Here is a look at the life of Hall of Fame hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who is the all-time leading scorer in National Hockey League (NHL) history, with 2,857 career points (894 career goals and 1,963 career assists).
Birth date: January 26, 1961
Birth place: Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Birth name: Wayne Douglas Gretzky
Father: Walter Gretzky, telephone technician
Mother: Phyllis (Hockin) Gretzky
Marriage: Janet Jones (July 16, 1988-present)
Children: Emma, Tristan, Trevor, Ty and Paulina
Nicknamed “The Great One.”
Only player to have his jersey number (No. 99) retired by the entire NHL.
Won four Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers (1984-1985, 1987-1988) and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy (NHL Playoff MVP) twice (1985 and 1988).
Awarded the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) nine times (1980-1987, 1989).
Won the Art Ross Trophy (NHL scoring title) 10 times (1981-1987, 1990-1991, 1994).
Played in 18 NHL All-Star Games.
At the time of his retirement in 1999, Gretzky held outright or shared 61 NHL records.
Is a co-owner of the restaurant Wayne Gretzky’s in downtown Toronto and part-owner of Wayne Gretzky Estates, a winery and distillery in Ontario’s Niagara region.
1974 – At age 13, scores his 1,000th lifetime goal, in an exhibition hockey game.
1978 – At the World Junior Championship, leads the tournament with 17 points (eight goals and nine assists).
June 1978 – Turns professional, signing with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association.
November 2, 1978 – Gretzky’s contract is sold to the Edmonton Oilers. After the collapse of the World Hockey Association (WHA), the Oilers are one of four WHA teams be absorbed into the NHL the following year.
October 14, 1979 – Scores his first NHL goal, against the Vancouver Canucks.
February 24, 1982 – Scores his 77th goal to break Phil Esposito’s single season scoring record. Gretzky ends the season with 92 goals, which remains an NHL record.
1983-1984 – Scores at least one point in 51 consecutive games. Gretzky’s record of the longest consecutive point scoring streak remains active in the NHL.
August 28-September 15, 1987 – Scores 21 points (three goals and 18 assists) in Team Canada’s victory against the USSR in the best-of-three finals for the Canada Cup. The final is still “considered by many to be the best exhibition of hockey in history.”
August 9, 1988 – His trade to the Los Angeles Kings is announced.
October 15, 1989 – Surpasses Gordie Howe to become the NHL’s all-time leading point scorer, with points 1,850 and 1,851.
October 26, 1990 – Earns his 2,000th career point, the only NHL player to reach that landmark.
March 23, 1994 – Scores his 802nd goal, passing Howe as the all-time leading goal scorer.
February 27, 1996 – Traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the St. Louis Blues.
July 21, 1996 – Signs with the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent.
April 18, 1999 – Retires following the Rangers’$2 2-1 loss in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gretzky played 20 seasons in the NHL, and a total of 21 seasons professionally.
October 1, 1999 – Gretzky’s jersey, No. 99, is formally retired league-wide.
November 22, 1999 – Inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame, after the three-year waiting period is waived.
June 2, 2000 – Announced as a minority owner, managing partner and head of hockey operations for the Phoenix Coyotes (formerly the Winnipeg Jets). Gretzky officially begins his position on February 15, 2001, when the sale of the Coyotes is completed.
2002 – Establishes the Wayne Gretzky Foundation to connect underprivileged youth with hockey.
February 2002 – The Canadian men’s hockey team, for which Gretzky is the executive director, wins gold at the Winter Olympics for the first time in 50 years.
2005-2009 – Head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.
2014 – Establishes Gretzky Hockey Schools.
October 2016 – Becomes partner, vice chairman and alternate board member for the Oilers Entertainment Group, which owns the Edmonton Oilers. On May 25, 2021, Gretzky announces that he is stepping down as vice chairman.
May 26, 2021 – Turner Sports announces that Gretzky is joining the network as a studio analyst.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Magic Johnson —
Being a major league athlete — even a superstar major league athlete — is no guarantee of success at major league team ownership. As one of the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, though, basketball great Magic Johnson is going to give it a shot. Here are a few of his colleagues who made the crossover, for better or worse:
Connie Mack —
The “Tall Tactician” owned part or all of the Philadelphia A’s from the team’s founding in 1901 until 1954, when he sold the team to Arnold Johnson. Before his ownership stint, Connie Mack had an 11-year career as a catcher in the National League. Thanks to his 50 years of managing the A’s — and two years managing the Pirates in the 1890s — he holds major league managing records for games won and lost.
George Halas —
Though far from a superstar, George Halas played in 12 Major League Baseball games in 1919. The next year, he joined the Decatur Staleys football team. In 1921, he bought the squad and moved it to Chicago, where it became the Bears. For several years, “Papa Bear” was everything — owner, player, coach, manager and ticket-seller — and stayed on as coach long after his playing days ended. His family still controls the team.
Rogers Hornsby —
The Hall of Fame hitter bought a portion of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1925 and became the team’s manager. At the end of 1926, fresh off a world championship, he became embroiled in a contract dispute with owner Sam Breadon and was traded to the Giants. The National League president said Hornsby couldn’t own stock in one team while playing for another, and Hornsby was forced to sell.
Jerry Richardson —
Though the Carolina Panthers owner had a short NFL career, it was a memorable one. As a Baltimore Colt, he caught a touchdown pass in the 1959 NFL championship game, the Colts’ second straight title. And then, upset with his contract, he walked away to open a fast-food restaurant named Hardee’s. More than 30 years later, a millionaire many times over, he bought into the NFL.
Mario Lemieux —
In 1999, the hockey Hall of Famer was the bankrupt Pittsburgh Penguins’ biggest creditor. Mario Lemieux turned the situation to his advantage, buying the team, keeping it in Pittsburgh and returning to play for it until 2006, when he retired. Thanks to an influx of good players, especially Sidney Crosby, the team won a Stanley Cup in 2009.
Wayne Gretsky —
Fellow NHL star Wayne Gretzky has had a rougher ride than his old rival Lemieux. After the Great One became a part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2001, the team struggled in the standings — even more after Gretzky became coach in 2005. Amid financial turmoil, he stepped down as coach and owner in 2009.
Michael Jordan —
Greatest of all time? Maybe as a player — six championship rings and all that — but as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan has had to watch his team go from a playoff berth in 2010 to a 7-43 record this season. He recently released a statement saying he’s not thinking of selling the club.
Cal Ripken Jr. —
It’s a bit of a cheat — Cal Ripken Jr. doesn’t own any Major League teams — but the renowned former Oriole, known for his robust work ethic and his consecutive games streak, oversees three Minor League teams: the Aberdeen (Maryland) IronBirds, the Augusta (Georgia) GreenJackets and the Charlotte (Florida) Stone Crabs.
Nolan Ryan —
The greatest strikeout pitcher of all time, with seven no-hitters and 324 wins to his credit, became the owner of the Texas Rangers in 2010 after serving two years as team president. The club has won two straight American League pennants and is a widely touted playoff favorite in 2012.
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