Wayne Gretzky is Born
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 at a level far above his peers through his minor hockey years. His first coach, Dick Martin, remarked that he handled the puck better than the ten-year-olds. According to Martin, "Wayne was so good that you could have a boy of your own who was a tremendous hockey player, and he'd get overlooked because of what the Gretzky kid was doing."The sweaters for ten-year-olds were far too large for Gretzky, who coped by tucking the sweater into his pants on the right side. He continued doing this after making it to the NHL.
By the age of ten he had scored 378 goals and 120 assists in just 85 games with the Brantford Nadrofsky Steelers. His play now attracted media attention beyond his hometown of Brantford, including a profile by John Iaboni in the Toronto Telegram in October 1971. By age 13, he had scored over 1,000 goals. His play attracted considerable negative attention from other players' parents, including those of his teammates, and he was often booed. According to Walter, the "capper" was being booed on "Brantford Day" at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens in February 1975.
When Gretzky was 14, his family arranged for him to move to and play hockey in Toronto, partly to further his career, and partly to remove him from the uncomfortable pressure he faced in his hometown. The Gretzkys had to legally challenge the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to win Wayne the right to play elsewhere, which was disallowed at the time. The Gretzkys won, and Wayne played Junior B hockey with the Toronto Nationals. He earned Rookie of the Year honours in the Metro Junior B Hockey League in 1975–76, with 60 points in 28 games. The following year, as a 15-year-old, he had 72 points in 32 games with the same team, then known as the Seneca Nationals. That year, he also played three games with the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey Association as an emergency call-up, and even then the Great One impressed scouts with his abilities despite his small stature and youth. In addition, he signed with his first agent, Bob Behnke.
Despite his offensive statistics, two teams bypassed him in the 1977 OMJHL Midget Draft of 16-year-olds. The Oshawa Generals picked Tom McCarthy, and the Niagara Falls Flyers picked Steve Peters second overall. With the third pick, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds selected Gretzky, even though Walter Gretzky had told the team that Wayne would not move to Sault Ste. Marie, a northern Ontario city that inflicts a heavy traveling schedule on its junior team. The Gretzkys made an arrangement with a local family they knew and Wayne played a season in the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 16 with the Greyhounds. It was with the Greyhounds that Wayne first wore the number 99 on his jersey. He originally wanted to wear number 9—for his hockey hero Gordie Howe—but it was already being worn by teammate Brian Gualazzi. At coach Muzz MacPherson's suggestion, Gretzky settled on 99.
At 16, in his single year at the major junior level, Gretzky surpassed the OMJHL single-season scoring record, winning the OMJHL Rookie of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike awards. He was selected to play for Canada at the 1978 World Junior Championships. The youngest player in the tournament, he finished as the top scorer, was voted to the All-Star team, and was named Best Forward.
Wayne Douglas Gretzky, OC (born January 26, 1961) is a former professional ice hockey player. Born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, he is known as "The Great One", and considered by many to be the best player of all time.
Taught by his father Walter, Gretzky was a classic prodigy. At 6, he was skating with 10 year-olds. At 10, he scored 378 goals in 85 games, and the first story on him was published in the Toronto Telegram (now the Toronto Sun). At 14, playing against 20 year-olds, he left Brantford to further his career. He also signed with his first agent.
Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky was born on January 26, 1961 in the town of Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He learned to play hockey in a backyard rink with his father Walter Gretzky and got his values thanks to his mother Phyllis Gretzky. Even at the young age of eleven, Wayne Gretzky raised many eyebrows on the ice by collecting 517 points in a season.