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Wayne Gretzky

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Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky1221
Position Centre
Shot middle
Height
Weight
6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
185 lb (84 kg)
Teams WHA
 Indianapolis Racers
 Edmonton Oilers
NHL
 Edmonton Oilers
 Los Angeles Kings
 St. Louis Blues
 New York Rangers
Nationality Canadian
Born January 26 1961 (1961-01-26) (age 53),
Brantford,Ontario
Pro Career 19781999
Hall of Fame, 1999

Wayne Douglas Gretzky, (born January 26, 1961 in Brantford, Ontario) is a retired Canadian-American professional ice hockey.

Nicknamed "The Great One," Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the NHL calls Gretzky "the greatest player of all time."[1] He is generally regarded as the best player in history and has been called "the greatest hockey player ever" by many sportswriters,[2][3] players,[4] and coaches. He set 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, 6 All-Star records, won four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, and won 9 MVP awards and 10 scoring titles. He is the only player ever to total over 200 points in a season (a feat that he accomplished four times in his career). In addition, he tallied over 100 points a season for 15 NHL seasons, 13 of them consecutively. He is the only player to have his number, 99, officially retired by the National Hockey League for all teams – no player in the NHL will ever again wear the number 99.

He retired from playing in 1999, becoming Executive Director for the Canadian national men's hockey team during the 2002 Winter Olympics. He also became part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2000 and following the 2004-05 NHL lockout became their head coach.

Gretzkyhowe

The young Gretzky with his hero Gordie Howe.

Early yearsEdit

Gretzky's paternal grandparents were ethnic Belarussian immigrants who came to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century from the town of Mogilev in Russia (now Belarus). 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 as a dedication to his heritage.[5] Wayne's father Walter turned the Gretzky backyard into a rink by leaving a water sprinkler running all winter; Walter taught Wayne and his brothers Keith, Brent, and Glenn to play hockey. In an unusually-frank 1990 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gretzky related how Walter would build him up one minute then tear him down the next, reminding him that he could never have an "average" game. Wayne was a classic prodigy whose extraordinary skills made him the target of jealous parents.[6]

Gretzky always played at a level far above his peers.[7] At age 6 he was skating with 10-year-olds. By the age of ten he scored 378 goals and 139 assists in just 85 games with the Nadrofsky Steelers. The first media story about him was published during this time in the Toronto Telegram. At 14, partly to further Wayne's career, and partly to remove him from the uncomfortable pressure he faced in his hometown, the Gretzkys challenged the Canadian amateur hockey rules to win Wayne the right to play elsewhere, which was disallowed at the time. The Gretzkys won, and Wayne moved to Toronto to play 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. In addition, he signed with his first agent, Bob Behnke.

Despite his celebrity, Gretzky was bypassed by two teams in the 1977 OHA Midget Draft. Oshawa picked Tom McCarthy, and Niagara Falls picked Steve Peters second overall. With the third pick, the Greyhounds selected Gretzky. The Greyhounds took him, even though Walter Gretzky had written the team to advise that Wayne would not move to Sault Ste. Marie, a city with a northern Ontario location that inflicts a heavy traveling schedule on its junior team. He played a season in the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 16 with the Greyhounds. While playing for the Greyhounds, he began wearing the number 99 on his jersey. He originally wanted to wear number 9 — for his old hero Gordie Howe — but it was already being worn by his teammate, Brian Gualazzi. At coach Muzz MacPherson's suggestion, Gretzky settled on 99.[8]

He became the youngest player to compete in the World Junior Championships when he participated in Montreal in 1978 at age 16.[9] Despite being the youngest player in the tournament by far, he finished as the tournament's top scorer, and was voted to the All-Star team and Best Forward of the tournament.[10]

World Hockey AssociationEdit

That year (1978-79) he signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association (WHA) as an underage player. Prior to signing with Indianapolis, Gretzky was heavily recruited by Birmingham Bulls owner John F. Bassett. [11] 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. The National Hockey League (NHL) does not allow the signing of players under the age of 18, but the WHA had no rules regarding such signings. Wayne Gretzky scored his first professional goal against Dave Dryden of the Edmonton Oilers. [12]

Racers owner Nelson Skalbania signed the 17-year-old to an eight-year personal services contract worth between $1.12- and $1.75-million US over one to two years. Skalbania knew that the WHA was fading and that the Racers could not hope to be included among any teams taken in by the NHL. He 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.

However, Skalbania needed money. He sold Gretzky to his brother, and then-owner of the WHA's Edmonton Oilers, Peter Gretzky. Although the announced price was $990,000, Pocklington actually paid $700,000 to purchase Gretzky as well as two other Indianapolis players, goaltender Eddie Mio and forward Peter Driscoll. [12]

One of the highlights of Gretzky’s season was when he appeared in the 1979 WHA All-Star Game. The format of the game was a three game series between the WHA All-Stars against Moscow Dynamo. The WHA All-Stars were coached by Jacques Demers and Demers put Gretzky on a line with his boyhood idol Gordie Howe and his son Mark Howe. [13] In Game One, the line scored seven points, as the WHA All-Star won by a score of 4-2. [13] In game two, Gretzky and Mark Howe each scored a goal and Gordie Howe picked up an assist as the WHA won 4-2. [13] The line did not score in the final game but the WHA won by a score of 4-3.

Gretzky would finish third in the league in scoring behind Robbie Ftorek and Buddy Cloutier. [14] Gretzky helped the Edmonton Oilers to the Avco Cup finals against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets goalie was Gary Smith, a teammate of Gretzky while playing for the Indianapolis Racers. [15] Ironically, when Bob Mackenzie went to his first game at Maple Leaf Gardens, Gary Smith was one of the goalies in the game. [16] The Maple Leafs played the California Seals and Smith was the Seals' goalie.

On Gretzky's 18th birthday, January 26, 1979, Pocklington signed him to a 20-year personal services contract (the longest in hockey history) worth $4-5 million US. Gretzky captured the Lou Kaplan Trophy for rookie of the year, finished third in league scoring (110 points), and helped the Oilers to first overall in the league. The Oilers reached the Avco World Trophy finals before losing to the Winnipeg Jets. It was Gretzky's only year in the WHA, as the league folded following the season. The one award Gretzky never received in the NHL was the one he earned in the WHA: Gretzky was awarded the WHA Rookie of the Year award in its final season. [12]

NHL careerEdit

After the World Hockey Association folded in 1979, the Edmonton Oilers and three other teams[17] joined the NHL. 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.[18]

Edmonton Oilers (1979-1988)Edit

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, 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). 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 professional experience. Instead, Boston Bruins' defenseman Ray Bourque won it. The rule was later changed.

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. 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. 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. That year, Gretzky became the first hockey player and first Canadian to be named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. He was also named Sports Illustrated Magazine's 1982 "Sportsman of the Year."

The following seasons saw Gretzky break his own assists record three more times (125 1982-83, 135 1984-85, and 163 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). 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 their last WHA season first overall in the 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. 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. 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. 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, seven months and two Governors-General before he could accept the honour. The Oilers, with Gretzky, also won the Cup in 1985, 1987, and 1988; and without him in 1990 with Mark Messier as captain.

"The Trade" - Los Angeles Kings (1988-1996)Edit

On August 9, 1988, in a move that drastically changed the dynamics of the NHL, the Oilers traded Gretzky, along with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski, to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash, and the Kings' first-round draft picks in 1989 (Jason Soules), 1991 (Tyler Wright), and 1993 (Jason Arnott). "The Trade", as it came to be known,[19] upset Canadians to the extent that New Democratic Party House Leader Nelson Riis demanded that the government block it[20] and Pocklington was burned in effigy. 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.[21] Others believe it was Pocklington who instigated the trade, seeking to benefit personally from the transaction.

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, who then played their home games at the Great Western Forum, named Gretzky their captain (a position he held until his trade to St. Louis in 1996) and boasted numerous sellouts on their way to reaching the 1989 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. 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. Many credit Gretzky's arrival with putting non-traditional U.S. hockey markets on "the NHL map"; not only did California receive two more NHL franchises (the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the 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 U.S. Sun Belt.[22] In 1990, the Associated Press named him Male Athlete of the Decade.

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. 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, however, the team lost the next three games in overtime, and then fell 1–4 in the deciding fifth game where Gretzky failed to get a shot on net. 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. 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.

St. Louis Blues (1996)Edit

On February 27, 1996 he joined the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, and draft picks. He scored 37 points in 31 games for the team in both the regular season and the playoffs, and the Blues came within one overtime game of the Conference finals. He also served as the team's captain in his short tenure with the Blues. However, he never clicked with the team or with his new right-winger, “The Golden Brett” Hull, on the ice as well as many had expected. On July 12, he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent, rejoining longtime Oilers teammate Mark Messier.

New York Rangers (1996-1999)Edit

Wgretz

Wayne Gretzky in a New York Rangers uniform in 1997

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. The Rangers were defeated in the conference finals by the Philadelphia Flyers. For the first time in his NHL career, Gretzky was not named captain; during his stint with the Rangers he briefly wore the captain's 'C' when captain Mark Messier and alternate captain Brian Leetch were injured and out of the lineup at the same time. 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. With Messier's departure from the Rangers, the spotlight was on Gretzky once again.

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. 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. There was some additional controversy when Gretzky was not selected by coach Marc Crawford for the decisive shootout. Team Canada then lost the bronze medal game 3-2 to Finland, but Gretzky was said to have encouraged all of his teammates to attend the closing ceremony afterwards.

GretzkyFinal

Wayne Gretzky's Farewell Game at Madison Square Garden

His last NHL game in Canada was on April 16, 1999, in a 2-2 tie with the Ottawa Senators, and his final game was a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins which had Jaromir Jagr, the future Ranger captain, scoring the game winning goal on April 18, 1999 in the 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".[23] The Star-Spangled Banner, sung by John Amirante, was changed from "the land of the free" to "the land of Wayne Gretzky". He scored his final point in this game, assisting on the lone New York goal scored by Brian Leetch. Gretzky was named as the first, second, and third star of both games. Only Maurice Richard has had such an honour, when during the Stanley Cup Playoffs on March 23, 1944, he scored five dominating goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. His Montreal Canadiens won 5-1.

At the time of his retirement, Gretzky was the second-to-last WHA player still active in professional hockey, Mark Messier being the last.

SkillsEdit

Gretzky's dominance throughout his career was attributed to the amount of time he practiced (by his own account, at least 4-5 hours a day) and also that he was a natural prodigy. At 16, Gretzky's skills were already described as "a magic touch,"; he had a good shot, moved the puck very well, never quit, and played "both ways" (defence as well as offence). He was described as a player that any team could build their hockey club around, which is perhaps exemplified by the immediate impact he had on the Los Angeles Kings upon joining them.

In terms of basic athletic abilities, Gretzky was not impressive. Gretzky was 6 feet tall, weighing only 160 pounds as an eighteen year old NHL rookie in 1979 and ending his career in 1999 at 185 pounds. At the beginning of Gretzky's NHL career, many critics at the time opined that Gretzky was "too small, too wiry, and too slow to be a force in the (NHL)".[24] On the other hand, he had no rival in his intelligence and reading of the game, being able to anticipate where the puck was going to be and execute the right move at the right time.[2]. It was said that he "seems to have eyes in the back of his head" and had a knack of "rolling with a check."[25]

By the time of his retirement, Gretzky had become known for setting up behind the net, which acquired the nickname of "Gretzky's office" because "he went to work there," passing to teammates like Luc Robitaille or Kurri or jumping out quickly for a wrap-around goal. In honour of that, for his last game there were two large "99s" painted on the ice behind the goal [26] No less an expert than Bobby Orr said he "thinks so far ahead," while 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."[27]

Post-retirementEdit

Gretzky was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 22, 1999, becoming the tenth player to bypass the three-year waiting period. The NHL then stated that he would be the last player to do so. He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2000. In addition Gretzky's #99 was retired league-wide at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game. Later that year, he became Alternate Governor and Managing Partner of the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team. Rumours began regarding Gretzky becoming the head coach of the team, but were nixed by Gretzky and the rest of the Coyotes' ownership.[28] Despite previous denials however, on August 8 2005 Gretzky agreed to become the new coach of the Coyotes.

In the time leading up to Gretzky's announcement, several prominent free agents signed with Phoenix citing the chance to play for Gretzky, including Brett Hull. Hull, who was briefly Gretzky's right winger, only lasted five games and only scored one assist before retiring. Ironically, "The Golden Brett" would have had the record for the most goals over any given three seasons — he scored 228 goals between 1989-90 and 1991-92 — if it weren't for The Great One. From 1981-82 to 1983-84, Gretzky scored 250 goals.

Gretzkystatue

A statue of Wayne Gretzky outside Staples Center

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. His first coaching victory was October 8, 2005, beating the Minnesota Wild 2-1. 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. Assistant coach Rick Tocchet assumed the position until Gretzky's return on December 28. Coyotes' CEO Jeff Shumway announced on June 5, 2006 that Gretzky has agreed to a new five-year contract to remain as head coach.

Additionally, since Gretzky's retirement, a statue has been erected outside Staples Center, home of his former Los Angeles Kings, in his honor, as well as another statue outside Rexall Place home of his Edmonton Oilers.

Winter OlympicsEdit

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 speculation regarding his team's uninspiring 1-1-1 start. His temper boiled over after Canada's 3-3 draw vs. 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. Canada went on to win the gold medal.

Gretzky again acted as Executive Director of Canada's men's hockey team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, though not to the success of 2002; the team was eliminated in the quarterfinals and failed to win a medal. He was asked to manage Canada's team at the 2005 Ice Hockey World Championships, but declined due to his mother's poor health.

The Heritage ClassicEdit

Although Gretzky previously stated he would not participate in any old-timers exhibition games, 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. It was preceded by the Mega Stars game, which featured Gretzky and many of his Edmonton Oilers teammates against a group of retired Montreal Canadiens players including Claude Lemieux and Guy Lafleur. Despite frigid temperatures, the crowd numbered 57,167 (an NHL record), with an additional several million watching the game on television.[29] The Edmonton alumni won the Megastars game 2-0, 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.

Off the iceEdit

Gretzky met American actress Janet Jones in 1984 when he was a judge on Dance Fever and she was a dancer on the show. They ran into each other at a Los Angeles Lakers game in 1987.[30] On Howard Stern's 22 October 1996 show, Gretzky revealed that he and Janet consummated their relationship that night (Stern remarked: "That's why they call you 'The Great One'".)

Janet was four months pregnant with Paulina when they married on July 17, 1988.[31] "The Royal Wedding" was broadcast live throughout Canada from Edmonton's St. Joseph's Basilica, although neither Gretzky nor Jones is Roman Catholic. Members of the Fire Department acted as guards at the church steps. The event reportedly cost Gretzky over US$1 million. They have 4 other children: Ty Robert (b. July 9, 1990), Trevor Douglas (b. September 14, 1992), Tristan Wayne (b. August 2 2000), and Emma Marie (b. March 28, 2003). Gretzky obtained American citizenship after the wedding. Ty plays for Shattuck-Saint Mary's Midget AA hockey team, the same school that produced Sidney Crosby. [32]

Gretzky hosted Saturday Night Live in 1989. In 1991 Gretzky purchased the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL with Bruce McNall and John Candy. He and McNall later bought one of the Honus Wagner T206 cigarette cards. In November 2007, Wayne Gretzky and John Candy's names were added to the 1991 Grey Cup as team owners.

Once Gretzky retired, one of Edmonton's busiest inner city highway's that passes by the Oilers arena, Capilano Drive, was renamed to "Wayne Gretzky Drive" in October of 1999. Similarly, most of Park Road in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario, is now "Wayne Gretzky Parkway".

He has endorsed a wide variety of products, including denim jeans, his own line of wallpaper, pillow cases, cereal, chocolate bars, clocks, lunch boxes and a Mattel doll.[33] Other endorsements include Koho, Titan, and Easton hockey sticks, Thrifty Rent A Car, Peak Antifreeze, Ford-Canada, Coca-Cola, Esso, McDonald's, Domino's Pizza, Campbell's Soup, the Official All-Star Café, Primestar TV, Upper Deck, Nike, Ultra Wheels, Hallmark Cards, Zürich Insurance, 7 Up, Tylenol, Canadian Imperial Bank, and Power Automotive Group. He and Ty did commercials for the Sharp Viewcam.[34] Gretzky also lent his likeness (along with Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson) to a 1992 cartoon show, ProStars,[35] and video games in 1991, 1996, 2004, and 2006. Forbes estimates that Gretzky earned US$93.8 million from 1990-98. In 1998, Gretzky launched a line of menswear,[36] and signed a licensing agreement with a phone card company. The model of helmet that Gretzky wore, the Jofa VM, is known as the "Gretzky helmet". Gretzky is featured in several lines of McFarlane NHL Sports Picks figures created by Edmonton Oilers co-owner Todd McFarlane.[37]

Gambling controversyEdit

On February 7, 2006, Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet was implicated in a New Jersey-based gambling ring. Bets were allegedly taken from NHL players, Janet Jones and Coyotes GM Michael Barnett, who confirmed to police he placed a bet on Super Bowl XL with Tocchet. 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."[38] 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 is no evidence Gretzky made any bets, but police were attempting to learn if he placed any through his wife.[39] Another source later confirmed that the wiretap occurred after police went to Gretzky's house to question Jones.[40] It was announced on February 16, 2006 that Gretzky would not be charged nor would it be likely his wife would be charged.[41]

On March 15, 2006, the New Jersey attorney general announced it will subpoena Jones to testify as soon as a grand jury convenes. On May 8, Tocchet and Jones filed separate notices that they intend to sue the State of New Jersey for $50 million each for defamation, claiming the investigation damaged their reputations and cost them business opportunities.[42] On August 3, former New Jersey state trooper James Harney pleaded guilty to conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct, and promised to help authorities with their case against Tocchet.

TransactionsEdit

  • 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' 1996 5th round draft choice and St. Louis' 1997 1st round draft choice.
  • July 21, 1996 - Signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers.

Career statisticsEdit

NHL player statsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/- PP SH GW GP G A Pts PIM
1975-76 Toronto Nationals MetJHL 28 27 33 60 7
1976-77 Seneca Nationals MetJHL 32 36 36 72 35 23 40 35 75
1976-77 Peterborough Petes OHL 3 0 3 3 0
1977-78 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 64 70 112 182 14
1978-79 Indianapolis Racers WHA 8 3 3 6 0
1978-79 Edmonton Oilers WHA 72 43 61 104 19 13 10 10 20 2
1979-80 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 51 86 137 21 +15 13 1 6 3 2 1 3 0
1980-81 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 55 109 164 28 +41 15 4 3 9 7 14 21 4
1981-82 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 92 120 212 26 +81 18 6 12 5 5 7 12 8
1982-83 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 71 125 196 59 +60 18 6 9 16 12 26 38 4
1983-84 Edmonton Oilers NHL 74 87 118 205 39 +76 20 12 11 19 13 22 35 12
1984-85 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 73 135 208 52 +98 8 11 7 18 17 30 47 4
1985-86 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 52 163 215 46 +71 11 3 6 10 8 11 19 2
1986-87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 62 121 183 28 +70 13 7 4 21 5 29 34 6
1987-88 Edmonton Oilers NHL 64 40 109 149 24 +39 9 5 3 19 12 31 43 16
1988-89 Los Angeles Kings NHL 78 54 114 168 26 +15 11 5 5 11 5 17 22 0
1989-90 Los Angeles Kings NHL 73 40 102 142 42 +8 10 4 4 7 3 7 10 0
1990-91 Los Angeles Kings NHL 78 41 122 163 16 +30 8 0 5 12 4 11 15 2
1991-92 Los Angeles Kings NHL 74 31 90 121 34 -12 12 2 2 6 2 5 7 2
1992-93 Los Angeles Kings NHL 45 16 49 65 6 +6 0 2 1 24 15 25 40 4
1993-94 Los Angeles Kings NHL 81 38 92 130 20 -25 14 4 0
1994-95 Los Angeles Kings NHL 48 11 37 48 6 -20 3 0 1
1995-96 Los Angeles Kings NHL 62 15 66 81 32 -7 5 0 2
1995-96 St. Louis Blues NHL 18 8 13 21 2 -6 1 1 1 13 2 14 16 0
1996-97 New York Rangers NHL 82 25 72 97 28 +12 6 0 2 15 10 10 20 2
1997-98 New York Rangers NHL 82 23 67 90 28 -11 6 0 4
1998-99 New York Rangers NHL 70 9 53 62 14 -23 3 0 3
20 years Totals NHL 1487 894 1963 2857 577 +518 204 73 91 208 122 260 382 66

NHL coaching statsEdit

Coaching RecordEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L OTL Pts Finish Result
PHX2005-06 8238395815th in PacificMissed Playoffs
PHX2006-07 8231465675th in PacificMissed Playoffs

International playEdit

Played for Canada in:

International statistics

Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1978 Canada WJC 6 8 9 17 2
1981 Canada CC 7 5 7 12 2
1982 Canada WCh 10 6 8 14 0
1984 Canada CC 8 5 7 12 2
1987 NHL All-Stars RV-87 2 0 4 4 0
1987 Canada CC 9 3 18 21 2
1991 Canada CC 7 4 8 12 2
1996 Canada WCp 8 3 4 7 2
1998 Canada OG 6 0 4 4 2
Int'l Totals 63 34 69 103 14

NotesEdit

  1. NHL.com, Wayne Gretzky: Greatness Ascendant, accessed January 24, 2007
  2. Steve Dryden, The Top 100 NHL Players of All-Time, 1998
  3. Jim Huber, The Greatest?, April 17, 1999
  4. Tom Maloney, Gretzky's Awkward Arrival, Time Magazine, February 15 2006
  5. ESPN.com, The Great One an American? Almost, accessed January 25, 2007
  6. CBC.ca, Top Ten Greatest Canadians - Wayne Gretzky, accessed February 19, 2007
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ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Rick Bowness, interim coach
Phoenix Coyotes Head Coach
2005 – present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Shayne Corson
St. Louis Blues captains
1996
Succeeded by
Chris Pronger
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Dave Taylor
Los Angeles Kings captains
198996
Luc Robitaille, 1993-94
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Rob Blake
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Lee Fogolin
Edmonton Oilers captains
198388
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Mark Messier
Awards
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Mario Lemieux
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
1994
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Jaromir Jagr
Preceded by
Mario Lemieux
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
1990, 1991
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Mario Lemieux
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Marcel Dionne
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
19811987
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Mario Lemieux
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Mario Lemieux
Winner of the Hart Trophy
1989
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Mark Messier
Preceded by
Bryan Trottier
Winner of the Hart Trophy
19801987
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Mario Lemieux
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Ron Hextall
Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
1988
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Al MacInnis
Preceded by
Mark Messier
Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
1985
Succeeded by
Patrick Roy
Preceded by
Jari Kurri
NHL Goal Leader
1987
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Mario Lemieux
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Mike Bossy
NHL Goal Leader
19821985
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Jari Kurri
Preceded by
Bob MacMillan
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1980
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Rick Kehoe
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Brett Hull
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1991, 1992
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Pierre Turgeon
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Pierre Turgeon
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1994
Succeeded by
Ron Francis
Preceded by
Ron Francis
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1999
Succeeded by
Pavol Demitra
Preceded by
Mark Howe
Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
1987
Succeeded by
Brad McCrimmon
Preceded by
Charlie Huddy
Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
1984-1985
Succeeded by
Mark Howe
Preceded by
Susan Nattrass
Lou Marsh Trophy winner
1982, 1983
Succeeded by
Gaétan Boucher
Preceded by
Gaétan Boucher
Lou Marsh Trophy winner
1985
Succeeded by
Ben Johnson
Preceded by
Carolyn Waldo
Lou Marsh Trophy winner
1989
Succeeded by
Kurt Browning
Preceded by
John McEnroe
Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
1982
Succeeded by
Carl Lewis
Phoenix Coyotes Head Coaches
Hay • Schoenfeld • Francis • Bowness • Gretzky  • Tippett

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