Wayne Gretzky's 10 Greatest Moments
Gretzky reflects on his time with Edmonton & the unbelievable fan support in Oil Country
Visit Oilers on Demand as we loaded up the video player with some Gretzky memories
On this day, Gretzky turns 50 - born January 26, 1961 in Brantford, Ontario -- and to honour him we look back on his exceptional career. In chronological order, here are 10 of his greatest moments:
- 50 in 39
- 51-Game Point Streak
- 1985-86 Regular Season
- 1988 Conn Smythe Trophy
- NHL's All-Time Playoff Points Leader
- 1987 Canada Cup
- NHL's All-Time Points Leader
- 1994 Art Ross Trophy
- 802nd Career Goal
- Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler
Although a total of four Stanley Cups would be won at Northlands Coliseum, this Gretzky moment would provide one of the most electric and memorable atmospheres ever at an Oilers game in Edmonton.
On December 30, 1981 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Wayne Gretzky scored five goals (including the final marker into an empty net with only seconds remaining) to seal a 7-5 victory for the Oilers and record a currrently untouchable record of 50 goals in 39 games.
His incredible mark shattered the previous 36-year old record held by Maurice "Rocket" Richard and Mike Bossy, who were each able to collect 50 goals in 50 games.
In total, Gretzky amassed 61 goals and 92 points for an astounding total of 153 points during that stretch; on average, recording three points per game. The streak was finally broken in the LA Forum, where Gretzky would be turned aside by Kings goaltender Markus Mattsson on January 28, 1984.
Nevertheless, Gretzky's untouchable record propelled him to an 87-goal, 205-point campaign en route to the Oilers' first Stanley Cup Championship.
The team's success was always at the forefront for Gretzky, but the unusual end to the season allowed the focus to centre on The Great One's unbelievable success offensively throughout the course of the regular season.
It's a record that will likely never be challenged. In the 1985-86 regular season, Gretzky accumulated 52 goals and 163 assists, for a total of 215 points in 80 games. Gretzky is the only NHL player to ever exceed 200 regular season points. With Gretzky in possession of the top four positions, the next closest challenger was Mario Lemieux, who had recorded 199 points in the 1988-99 campaign.
With 12 goals and 43 points collected during the 19-game post-season, Gretzky was honoured with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup MVP.
As it turns out, this collection of hardware would be Gretzky's final moment of excellence in an Oilers uniform, as he would be traded later in the summer to the Los Angeles Kings. Nevertheless, his performance during the 1988 playoffs and subsequent Stanley Cup MVP performance will forever be a classic moment in the minds of Oilers fans everywhere.
On April 9, 1987, Gretzky recorded his 177th career playoff point against the Los Angeles Kings in game two of the Smythe Division semi-finals.
It was a record-setting night on several fronts. The Oilers went on to defeat the Kings in a 13-3 thumping, setting an NHL record for goals scored in a single playoff game (eclipsing the Montreal Canadiens' 1944 record of 11), on the back of Gretzky's seven points.
Gretzky not only surpassed the record of 176 career playoff points previously set by Jean Beliveau, but did so in emphatic fashion as he concluded the night with 183.
In nine games, Gretzky posted an incredible tournament-leading 21 points as he skated on a line with Mario Lemieux. Although his entire body of work was well represented throughout the tournament, no other moment could match the electricity of one particular play in the final game against the Soviets.
"Lemieux ahead to Gretzky. Has Murphy with him on a two-on-one. To Lemieux, in on goal, he shoots, he scores! Mario Lemieux with 1:26 remaining!"
As the late Dan Kelly called the play, Gretzky assisted on Lemieux's game-winning goal to push Canada into the lead late in the third period, sealing victory for the home nation and providing Canadian hockey fans with an unforgettable memory.
In a distinguished NHL career that saw The Great One total an incredible 2,857 points, surpassing the 1,850 mark was one of Gretzky's most impressive career moments.
On October 15, 1989 against the Oilers, Gretzky offficially became the NHL's all-time leading point-scorer at the age of 28. Gretzky scored twice and added an assist on this night to surpass Gordie Howe's total that was amassed over 26 seasons.
Gretzky, always known for dramatics and on-ice heroism, sniped a backhand shot with just over a minute left in the game to record his 1,851st point as an NHLer. In true Edmonton form, the Northlands Coliseum crowd erupted in applause in appreciation of yet another incredible record added to an already lengthly professional resume.
It was Gretzky's 10th time being recognized with the NHL's top point-scoring hardware. Even more impressively, the feat was achieved at 33 years of age. Gretzky became the oldest recipient of the trophy since Gordie Howe captured the award in 1963 at age 35.
Both Howe and Mario Lemieux each received the award six times in their respective careers, while Gretzky further expanded his record with the 1994 prize.
Goal-scoring milestones were happening with great regularity throughout The Great One's career, but his 802nd career goal was perhaps the most amazing. Both on an individual level and for the NHL's all-time leaders in this category, Gretzky accomplished something special.
With the Vancouver Canucks in town on March 23, 1994 to take on the Kings, a new NHL leader was in goal-scoring was crowned. After taking a centering pass, Gretzky one-timed the puck from the bottom of the circle to beat an out-of-position Kirk McLean.
The goal pushed Gretzky into the top spot among NHL goal-scoring leaders, putting childhood hero Gordie Howe in the second slot. Gretzky would add 94 more goals in his incredible NHL career, but the moment of "802" will always me one of the most memorable.
"The years here have been nothing but wonderful, nothing but great," said a teary-eyed Gretzky as he addressed the sold-out crowd.
Although the ceremony was emotional for all Oilers fans, it would not be the final time that Gretzky would don Oilers silks in front of his beloved supporters. On November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadium, Gretzky returned to the orange and blue as he participated in the festivities at the inaugural Heritage Classic.
This special event was the only time that Gretzky would play in an alumni event, making the sight even more special for those in attendance. Although it came four years after his official retirement ceremony, this moment would truly be Gretzky's swan song to the dedicated Edmonton fans.
Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com