The Great One
Wayne Gretzky is considered by many to be not only the greatest hockey player of all time but, quite possibly, the greatest athlete of all time. His esteemed stature in the sport is without question. But what made “The Great One” so great? In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the things that made Wayne Gretzky a legend.
Who is Wayne Gretzky?
On January 26, 1961, Wayne Gretzky was born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He started playing hockey at a very young age, and by the time he was a teenager, he was already one of the best players in the world. Gretzky first saw action in the World Hockey Association, a league competing with the more established National Hockey League.
He eventually signed with the Indianapolis Racers on June 12, 1978, to a seven-year contract worth $1.75 million. The young star scored his first and second goals against the Edmonton Oilers.
His stay with the Racers, though, was not long. On November 2, 1978, Gretzky was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for cash. This turned out to be a perfect deal for the Oilers.
The Early Years
Gretzky had an immediate impact on the Oilers. In his first season with the team, he was deemed the league’s Most Valuable Player and the Hart Memorial Trophy. He was also tied for the league’s scoring league with 137 points.
During his rookie season, Gretzky’s point total remains the highest for a first-year player to this day. He was also the youngest player to score 50 goals. However, he could not be given the Calder Memorial Trophy—the league’s best rookie award—because of his previous experience in the defunct WHA.
Gretzky’s success continued in the following years. Gretzky amassed a whopping 164 points in his second season and tallied 102 assists. Those marks shattered Bobby Orr’s previous record for most assists in a season and Phil Esposito’s scoring record for a single season.
His performance in the 1981-82 season might have been his most spectacular. He broke a record that once stood for half a century—scoring 50 goals in just 39 games. He would eventually break Esposito’s record of most goals in a season by producing a whopping 92 goals.
Gretsky added an astounding 120 assists and 212 points in 80 matches, making him the only player to break the 200-point mark. Gretzky’s efforts led him to be named the Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, the Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated, and the Newsmaker of the Year by the Canadian Press.
Winning The Cup
Despite his individual accomplishments, he still didn’t have a Stanley Cup title. He came close in 1983 as he made it to the finals but got swept by the New York Islanders. The following season, he and the Oilers gained a rematch against the same Islanders and got revenge, winning the Stanley Cup crown.
He would eventually give the Oilers three more NHL crowns before getting traded to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9, 1988. “The Trade,” as it would become known, shook up the hockey world.
Gretzky’s Time in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, Gretzky continued to be a dominant figure, leading the Kings to the playoffs in nearly all of his years with the club. He even broke Gordie Howe’s career scoring record of 801. Gretzky was also largely credited with popularizing the sport of hockey in Los Angeles and in the United States.
In 1996, Gretzky requested a trade granted, and he was sent to the St. Louis Blues. However, he didn’t stay long. He eventually signed on to play for the New York Rangers, joining former teammate and fellow hockey legend Mark Messier in the Big Apple. He ended his playing career with the Rangers in 1999. Gretzky finished his career as the NHL’s all-time leader in goals, assists, and points.
Historic Abilities On The Ice
Gretzky is, without a doubt, one of the most accomplished athletes in history. He dominated his sport like no other player has ever done before or since. Gretzky was the epitome of a superstar athlete. He wasn’t just a one-dimensional player; he could do it all. He was an incredible scorer but also a gifted playmaker.
His uncanny ability to read the game and anticipate plays made Gretzky so great. His hockey IQ was off the charts. And because of this, he was able to control the game in a way that no one else ever could. He made everyone around him better. His versatility and athleticism were also supreme. He was able to score goals in all sorts of ways, and his skating was second to none.
Wayne Gretzky’s influence on the game is still felt today. Countless players have tried to imitate his style, but no one has ever come close to matching his brilliance. The sport’s popularity can now be traced to Gretzky and his many achievements. His legacy in the hockey world is unmatched. He was a scoring machine, and his playmaking abilities were second to none. He was an incredible athlete and a true pioneer in his sport.
His legacy is also one of sportsmanship and class. While he was a fierce competitor, he never ran his mouth or trash-talked opponents. Gretzky is, without a doubt, the greatest athlete of all time. He was a fantastic scorer, playmaker, and thinker. He changed the game of hockey forever and left a lasting legacy that will never be forgotten.
Why Wayne Gretzky is the Greatest Athlete of All Time
Wayne Gretzky is the greatest athlete of all time because of his unparalleled ability to read the game and make quick decisions. He also has a fantastic work ethic that continuously improves his skills.
Gretzky’s passion for hockey and respect for his opponents have helped him succeed on and off the ice. Although other athletes may be more physically gifted, no one can match Gretzky’s combination of mental and emotional toughness.