Wayne Gretzky Wins Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP) in First NHL Season

In his first NHL season, 1979–80, Gretzky proved his critics wrong.

He was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the League's Most Valuable Player (the first of eight in a row) and tied for the scoring lead with Marcel Dionne with 137 points, which remains the most points by a first-year player. Although Gretzky played 79 games to Dionne's 80, Dionne was awarded the Art Ross Trophy since he scored more goals (53 vs. 51). Gretzky became the youngest player to score 50 goals but was not eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top NHL rookie, because of his previous year of WHA experience. The Calder was awarded to Boston Bruins defenceman Ray Bourque.

Gretzky took the NHL by storm, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP. He missed winning the Art Ross Trophy the first year, given to the league’s top scorer, by one goal. He was not eligible for Rookie of the Year honors due to his previous professional experience.

February 15

Recorded 7 assists in one game, an NHL record he would duplicate on December 11, 1985 and February 14, 1986.
Became youngest player (19 years, two months) in league history to score 50 goals in a season
Won first of four career Lady Byng trophies (1979-80, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1993-94)
Won first of nine Hart Memorial trophies (1979-80 through 1986-87 and 1988-89)