On this day in 1993, hockey legend Wayne Douglas Gretzky (1961-) became the highest paid player in the NHL, signing a contract with the L.A. Kings that would pay him $25,000,000 over three years.
ďI was always taught that an assist is as good as a goal,Ē he said.
Born in Brantford, Ontario, at age 10 he scored 378 goals in a 69-game season. By 17, he had signed his first professional contract with the Indianapolis Racers and began a magical 20-year career that included 1,487 games, 894 goals, and 1,963 assists. He dominated the game, setting or tying over 50 NHL records. Sports Illustrated called him "a meteor that forever changed the hockey world."
Hockey great Gordie Howe agreed: "I'm happy that if anyone were to break my records in this game, it would be Wayne. He's such a great ambassador for hockey that he always has time for the fans and the media. He only does what's best for the game."
Gretzky was once asked what was the secret of his success, since he was not the biggest, fastest, nor most agile skater. ďFirst you have to have a passion and a love for the sport. Second, you have to have a dedication to it," he replied. "I couldnít beat people with my strength. I donít have a hard shot. Iím not the quickest skater. My eyes and my mind have to do most of the work."
He played his last game in Madison Square Garden in 1999 and the league permanently retired his number 99.
Knights former coach Barry Melrose called Gretzky "a unique person and athlete" who comes along "very, very seldom." Ken Dryden, General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs added, "Gretzky was the first great forward whose way of playing was to make everybody around him better."
About his nickname, "The Great One," he told ESPN in 1996, "Iím more comfortable with people just calling me Wayne. Thereís been a couple of stretches in my career where I probably could have been The Good One or The Mediocre One."
Take a shot at it. So what if you miss?