The impact that Wayne Gretzky had on ice hockey was unparalleled. His incredible on-ice exploits revolutionized the sport, and his off-ice influence helped hockey become more deeply ingrained in the fabric of American sporting culture. Even after more than twenty years of retirement, his name is still associated with the highest levels of performance in his field. It is clear from his record that Gretzky was one of the most gifted athletes to ever play in the United States; his popularity as the "Great One" has stood the test of time.
Wayne Gretzky, widely regarded as the game's finest player, revolutionized ice hockey during his illustrious career. The sport of ice hockey in the United States owes a great deal of its success to his astounding accomplishments and lasting impact.
Wayne Gretzky was a hockey prodigy from the time of his 1961 birth in Ontario, Canada. At age 2, he started skating lessons, and by age 6, he was competing with kids ten years his senior. It is a credit to his innate talent and uncompromising persistence that he was able to make it from the backyard rink his father built to the big stage of the National Hockey League (NHL).
Gretzky's 20-year career in the National Hockey League was unparalleled. Starting in 1979, he piloted the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cup victories. After he was moved to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, hockey began to gain traction in areas of the United States where it had previously faltered.
Gretzky's career in the NHL was marked by numerous record-breaking performances. He finished his career with 2,857 points, a record that still remains as a testament to his outstanding ability to read the game. A testament to his extraordinary influence on the sport, his number 99 is the only one retired across the league.
Beyond his on-ice exploits, Gretzky's off-ice impact was significant in expanding the popularity of ice hockey in the United States. When he moved to Los Angeles, the sport received a flood of publicity that had never been seen before, inspiring a new generation of ice hockey enthusiasts.
After retiring in 1999, Gretzky made significant contributions to the sport. He was the executive director of the Canadian team that won gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics and also served as the team's head coach and a part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.