hockey player. Born January 26, 1961, in Brantford, Ontario,
Canada. One of the most famous players of all time, Wayne
Gretzky set 61 National Hockey League scoring records and
played in 18 All-Star games in his 21-year career. His uniquely
smart and elegant playing style redefined the image of a great
hockey champion, and his retirement in 1999 marked the end
of an era in the sport.
began skating when he was about three years old. His father,
Waltera former amateur hockey player and his eldest
sons dedicated first coachflooded the backyard
with water to create a makeshift ice rink, stringing lights
up around it so the young Gretzky could skate at night.
At age six, Gretzky began playing on the Brantford Novice
All-Star team, outplaying many of the older boys in the
Bantam League. As the only Canadian representative in the
Junior World Cup tournament held in Montreal in 1977, Gretzky
was the youngest player and the leading scorer. He turned
pro the next year, making his debut with the Indianapolis
Racers of the World Hockey Assocation.
late 1978, his contract was sold to the Edmonton Oilers,
one of the more successful teams in the failing WHA. When
the NHL merged with the WHA at the beginning of the next
season, Gretzky became the leagues youngest MVP ever,
as well as the youngest player to score 50 or more goals
and 100 or more points in a single season.
led the Oilers to four Stanley Cup Championships during
the 1980s. In his best season, 1981-82, he scored 92 goalsstill
an NHL record. When he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings
in 1988, it became somewhat of a national tragedy in his
native Canada. His career continued throughout the next
decade with the Kings, the St. Louis Blues, and the New
York Rangers. Known as the Great One, or the
Great Gretzky, he became by far the most recognizable
player in hockey and helped spread the sports popularity
into previously unreached corners of the United States,
including Southern California and Florida.
April 1999, Gretzky hung up his skates after 21 years as
a professional. His incredible number of accolades include
career and single game records in goals, assists, and points.
As Canadas Prime Minister Jean Chrétein put
it: This is truly a bittersweet moment
take heart from the endless, magical memories [Gretzky]
has given us. In November 1999, after a waiving of
the mandatory three-year waiting period, the Great One was
inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame.
is married to Janet Jones, an actress. They have three children.