Wayne Douglas Gretzky, CC (born January 26, 1961 in Brantford, Ontario) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey player. He is formerly a part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has also been the club's head coach and head of hockey operations.
Gretzky's paternal grandfather Anton (Tony) Gretzky immigrated to Canada via the United States from Grodno Governorate, Russian Empire, now part of Belarus, with his wife Mary of Pidhaytsi, Ukraine. In interviews, Gretzky's father Walter has stated that his parents were Belarusians, while on other occasions he has mentioned his family's Polish ancestry, and has described his father as being born in Russia with "Ukrainian forebears". Though described as Polish and Belarusian, "the only Slavic language spoken in the family is Ukrainian".
Tony and Mary owned a 25-acre (10 ha) vegetable farm in Canning, Ontario, while Wayne's parents Walter and Phyllis had an apartment in Brantford where Walter worked for Bell Telephone Canada. Seven months after Wayne was born, Walter and Phyllis moved into a house. Wayne was joined by a sister, Kim (b. 1963), and brothers Keith, Glen, and Brent. The family would watch Hockey Night in Canada at Tony and Mary's. By age two, Wayne was trying to score goals against Mary using a souvenir stick. The farm was where Wayne ice skated for the first time, aged two years, 10 months.
Walter taught Wayne, Keith, Brent, Glen and their friends hockey on a rink he made in his back yard, nicknamed the "Wally Coliseum". Drills included skating around Javex bleach bottles and tin cans, and flipping pucks over scattered hockey sticks to be able to pick up the puck again in full flight. Walter's advice included to "skate where the puck's going, not where it's been". Wayne was a classic prodigy whose extraordinary skills made him the target of jealous parents.
Gretzky's first team, at age six, was a team of ten-year-olds, starting a pattern where Gretzky always played...