Gretzky, Wayne (1961–)
Wayne Gretzky (1961–)
Wayne Gretzky—The Great One—is one of the finest and most celebrated hockey players who ever lived. He holds sixty-one individual National Hockey League (NHL; see entry under 1910s—Sports and Games in volume 1) records. On ten occasions, he was the league's scoring champ. On nine occasions, he was named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP). He was voted to the NHL All-Star team eighteen times, and three times was the All-Star game's MVP.
Gretzky began skating when he was two-and-a-half years old. At age ten, he scored 378 goals while playing for a peewee team in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario, Canada. In 1978, when he was seventeen, he signed his first professional contract with the Indianapolis Racers of the upstart World Hockey Association (WHA) but played in just eight games before being sold to the Edmonton Oilers. Following the merger between the WHA and the more established NHL, Gretzky won the NHL Rookie-of-the-Year award with the Oilers in the 1979–80 season. He followed up by breaking the league's single-season points record. In the 1981–82 season he bested that with an amazing 92 goals and 212 points. Gretzky led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988.
In 1988, Gretzky was dispatched to the larger-market Los Angeles Kings for $15 million and various players and draft choices. His presence on a major-city American team helped to raise the profile of hockey in the United States. In 1996, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues and soon after signed with the New York Rangers, from which he retired in 1999. As of 2002, Gretzky was in charge of all hockey operations for the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes. He also was the executive director of Team Canada's gold medal–winning men's hockey team in the 2002 Olympics (see entry under 1900s—Sports and Games in volume 1).
For More Information
Dryden, Steve, ed. Total Gretzky: The Magic, the Legend, the Numbers. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1999.
"Gretzky Calls It a Career." NHL.com.http://www.nhl.com/hockeyu/history/gretzky (accessed April 1, 2002).
Gretzky, Wayne. Gretzky: An Autobiography. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.
Gretzky, Wayne, and John Davidson. 99: My Life in Pictures. New York: Total Sports, 1999.
Messier, Mark, Walter Gretzky, and Brett Hull. Wayne Gretzky: The Making of the Great One. New York: Beckett Publications, 1988.
Podnieks, Andrew. The Great One: The Life and Times of Wayne Gretzky. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1999.