Wayne Gretzky is a former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. He played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for four teams from 1979 to 1999. Nicknamed “The Great One”, he has been called “the greatest hockey player ever” by many sportswriters, players, and the NHL itself. He is the leading point-scorer in NHL history, with more assists than any other player has points, and is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season – a feat he accomplished four times. In addition, he tallied over 100 points in 16 professional seasons, 14 of them consecutive. At the time of his retirement in 1999, he held 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, and six All-Star records. He won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and performance five times, and he often spoke out against fighting in hockey.
Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Wayne Gretzky honed his skills at a backyard rink and regularly played minor hockey at a level far above his peers. Despite his unimpressive stature, strength and speed, Gretzky’s intelligence and reading of the game were unrivaled. He was adept at dodging checks from opposing players, and he could consistently anticipate where the puck was going to be and execute the right move at the right time. Gretzky also became known for setting up behind his opponent’s net, an area that was nicknamed “Gretzky’s office” because of his adept skills in that area.
In 1978, Wayne Gretzky signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association (WHA), where he briefly played before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. When the WHA folded, the Oilers joined the NHL, where he established many scoring records and led his team to four Stanley Cup championships. His trade to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9, 1988, had an immediate impact on the team’s performance, eventually leading them to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, and he is credited with popularizing hockey in California. Gretzky played briefly for the St. Louis Blues before finishing his career with the New York Rangers. Gretzky captured nine Hart Trophies as the most valuable player, ten Art Ross Trophies for most points in a season, five Lady Byng Trophies, five Lester B. Pearson Awards, and two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP.
After his retirement in 1999, Wayne Gretzky was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, making him the most recent player to have the waiting period waived. The NHL retired his jersey number 99 league-wide, making him the only player to receive this honour. He was one of six players voted to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) Centennial All-Star Team. Gretzky became executive director for the Canadian national men’s hockey team during the 2002 Winter Olympics, in which the team won a gold medal. In 2000, he became part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, and following the 2004–05 NHL lockout he became the team’s head coach. In September 2009, following the franchise’s bankruptcy, Gretzky resigned as coach and relinquished his ownership share.
Wayne Gretzky has made several TV appearances, including a Dance Fever celebrity judge, and an ‘unforgettable appearance’, acting in a dramatic role alongside Victor Newman in The Young and The Restless in 1981. In 1984, he travelled to the Soviet Union to film a television program on Russian goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. Gretzky hosted the Saturday Night Live comedy program in 1989. A fictional crime-fighting version of him served as one of the main characters in the cartoon ProStars in 1991. Gretzky has made over 60 movies, network television and video appearances as himself, according to IMDB, as of February 2012.
Wayne Gretzky has owned or partnered in the ownership of two sports teams before becoming a partner in the Phoenix Coyotes. In 1985, Gretzky bought the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for $175,000 CA. During his ownership, the team’s colours were changed to silver and black, presaging the change in team jersey colours when he played for the Los Angeles Kings. For the first season that Gretzky played in Los Angeles, the Kings had their training camp at the Olympiques’ arena. Gretzky eventually sold the team in 1992 for $550,000 CA.
In 1991, Wayne Gretzky purchased the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League with Bruce McNall and John Candy. The club won the Grey Cup championship in the first year of the partnership but struggled in the two following seasons, and the partnership sold the team before the 1994 season. Only McNall’s name was engraved on the Grey Cup as team owner, but in November 2007, the CFL corrected the oversight, adding Gretzky’s and Candy’s names. In 1992, Gretzky and McNall partnered in an investment to buy a rare Honus Wagner T206 cigarette card for $451,000 US, later selling the card. It most recently sold for $2.8 million US.
As of May 2008, Wayne Gretzky’s current business ventures include the “Wayne Gretzky’s” restaurant in Toronto near the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto, opened in partnership with John Bitove in 1993. Gretzky is also a partner in First Team Sports, a maker of sports equipment and Worldwide Roller Hockey, Inc., an operator of roller hockey rinks. He has endorsed and launched a wide variety of products, from pillow cases to insurance. Forbes estimates that Gretzky earned US$93.8 million from 1990–98.
How Wayne Gretzky Made His Money – Hockey
Estimated Net Worth: $210 Million
Birthday: January 26, 1961