Ninety-Nine: a Biography of Wayne Gretzky

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  • Topic: National Hockey League, Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
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  • Published : April 7, 2006
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Ninety-Nine

The National Hockey League has hosted the finest athletes in which the game of hockey has ever offered. Throughout over a century of history one person has had more of an impact on this league and this game. This man is Wayne Gretzky. Nicknamed "the great one", no player has done more positive for the game of hockey than him. Gretzky holds more records in the NHL than any other player in history, which shows his skill. He also holds records for attendance and fan support, which shows his other contributions to hockey. A life dedicated to hockey continues to the present and will in the future. This life began January 26th, 1962.

The native Canadian was born in Brantford, Ontario. However he spent his childhood at his grandfather's homestead. His hockey career first started when he would skate on the frozen river in the back yard. This river is where he learned to skate, shoot, and love what would become his life. At age six he began playing youth hockey for the Brantford Atoms. The seasons consisted of sixty nine games. Gretzky scored ninety six goals in his first season at age six. When he was ten he scored 378 goals in the season. That is an average of 5.5 goals per game in that season. This sensationalism on the ice rocketed little Wayne into his first taste of stardom. "Strangers were now asking for his autograph, and he had caught the eye of the national media."(Fortunato, 18). This is also the time in his career when he acquired his nickname of "The Great Gretzky", given to him by an Ontario newspaper.

Even at a young age in his pre-teen years he drew crowds of thousands. Sometimes he would play in tournaments in front of over ten or even eleven thousand people. When he was fourteen he moved to Toronto, away from his family. He lived with a teammate there playing in the Junior B League. This was a league with players aging twenty years old. Despite the difference in age and size, Gretzky was an extreme standout. At the end of that season he earned rookie of the year title and was fourth in scoring. He then was upgraded into Junior A. He played there until he was seventeen (Fortunato 21).

After that professional teams began to gain interest. The World Hockey Association was where he would play next. This league was losing a competition to the NHL for popularity. He signed with the Indianapolis Racers. In this season attendance dwindled for the WHA and Gretzky requested that he be dealt to a team which would likely be absorbed into the NHL when this league ended operations. He felt the strongest team for him to be was Edmonton. They were taken into the NHL the next season as the WHL folded. In his only season in the WHL he achieved forty-six goals and one hundred points (Fortunato 30).

The next season he began his true professional career in the National Hockey League. It also began an era in Edmonton of hockey adoration. This was undoubtedly attributed to Gretzky. The famous rookie overhauled sports fandom in Edmonton with the help of two other young stars Mark Messier and Kevin Lowe. This trio did wonders for the success of the Oilers as a team and as an organization. That rookie season he had 86 assists in addition to his 51 goals. He and his young star teammates were friends on and off the ice. He spent the next two years wowing fans of packed arena's. Packed like the arena of his first game as an Oiler and like the rinks of when he was ten years old. He had another season with fifty plus goals. In his third season (1981-82) Gretzky achieved one of his more significant records. He scored ninety-two goals in the eighty games he played that season. The previous record was seventy-six. He also broke other records that season including most points, assists, and hat tricks. This is one of his 62 currently scoring records he currently holds. He achieved another scoring title the next season with 71 goals. He scored eight more goals than that the next season but achieved something...
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