Wayne Gretzky.

Wayne Gretzky.

 

Their father Walter would teach Wayne (and his brothers Keith, Brent and Glen and their friends) hockey in his home’s backyard in a rink he had made. They nicknamed the rink ‘Wally Coliseum’ and here they would skate around bottles and cans, flip pucks over scattered hockey sticks to be capable of picking up the puck again while in full flight. He advised them to skate where the puck was heading and not where it had been. Wayne would go on to join a team of ten year olds at age six, and thereby starting a trend that more often saw Wayne always playing against those older than him. His first coach, Dick Martin, observed that Wayne played better than the 10 year olds did (Morrison, 1999).

By the age of ten, Wayne had scored 375 goals with 139 assists in a single season during his time with the Brantford Nadrofsky Steelers. Time went by and his game grew to attract media attention and his reputation beyond his hometown. However, with his meteoric ascent came jealousy from some quarters as he was often booed during games. By 13, he had managed over 1,000 goals. As a result of growing hostilities from his hometown and the desire from his parents to see him improve even further, he was moved to Toronto where he would play his hockey (McConnell, Terry, Pocklington, and Nye, 2009).

In June 12 1978, Racers’ owner Nelson Skalbania signed the 17-year old Wayne on a seven year contract. Here, he scored his first professional goal against Dave Dryden of the Edmonton Oilers in his 5th game. His second goal came in relatively quick succession, barely four seconds later. However, many were still unconvinced of his ability. At 18, critics said he was too small, wiry and slow to make it in the NHL as he was conspicuously underweight at 160 pounds (73 kilograms)

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