Wayne Gretzky: Biography
biography of The Great One of hockey, Wayne Gretzky, including career record-breaking highlights and milestones.
Wayne Gretzky was born on January 26, 1961, in Ontario, Canada. As soon as young Wayne could walk, he learned how to skate and grew to love the game of hockey. At just five years of age, Wayne started playing in organized hockey leagues. He was naturally small in size and stature but played so well that he was quickly competing against boys twice his age. This would become the standard for Wayne’s hockey career: always seemingly playing on a different level than everyone else around him.
Wayne was only 17 years old when he made his professional debut with the Indianapolis Racers of the now defunct WHA (World Hockey Association). He played just eight games for the Pacers before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. That year Gretzky got to live out a life-long dream. He played in what would become the WHA’s last All-Star game and was a teammate of the legendary Gordie Howe. The 1978-'79 season would be the last for the WHA, but Gretzky’s career was just beginning.
The Edmonton Oilers were one of four teams to merge with the NHL in the 1979 season, and Gretzky led the group of young and upcoming stars. During the early years that the Oilers played in the NHL, they acquired such talent as forward and Gretzky linemate Jarri Kurri, defensemen Kevin Lowe and Paul Coffey, center Mark Messier, and goaltender Grant Fuhr. It wouldn’t take long for all this talent to come together to rule the NHL.
In 1984, Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers won their first Stanley Cup championship. A year earlier they had made the finals but were swept in four straight games by the New York Islanders. The '84 championship would be the first of four that Wayne would enjoy as an Oiler. Edmonton repeated as champions in 1985 and then won back-to-back Stanley Cups in '87 and '88.
After ten brilliant years with the Oilers, filled with record-breaking seasons and four titles, the unthinkable happened. Wayne was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. It was hard for fans to imagine Gretzky not as a an Oiler, but Gretzky made yet another name for himself by igniting the formerly weak Kings.
In 1993, the Los Angles Kings made their way to the Stanley Cup Finals to battle against the Montreal Canadians. The Kings lost in five games, despite Gretzky’s performance. This was Gretzky's last Stanley Cup appearance.
Gretzky was traded to the St. Louis Blues during the end of the '95-'96 season, but his stay would be brief. At the end of the season, he was traded to the New York Rangers, where he would play out the rest of his career. Wayne Gretzky retired after the '98-'99 season, ending a career of more than 20 years in professional hockey.
Although Gretzky was the consummate team player, along the way he set or tied more than 60 records. He is the career leader in goals, assists, and points, and also holds those records for a single season. He has also won nine MVP awards for regular-season play, and two MVPs during Stanley Cup playoff competition.
After Gretzky’s retirement, his jersey number 99 was instantly retired by the NHL, the first time ever a number had been retired by the league. This was a small token of appreciation by the NHL for the man called "The Great One."