While there are heated debates in other sports about the greatest of all-time, this debate does not happen in hockey. Wayne Douglas Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time due to his absurd statistics and impact on the game. The Great One, as he is commonly called, is from Ontario, Canada. Throughout his NHL career, Gretzky played for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and the New York Rangers. While he was an amazing contributor on every team he played for, he is most known for his stint with the Oilers.
Gretzky's greatness over his 20-year career cannot be understated. He holds the records for most important scoring statistics in hockey. These records will probably stand the test of time as a constant reminder of Gretzky's run.
Gretzky started his hockey career in the World Hockey Association, or the WHA. At the time, the NHL had a rule against signing players under 20-years-old to a roster, so Gretzky, already known as a hockey prodigy, looked to the WHA to play and was subsequently signed by the Indianapolis Racers. As a definitive second-option to the NHL, the WHA and Racers were losing money fast, even with Gretzky. To try to reclaim some money, Gretzky was sold to the NHL and signed to the Oilers after only eight games.
Gretzky then played for the Oilers for nine years and established himself as one of the greatest ever. After his time with the Oilers, he played for the Los Angeles Kings for eight years, the St. Louis Blues for a half-season, and the New York Rangers for four years, but he only won his Stanley Cups with the Oilers.
The Great One accrued an insane amount of awards and accolades throughout his career. To start, he was voted an All Star in 15 of his 20 seasons in the NHL. He won four Stanley Cups in his career, all with the Oilers. Gretzky won nine Hart Memorial Trophies which is the most valuable player award. He also won two Conn Smythe Trophies which is given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals. Gretzky was also awarded 10 Art Ross Trophies for leading the NHL in points throughout the regular season.
Even more absurd, Gretzky holds the top four spots for most points in a single season and holds 9 of the top 11 spots. As soon as he was eligible, Gretzky was obviously unanimously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Wayne Gretzky was born on January 26, 1961 to Walter Gretzky and Phyllis Hockin. Gretzky has four siblings, one sister, Kim, and three brothers, Keith, Glen, and Brent. Only one of his brothers ever played in the NHL, Brent. On July 16, 1988, Gretzky married actress Janet Jones at a star-studded wedding in Edmonton with many high profile guests including his childhood hero, Gordie Howe. Gretzky has five children with Jones. The couple has three sons, Ty, Tristan, and Trevor, and two daughters, Paulina and Emma.
After his retirement, Gretzky dipped his toes into the wine and spirits world with the Wayne Gretzky Estates in Canada. His company has two locations, both in Canada. One of these locations in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and the other is located in Okanagan.
"Gretzky's office" refers to the area behind the net where the trapezoid is located now. This area is named as such because Gretzky would skate with the puck there and wait until a teammate opened up for a great opportunity. Back in the 1980s, defenders were not used to this and would not pressure him behind the net. This strategy led to many of Gretzky's numerous assists and highlight reel plays.
Gretzky's original plan was not to wear the legendary number that is now synonymous with his likeness. When playing for the Soo Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League, Gretzky wanted to wear number 9 in honor of his favorite player and probably the best player in NHL history at the time, Gordie Howe or "Mr. Hockey." Because a teammate already wore 9 at the time, Gretzky chose the unusual 99, and the rest is history.
Possibly the only honor Gretzky did not achieve throughout his illustrious career, The Great One never won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics despite Canada being a hockey powerhouse. This absence from the greatest hockey career ever was not because of his performance in the Olympics. Until 1998, NHL players were not allowed to play in the Olympics, so Gretzky only had one opportunity to get the gold medal. During that year's Olympics, Canada only placed fourth, so Gretzky did not get a medal as a player.
The "Gretzky Rule," implemented in 1985-86, kept 10 skaters on the ice from the result of a penalty by each team in the same play. Before this rule, the teams would play 4-on-4 or 3-on-3 as a result of the penalties. The NHL created this rule because the Edmonton Oilers of that era scored consistently 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 hockey so badly that the league decided to try to curb this dominance by making them offset.