June 26, 1982
Wayne Gretzky was hailed as the best player in the history of the National Hockey League and was acclaimed by legions of sportswriters, other players, and the NHL itself as "the greatest hockey player who ever lived." Sports fans affectionately dubbed him "The Great One" and "The Great Gretzky." Upon his retirement on April 18, 1999, he held forty regular season scoring records, fifteen playoff records, and six All-Star records. He is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in a season – a feat he accomplished four times. All the teams in the National Hockey League have retired Gretzky's jersey number, 99. Raised in Ontario, Canada, he honed his skills at a backyard rink and played minor hockey at a level far above his peers. His father, Walter Gretzky, taught his son Wayne, during hockey drills and gave him the advice "skate to where the puck's going, not where it's been." Wayne was a classic sports prodigy with extraordinary skills. Despite his unimpressive stature, strength, and speed, Gretzky's intelligence and reading of the game were unrivaled. He was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player eight years in a row. After his retirement, he was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. During the 1981-82 season, he broke the record for scoring in one season, with 92 goals and 202 points in 80 games. Sports Illustrated named him 1982 "Sportsman of the Year." And, that same year, the 21-year-old legendary "Boy Wonder" of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team also participated in the 1982 Achievement Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana, and spoke to the student delegates about his life and his rapid rise to professional sports superstardom.
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