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The Great One's 10 greatest moments

Monday, 08.04.2008 / 10:00 AM / 20th Anniversary of the Greatest Deal

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

For NHL.com, it doesn't get any better than when The Great One broke Gordie Howe's all-time NHL points record on Oct. 15, 1989.
WATCH: Gretzky 500th goal vignette
Simply known as "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky began re-writing the record book almost as soon as arrived in the NHL in 1979. From his first Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1984 to his 215-point season in 1985-86 to his putting Southern California on the hockey map when he joined the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, Gretzky arguably has done more for this sport than anyone who either preceded or followed him.

Here is a look at NHL.com's Top 10 Gretzky moments:

10 -- After playing eight games with the World Hockey Associations' Indianapolis Racers, Gretzky and two other players are sold to the Edmonton Oilers for $700,000. In his first season in the WHA, Gretzky, who had signed a 10-year deal worth $3 million with the Oilers that January, finished third in scoring with 104 points. The WHA would fold following the season.

9 -- With the Oilers now part of the NHL, Gretzky takes the sport by storm in 1979-80, totaling 51 goals, 86 assists and 137 points to win his first of eight consecutive Hart Trophies as the League's Most Valuable Player. At the age of 19, Gretzky also becomes the youngest player in history to score 50 goals in a season.

8 -- On Dec. 30, 1981, Gretzky shatters a record shared by Maurice "Rocket" Richard and Mike Bossy when he reaches 50 goals in just 39 games. Richard and Bossy both needed 50 games to accomplish the impressive feat. Gretzky's milestone goal came in the final moments of Edmonton's 7-5 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Gretzky had five of the Oilers' seven goals.

7 -- At the 1983 All-Star Game, Gretzky sets a record by scoring four times in the third period to lead the Campbell Conference to a 9-3 win over the Wales Conference at the Nassau Coliseum. Gretzky was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

6 -- After eight seasons in Southern California, Gretzky is traded by the Los Angeles to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 27, 1996, for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson and two draft picks. Gretzky was named the Blues' captain upon his arrival and scored 37 points in 31 games between the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

5 -- Teamed with Mario Lemieux, Gretzky scores a tournament-record 21 points in just nine games to lead Team Canada to the 1987 Canada Cup. In a classic three-game series against the Soviet Union to determine the winner, Gretzky set up Lemieux for game-winning goals in Games 2 (double-overtime) and 3 (with 1:26 remaining in the third period) after the Russians had won the opener in overtime.

4 -- One year after being swept out of the Stanley Cup Final, Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers get their revenge on the New York Islanders and win their first Stanley Cup on May 19, 1984, by defeating the four-time champs in five games. Gretzky, who had 205 points (87 goals, 118 assists) during the regular season, had 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 19 playoff games.

3 -- In an emotional farewell, Gretzky plays his final NHL game with the New York Rangers on April 18, 1999 at Madison Square Garden, a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gretzky assisted on New York's lone tally, which was scored by Brian Leetch. Afterward, Gretzky took several laps around the MSG ice to a standing ovation as tears ran down his face.

2 -- The hockey world is rocked Aug. 9, 1988, as the Edmonton Oilers trade Gretzky, along with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash and first-round picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993.

The deal is made due to Oilers owner Peter Pocklington's financial struggles. Pocklington became Canada's biggest villain, while New Democratic Party House Leader Nelson Riis insisted the Canadian government block the trade, which was made just a few months after Gretzky had captained the Oilers to their fourth Stanley Cup championship.

1 -- Facing his former club, Gretzky sets the all-time scoring record with 1,851 points, breaking Gordie Howe's mark. The point which pushed him past Howe came late in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in front of a capacity crowd of 17,503 at the Northlands Coliseum on Oct. 15, 1989, prompting a three-minute standing ovation. The tally is followed an on-ice celebration that lasts 15 minutes.

"An award like this takes a lot of teamwork," Gretzky said, fighting back tears. "Both teams that are here today are part of this record."

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.




Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness