Saying goodbye to "The Great One"

By Steve Winfrow and Zach Petcoff
Turner Fenton Campus
Brampton, Ontario

Well, for all of you who live in a cave and haven't heard the news of Wayne Gretzky's retirement, WAKE UP. The fact is it was time for the Great One to go. It was better for him to leave while he was still considered "The Great One" than stay until he was no longer among the most dominant in the league. Wayne Gretzky's career spanned two decades and numerous records.

First playing on the WHA's Indianapolis Racers, Gretzky started his NHL career in Edmonton with the Oilers, taking four Stanley Cups as the captain of the team. He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in a nine player blockbuster deal. While in LA, Gretzky played with players such as Marty McSorley, Kelly Hrudy and many more. With this team of semi-superstars, the Kings were able to make it to another Stanley Cup final, which they promptly lost to the Montreal Canadiens. After three more seasons with the Kings, trade rumors began to swirl. Eventually they were settled, with the trade of Gretzky to the St. Louis Blues, under Mike Keenan.

Gretzky spent four to five months in St Louis before signing with the New York Rangers. Recently, there were reports that The Toronto Maple Leafs had a workable deal with "The Great One" but it was vetoed by owner Steve Stavro. Gretzky spent the remainder of his career in New York where he finished it on Sunday, April 18, 1999. His fianale was so important that CBC television cut from Blue Jays baseball to the hockey in the middle of the game. That was the first time since the mid-70's that the CBC has cut one game short to go to other programing.

Although he is known to his American fans mostly as an NHLer, Gretsky is also known as an international star. His biggest achievement on an international plateau was in the 1987 Canada Cup. The entire tournament was filled with highlight reel goals and assists for the Great One, but it was in the final against the Soviet team that will always be remembered. At this time, Gretzky pulled aside fellow retired superstar, (Super) Mario Lemieux, and told him to pick up his feet and become the player everyone knew he could be. At the end of that series' final game in Hamilton, Ontario, The Great One and The Marvelous One combined for one of the most memorable goals ever.

He followed that tremendous performance with another, in the 1991 Canada Cup, which was also dominated by the Canadians. In 1996, however, when the Canada Cup changed to the World Cup, Team USA (led by Mike Modano, Pat LaFontaine, Kevin and Derian Hatcher, and Jeremy Roenick) beat the Canadians, winning the final game in Montreal.

Fresh in our memory is the defeat at last year's Olympic Games, where the Czech Republic, headed by Dominik Hasek and Jaromir Jagr, defeated our "Dream Team" to advance to the Gold Medal game. The Canadians, who felt they were the better team in that game, were forced to go to a shootout. Unfortunately, the greatest offensive player ever to be in the game was left off of the list of shooters.

This final game will probably be one of the most memorable ever, as it is the end of an era. We may never see the likes of Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky again, and his dedication to the game of hockey will be missed.