The Great One bids us adieu

On April 18, 1999, number 99, Wayne Gretzky skated off the ice for last time as a professional hockey player following a 2-1 New York Rangers loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime.

Gretzky’s lone point in the game came from an assist. Brian Leetch scored the Ranger’s only goal. The Great One slowly made his way around the rink when the game concluded, saluting the fans at Madison Square Garden.

Final minute of regulation in Gretzky’s last game. Video Source: retroWindsor: a part of the retroCanadian youtube network

At the end of his career, Gretzky played close to 1500 games and scored 894 goals, totaling 2857 points. He was awarded with the Lady Byng Memorial, Hart Memorial, Art Ross and Conn Smythe Trophies along side the Ted Lindsay Award, each on more than one occasion.

The Great One joined the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers in 1978. The Los Angeles Kings snagged him in one of the most ambitious moves in the history of the sport.  He played with the St. Louis Blues for 18 games before going to the Rangers for the final three seasons of his career.

Gretzky is arguably the greatest NHL player to set skates on the ice and the only one to have his number officially retired by the league. Mario Lemieux’s number, 66, will probably not be seen on any more sweaters due to the level of respect today’s players have for his contributions to the sport.

”I wanted it to be a celebration,” Gretzky said, referring to the ceremonies before, during and after the game. ”I didn’t want everybody crying and all that stuff. The Rangers did a nice job at keeping it short, sweet and classy.”

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New York Times bid Gretzky goodbye

League wide retirement in hockey


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