Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky in his New York Rangers team jersey.

Like many other Canadian children, Wayne Gretzky grew up on a skating rink. This was much thanks to his father, who every year constructed an ice rink in the family’s back yard, where Wayne and his siblings tirelessly played hockey late into the night all winter. Anyone who came to the rink and saw young Wayne play immediately recognized his outstanding qualities, and eventually, Gretzky’s skills and achievements would take him all the way to the NHL, North America’s professional hockey league.

NHL records

Throughout his NHL career, in the 1980s and 90s, Gretzky turned the NHL record book into his personal diary. Among other things, he won the Stanley Cup four times and scored so many goals that he is the league’s leading goal scorer of all time. The Canadian legend, furthermore, also represented the national team, although his generation of all star players never won an Olympic gold medal. Gretzky only first triumphed in the Olympics when he became a head coach for the men’s team in 2002.

A creative playmaker

In spite of not succeeding in the Olympics as a player, Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky was very much admired for his ability to read the game, and is still considered better than any player who has ever put on a pair of skates. Nevertheless, despite being thought of as the best player ever, Gretzky himself has said that he may not have been able to play professional hockey today. This, he explains, is because players have become stronger and the game has become more systematic than it was before. Creative playmakers like himself, he assesses, would not fit in today’s game.

Fighting and sportsmanship

Back in the 80s and 90s again, where Gretzky certainly fit in and where he dominated overall, there was an aspect of hockey that the Canadian legend did not master. This aspect was fighting, and because Gretzky was rather useless at it, he very seldom threw down the gauntlet. Instead, “the Great One” was known for his sportsmanship, and won five trophies for most gentlemanly conduct in the NHL. However, Gretzky, after his retirement from hockey, has expressed a realization that brawls are part of what makes games exciting for many spectators, and has admitted to enjoying watching fights himself.