The best hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, is celebrating his birthday today. Although he became famous for his dominance on the ice, in terms of success, it can be said that he is doing even better in retirement. After all, in recent years he has earned much more than in his entire career in the Canadian-American NHL.
When you say hockey legend, every hockey fan thinks of his name. Wayne Douglas Gretzky, The Great One, as he is nicknamed overseas, has left such a strong mark in North America's top hockey league that no one else is even in the same ballpark. He played an impressive 1,487 matches for four different teams, scoring 894 goals and, above all, a staggering 1,963 assists.
These numbers need to be put into context. The total sum of 2,857 points is just shy of a thousand higher than the nearest pursuer, Jaromír Jágr. He played practically 250 more matches, and still has 936 points less. Mark Messier also has similar numbers to Jágr, everyone else is more than a thousand behind. If such statistics are not enough, we can continue. If we discount the goals scored, the number of assists alone exceeds the number of points for both goals and assists that the second in line Jágr collected!
Even the most famous European player in the hockey world cannot match Gretzky. The number that is most relevant in this comparison is the average number of points per match, Gretzky has an average of 1.92 points and Jágr, for comparison, only 1.11. Gretzky is only equal in this respect to Mario Lemieux, whose health failed him and who and could only play 915 matches, but still scored 1,723 points with a point average of 1.88.
Let's leave Super Mario for another time, this day is dedicated to one of the best. Wayne Gretzky tied his NHL career to four clubs. He left his most significant mark on Edmonton, for which he played in the club's first nine seasons in the league. In a relatively short time, he became the audience's darling, and above all the star of the NHL. He scored 583 goals out of his total of 894 in the Oilers' jersey. Gretzky got on well with his wingman, another hockey legend Jari Kurri. In the 1985-86 season, Gretzky reached the highs of his career, racking up an enormous number of 215 scores and 163 assists. However, Edmonton only won the first Stanley Cup a season later, followed by two more, in 1987 and 1988. And then came the shock.
Even during the battle for the Stanley Cup, it was already clear behind the scenes that the best hockey player in the world would be transferred. At that time, teams from Detroit, Vancouver and Los Angeles were being considered. Gretzky himself did not want to leave Alberta, but in the end he had no choice. In the most incomprehensible exchange of NHL history, he headed to Los Angeles, where he further grew his then admirable numbers, although in terms of team, the fathest the Los Angeles Kings team got was the playoff final. However, the fact that Gretzky arrived in sunny and warm California affected the relationship of the locals to hockey as a whole, and The Great One is the reason behind its current popularity.
After eight years, he delighted the fans of the St. Louis club, in which he was supposed to benefit mainly from cooperation with another hockey legend, Brett Hull, but the two of them did not work too well together in hockey. So after six months in Missouri, he headed for his last post, the New York Rangers. Despite his advanced age, he still managed to stay among the best. Even in his penultimate season, he shared the highest number of assists in the season and with who else but Jaromír Jágr.
He never excelled in speed, strength, he was never one of the tallest. His greatest strength was hockey cleverness, he could always think one step, usually two, ahead, far outperforming everyone else. Hockey experts especially value his instinct, which was deadly for the opponent. He tried to use his experience on the coaching bench, between 2005 and 2009 he led the Phoenix Coyotes. However, he was unable to build on his success on the ice.
Gretzky is an idol for Canadians. When he got engaged to actress Janet Jones, whom he first met on the jury of the Canadian verion of the Star Dance competition, the Canadian media wrote about a "royal wedding." The couple married in July 1988 and has five children together, Paulina, Ty, Trevor, Tristan and Emma. It may be interesting that Paulina got engaged to the best contemporary golfer, Dustin Johnson, a few years ago. However, none of the children were able to succeed in sports at the highest level. Ty played hockey in the minor leagues, but never made it to the NHL, and Trevor played the small basketball league.
Although we only talk about Wayne in superlatives when it comes to earnings, he didn't make that much money in the NHL. Respectively, his $50 million before taxes isn't nothing, but Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, who are considered NHL stars now, are making double that amount, and they are not yet at the end of their careers. However, Gretzky has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so the current value of his assets is around $250 million.
The former hockey player remained involved in hockey even in his retirement, owning several clubs, including a 10% share of the Phoenix Coyotes playing in the NHL. Partnership agreements with world brands were also a significant part of the revenue, thanks to which Gretzky was able to build a mansion in Thousand Oaks, California worth 160 million crowns. He recently sold it for three times the amount. Among other things, he owns his own Gretzky’s restaurant in Toronto, where you can usually have his grandma's pierogi, just as she used to make them herself in her homeland on the Polish-Belarusian border, where the whole family comes from. However, the hockey player recently admitted that he had to close the restaurant because of the coronavirus. We hope that it's only temporary.