|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=2265795|title='Toughest' of the Gretzkys, Phyllis dies at 64 |publisher=ESPN.com |date=2005-12-20|accessdate=2008-04-25] Assistant coach Rick Tocchet assumed the position until Gretzky's return on December 28. [cite news |url=http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2005/12/28/wayne-gretzky051228.html |title=Gretzky to return to Coyotes Wednesday |publisher=Canadian Broadcasting Corporation |date=2005-12-28 |accessdate=2008-04-27]

In 2006, the Coyotes ownership partnership changed, with an agreement for Moyes to take over majority ownership of the team, and Ellman to take over the majority ownership of the Glendale Arena and Westgate development. [cite news|title=NHL approves ownership moves for St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes |location=Toronto |work=National Post |date=2006-06-22|page=B10] A period of uncertainty ensued about Gretzky's role [cite news |title=Gretzky ponders his future amid ownership shuffle |last=Bagnato |first=Andrew |location=Toronto |work=The Globe and Mail |date=2006-04-14 |page=S4] until Coyotes' new CEO Jeff Shumway announced on May 31, 2006 that Gretzky had agreed to a new five-year contract to remain as head coach. [cite news|url=http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=167404|title=Gretzky returns with five-year extension|publisher=The Sports Network|date=2006-05-31|accessdate=2008-04-27] He remains a minority owner and managing partner. Although the Coyotes still have a general manager (first Barnett, then Don Maloney), Gretzky has the final say in hockey matters.

Winter Olympics

Gretzky was Executive Director of the Canadian men's hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. On February 18, he lashed out at the media at a press conference, frustrated with media and fan comments regarding his team's uninspiring 1–1–1 start.cite news|title=It's us against the world, emotional Gretzky says; The Great One even lashes out against 'American propaganda'|work=The Record|page=D1|date=2002-02-19] His temper boiled over after Canada's 3–3 draw versus the Czech Republic, as he launched a tirade against the perceived negative reputation of Team Canada amongst other national squads, and called rumours of dissent in the dressing room the result of "American propaganda". "They're loving us not doing well," he said, referring to American hockey fans. American fans online began calling Gretzky a "crybaby"; defenders said he was merely borrowing a page from former coach Glen Sather to take the pressure off his players. Gretzky addressed those comments by saying he spoke out to protect the Canadian players, and the tirade was not "staged". [cite news|last=Scanlan|first=Wayne|date=2002-02-20|title=Gretzky: No regrets: The Canadian hockey team boss says he spoke out, loudly, to 'protect' his players|work=The Ottawa Citizen|page=C1] The Canadian team won the gold medal, its first in 50 years. [cite journal|url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/olympics/2002/ice_hockey/news/2002/02/24/usa_canada_ap|title=Stand on guard for thee|journal=Sports Illustrated|date=2002-02-25|accessdate=2008-04-27]

Gretzky again acted as Executive Director of Canada's men's hockey team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, though not with the success of 2002; the team was eliminated in the quarterfinals and failed to win a medal. [cite web|url=http://www.torino.olympics.com.au/news.cfm?ArticleID=6443|title=Gretzky moved to tears as Russia beats Canada 2-0|publisher=Australian Olympic Committee|date=2006-02-23|accessdate=2008-04-27] He was asked to manage Canada's team at the 2005 Ice Hockey World Championships, but declined due to his mother's poor health. [cite news|url=http://www.tsn.ca/canadian_hockey/story/?id=119130|title=Statement from Wayne Gretzky|publisher=The Sports Network|date=2005-03-21|accessdate=2008-04-27]

Heritage Classic

Although Gretzky had previously stated he would not participate in any old-timers exhibition games, [cite news|url=http://espn.go.com/nhl/news/2003/0603/1562539.html|title=Oilers will play Canadiens in outdoor game|publisher=ESPN.com|date=2003-06-03|accessdate=2008-04-29] on November 22 2003 he took to the ice one last time to help celebrate the Edmonton Oilers' 25th anniversary as an NHL team. The Heritage Classic, held at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, was the first NHL game to be played outdoors.cite web|last=Roarke|first=Shawn P.|url=http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=345357|title=Canadiens hold off Oilers in nightcap|publisher=National Hockey League|date=2003-11-22|accessdate=2008-04-29] It was preceded by the Mega Stars game, which featured Gretzky and many of his Oiler Dynasty teammates against a group of retired Montreal Canadiens players, including Claude Lemieux and Guy Lafleur. Despite frigid temperatures, the crowd numbered 57,167, with an additional several million watching the game on television. [cite news|last=Yario|first=Kara|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_48_227/ai_110963043|title=On frozen pond|publisher=The Sporting News|date=2003-12-01|accessdate=2008-04-26] The Edmonton alumni won the Megastars game 2–0, [cite web|last=Roarke|first=Shawn P.|url=http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=345355|title=Oilers blank Habs in MegaStars game|publisher=National Hockey League|date=2003-11-22|accessdate=2008-04-29] while Montreal went on to win the regular season game held later that day, 4–3. The game was subsequently released on DVD entitled "Heritage Classic: A November to Remember". [cite web|url=http://www.amazon.ca/NHL-Heritage-Classic-November-Remember/dp/B0001EYLHS|title=NHL Heritage Classic: A November to Remember|publisher=Amazon.com|accessdate=2008-04-29]

Off the ice

Gretzky has made several TV appearances, including a "Dance Fever" celebrity judge, and a 'forgettable appearance', acting in a dramatic role "The Young and The Restless" in 1981. [Raymond (1993), p. 93.] In 1984, he travelled to the Soviet Union to film a television program on Russian goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. [Raymond (1993), p. 94.] Gretzky hosted the "Saturday Night Live" comedy program in 1989. [Taylor (1994), p. 120.] A fictional crime-fighting version of him served as one of the main characters in the cartoon ProStars in 1991. [cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149510/ |title=ProStars |publisher=IMdB|accessdate=2008-05-27] [cite web |url=http://www.dicentertainment.com/shows/index.php?show=92&category=ActionComedy |title=DIC Show Catalog |publisher=DIC Entertainment|accessdate=2008-05-27] Gretzky has made over 40 movie, network television and video appearances as himself, according to IMDB, as of May 1 2008. [cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002115/ |title=Wayne Gretzky |publisher=IMdB|accessdate=2008-05-01]


It was when Gretzky was celebrity judge on 'Dance Fever' that he met his future wife, American actress Janet Jones, a contestant on the show.Gretzky (1990), p. 140.] According to Wayne, Janet does not recall him being on the show. They met regularly after that, but did not become a couple until 1987 when they ran into each other at a Los Angeles Lakers game that Wayne and Alan Thicke were attending. [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/2005/09/14/gallery.celebrities/content.4.html Power Couples] , "Sports Illustrated", September 14, 2005, Retrieved on February 7, 2006.] They went out for dinner together and saw each other regularly, and Wayne proposed in January 1988. [Gretzky (1990), p. 145.] In March, Janet became pregnant with their first child, Paulina.Gretzky (1990), p. 148.]

Wayne and Janet were married on July 17, 1988.Jones, Terry, [http://web.archive.org/web/20040930001254/http://www.slam.canoe.ca/GretzkyRetires/apr19_99edm_bio5.html The Royal Wedding] , "Edmonton Sun", April 19, 1999, Retrieved on April 14, 2008.] "The Royal Wedding" was broadcast live throughout Canada from Edmonton's St. Joseph's Basilica, although neither Gretzky nor Jones are Roman Catholic. Members of the Fire Department acted as guards at the church steps. The event reportedly cost Gretzky over US$1 million. [McRae, Earl, [http://www.ottawasun.com/News/Columnists/McRae_Earl/2006/02/10/1434686.html The many faces of Miss Jones] , "The Ottawa Sun", February 10, 2006, Retrieved on April 29, 2008.] Gretzky obtained American citizenship after the wedding, and has since resided in the United States. [ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1048585693197_256/?hub=TopStories Gretzky says he backs Bush on U.S.-Iraq war] , CTV Television Network, March 25, 2003, Retrieved on March 2, 2008.] Eddie Mio was best man, and Alan Thicke was master of ceremonies. As wedding presents, Thicke gave them the cushions to the seats they sat in when they first went for dinner together. Wayne gave Janet a Rolls-Royce Corniche automobile.

Janet and Wayne have five children: Paulina, (born December 19 1988), Ty Robert (born July 9, 1990), Trevor Douglas (born September 14, 1992), Tristan Wayne (born August 2 2000), and Emma Marie (born March 28, 2003). Ty now plays for Shattuck-Saint Mary's Midget AA hockey team, the same school that produced Sidney Crosby. [ [http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/160706 Tied by great expectations] , "Toronto Star" via "New York Times News Service", December 18, 2006, Retrieved on July 18, 2007.]

Business ventures

Gretzky has owned or partnered in the ownership of two sports teams before becoming a partner in the Phoenix Coyotes. In 1985, Gretzky bought the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for $175,000 CA. [cite news |work=The Montreal Gazette |date=March 8, 1985 |title=Gretzky buys Hull juniors|page = C9] During his ownership, the team's colors were changed to silver and black, presaging the change in team jersey colors when he played for the Los Angeles Kings. For the first season that Gretzky played in Los Angeles, the Kings had their training camp at the Olympiques' arena. [cite news |title=Gretzky brings Kings to Hull |last=Morrissey |first=Bob |work=Montreal Gazette |date=September 12, 1989 |page=F1] Gretzky eventually sold the team in 1992 for $550,000 CA. [cite news|title=JUNIOR HOCKEY; Gretzky sells his team; There will be at least another three Olympiques years in Hull; Senators want to train in Hull, but Henry not big on idea|page= E3 |date=May 15, 1992 |last=Warren |first=Ken |last2=Mayoh |first2=Rick |work=Ottawa Citizen]

In 1991, Gretzky purchased the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League with Bruce McNall and John Candy. The club won the Grey Cup championship in the first year of the partnership but struggled in the two following seasons, and the partnership sold the team before the 1994 season. Only McNall's name was engraved on the Grey Cup as team owner, but in November 2007, the CFL corrected the oversight, adding Gretzky's and Candy's names. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/story/2007/05/29/gretzky-greycup.html Gretzky, Candy to get names etched on Grey Cup] , Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, May 29, 2007, Retrieved on April 14, 2008.] In 1992, Gretzky and McNall partnered in an investment to buy a rare Honus Wagner T206 cigarette card for $500,000 US, later selling the card. It most recently sold for $2.8 million US. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/story/2007/09/06/mlb-memorabilia-wagner.html Honus Wagner card sells for record $2.8M] , Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, September 6, 2007, Retrieved on April 29, 2008.]

As of May 2008, Gretzky's current business ventures include the "Wayne Gretzky's" restaurant in Toronto near the football stadium in downtown Toronto, opened in partnership with John Bitove in 1993. [cite web|title=Canadian Hockey Foundation Board of Directors |publisher=Hockey Canada |url=http://www.hockeycanada.ca/6/7/8/6/index1.shtml |accessdate=2008-05-01] Gretzky is also a partner in First Team Sports, a maker of sports equipment and Worldwide Roller Hockey, Inc., an operator of roller hockey rinks. [cite web |url=http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1SEC695919 |publisher=The Canadian Encyclopedia |title=The Gretzky Portfolio |accessdate=2008-05-05] He has endorsed and launched a wide variety of products, from pillow cases to insurance. [Richler, Mordecai, [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20F17FA3E5D0C7A8EDDA00894DD484D81 King of the New Canada] , "The New York Times", September 29, 1985, Retrieved on April 17, 2008.] [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/1999/09/21/gretzkytyl990921.html Gretzky talks about Tylenol headache] , Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, November 10, 2000, Retrieved on April 17, 2008.] Forbes estimates that Gretzky earned US$93.8 million from 1990–98.

Gambling controversy

On February 7, 2006, Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet was charged for operating an illegal New Jersey-based gambling ring. [cite news|last=Westhead|first=Rick|coauthors=Ken Campbell|date=2006-02-08|title=Gambling allegations shake hockey world; 'OPERATION SLAPSHOT' Phoenix assistant coach Rick Tocchet faces charges in what U.S. authorities say is an illegal betting ring; Betting ring alleged|work=Toronto Star|page=A01] Bets were allegedly taken from NHL players, Janet Gretzky and Coyotes GM Michael Barnett, who confirmed to police he placed a bet on Super Bowl XL with Tocchet. [cite news |title=Gretzky's wife to make trip to Turin; NHL boss closely monitors probe into alleged gambling ring financed by Tocchet |work=The Record |page=E02 |date=2006-02-11] Gretzky stated: "I did nothing wrong, or nothing that has to do with anything along the lines of betting; that never happened ... I'll say it one more time: I didn't bet, didn't happen, not going to happen, never will happen, hasn't happened, not something I've done." [ cite news |url=http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=2325295|title=Gretzky, wife address gambling ring allegations |publisher=ESPN.com |date=2006-02-10|accessdate=2006-02-11] Reports by the "Newark Star-Ledger" stated that the New Jersey State Police possessed wiretaps with Gretzky speaking to Tocchet. Sources told the paper there was no evidence Gretzky made any bets, but police were attempting to learn if he placed any through his wife. [cite news|last=Hepp|first=Rick|title=Gretzky talked about betting ring on wiretap |work=Newark Star-Ledger |date=2006-02-09] Another source later confirmed that the wiretap occurred after police went to Gretzky's house to question Jones. [cite news|url=http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/11316003|title=Timing of wiretap supports Gretzky's claim|publisher=NBC Sports|date=2006-02-13|accessdate=2008-04-10] It was announced on 2006-02-16 that Gretzky would not be charged nor was it likely his wife would be charged. [cite news|last=Della Santi|first=Angela|coauthors=Beth DeFalco|title=Gretzky, wife won't be charged criminally, lawyers say|publisher=Associated Press Newswire|date=2006-02-16] Tocchet brought an end to the case by pleading guilty to the gambling charges on May 2, 2007. [cite news |work=Winnipeg Free Press |page=D3 |date=2007-05-26 |title=Tocchet betting guilty plea pays off] Gretzky and Jones were never charged with any wrong-doing.


*June 12, 1978 – Signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Racers

*November 2, 1978 – Traded by the Indianapolis Racers, along with Eddie Mio and Peter Driscoll, to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for $700,000 and future considerations.

*August 9, 1988 – Traded by the Edmonton Oilers, along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley, to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, Los Angeles's 1989, 1991, and 1993 first round draft choices, and cash.

*February 27, 1996 – Traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif, St. Louis's 1996 third round draft choice, and 1997 first round draft choice.

*July 21, 1996 – Signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers.

Source: cite web |url=http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=PlayerDetail&playerId=8447400 |publisher=NHL |accessdate=2008-05-05|title=Players: Wayne Gretzky


Playing career

Figures in "boldface italics" are NHL records.

"GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalty Minutes; +/– = Plus/Minus; PP = Powerplay Goals; SH = Shorthanded Goals; GW = Game-Winning Goals"Source: cite web |url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid=2035 |title=hockeydb.com: Wayne Gretzky's profile |accessdate=2008-05-05|publisher=hockeydb.com

ee also

*List of career achievements by Wayne Gretzky
*List of NHL players with 500 goals
*List of NHL statistical leaders



*Citation|last=Surgent|first=Scott|title=The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association: 1972-1979|isbn=0964477440|publisher=Xaler Press|date=2004

External links

* [http://www.gretzky.com/ Wayne Gretzky - The Official Homepage]
* [http://www.nhl.com/history/gretzky.html NHL.com Wayne Gretzky section]
* [http://www.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky/ Wayne Gretzky] on [http://www.nhl.com NHL.com]

NAME=Gretzky, Wayne Douglas
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Professional hockey player
DATE OF BIRTH=January 26, 1961
PLACE OF BIRTH=Brantford, Ontario, Canada

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