Wayne Gretzky was born on January 26, 1961 in the town of Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He began his passion to play hockey in a backyard rink with his father Walter Gretzky and attributes his strong values to his mother Phyllis Gretzky. His father would flood the backyard using a sprinkler to turn the ice into a hockey rink for Wayne and his brothers. Even at the young age of eleven, Wayne Gretzky began raising many eyebrows on the ice by collecting 517 points in a season. At only seventeen years old, he led Team Canada to a bronze medal in the World Junior championship, topping the tournament with 17 points in six games. Wayne Gretzky began his professional career with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association in 1978 shortly before he turned 18 years old. He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 1978-79 and began his National Hockey League career when the Edmonton Oilers moved from the WHA to the National Hockey League during the 1979-80 season. Gretzky delighted fans in his first year, scoring 137 points but missed the Art Ross Trophy as Marcel Dionne had one more goal. But the young hockey phenomenon was awarded the Hart Memorial trophy as the most valuable player in the National Hockey League.
Gretzky would go on to make hockey history by winning seven straight Art Ross Trophies, and ten in total. He broke and then set long-standing hockey records for most goals in a season (92), assists (163) and points (215). He also led the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cup Championships during the 1980’s. Gretzky will always be remembered for his play in the 1987 Canada Cup final that landed Team Canada the gold medal. His pass to a streaking Mario Lemieux was to lead to the game winning goal, late in the third period. Wayne’s hockey career in Edmonton came to an end in 1988 when he was traded to the Los Angles Kings. Rumors have speculated that the Oilers might have had little choice due to their financial woes, but hockey fans in Canada were in a state of shock and disbelief.
Edmonton’s loss was certainly LA’s hockey gain as Gretzky was to usher in a new era for hockey in Southern California. He surpassed hockey legend Gordie Howe’s records of all-time goals and points leader and had a very successful seven year stint in LA. In 1993 he even led the Kings team all the way to the Stanley Cup final, where they lost to the Montreal Canadians. At the trade deadline in 1996 he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for several other players and two draft picks. Wayne Gretzky would only be a Blue for the remainder of the 1996-97 season as he then signed on with the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent and retired from the game he loves in 1999. Wayne had been involved in hockey since his retirement in many ways most notably as a minority owner with the Phoenix Coyotes. In 2005, Gretzky made his return to the National Hockey League, not as a player but as head coach of the Coyotes.
Off the ice Gretzky life has been equally memorable. Gretzky met the blond and leggy American actress Janet Jones in 1984 when he was a judge on Dance Fever and she was a dancer on the show. They ran into each other again at a Los Angeles Lakers game in 1987 and became inseparable. Janet was four months pregnant with daughter Paulina when they married on July 17, 1988. Their wedding which was dubbed “The Royal Wedding” was broadcast live throughout Canada from Edmonton’s St. Joseph’s Basilica, ironically though neither Gretzky nor Jones is Roman Catholic. Members of the Fire Department even acted as guards at the church steps. The cost of the event was reportedly over $1 million. Gretzky obtained American citizenship after the wedding, and has since resided in the United States. He and his wife have since had four other children: Ty Robert (born July 9, 1990), Trevor Douglas (born September 14, 1992), Tristan Wayne (born August 2, 2000), and Emma Marie (born March 28, 2003).
Wayne Gretzky has been nicknamed, “The Great One” and is considered the greatest hockey player of all time.