On Jan. 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay, Wayne Gretzky brought the curtain down on his All-Star Game career with perhaps the greatest performance of the 18 at which he thrilled fans across North America.
A summary of his All-Star Game career:
Was voted to the starting lineup nine times, twice with Edmonton (1986, 1988); six times with Los Angeles (1989-92, 1994, 1996); once with New York Rangers (1997)
Never missed an All-Star Game in his 20-year career (played in the Rendez-Vous '87 series vs. Soviet Union)
Trails only Gordie Howe (23) for most All-Star Game appearances
Was the fifth-youngest player to ever appear in an All-Star Game (19 years, 10 days)
Joins Mario Lemieux as the winner of the most All-Star Game MVP awards (three)
Feb. 5, 1980 at Detroit -- First All-Star Game appearance. Plays against childhood hero Gordie Howe. As a 19-year-old, the third-youngest to ever appear in an All-Star Game at that time.
Feb. 19, 1981 at Los Angeles -- Records his first All-Star point, an assist, as he and Mike Bossy set up Behn Wilson's third-period goal in a 4-1 victory for the Campbell Conference.
Feb. 9, 1982 at Washington -- Scores his first All-Star goal 26 seconds into the second period in a 4-2 loss. Paul Coffey and Dino Ciccarelli assisted.
Feb. 8, 1983 at Long Island -- His four third-period goals set All-Star records for most goals in game, period and points in a period. Captured his first MVP award.
Jan. 31, 1984 at New Jersey -- Scores a goal, adding to a record number of goals scored in one All-Star Game (13) in a 7-6 loss.
Feb. 12, 1985 at Calgary -- Ties "Rocket" Richard for third on the all-time All-Star goals list. Richard scored seven in 13 games, Gretzky scored seven in six games.
Feb. 4, 1986 at Hartford -- Scores a goal to tie Frank Mahovlich for second on the all-time All-Star goals list.
Feb. 9, 1988 at St. Louis -- Scores a goal, second on all-time Al-Star goals list trailing only Gordie Howe.
Feb. 7, 1989 at Edmonton -- Returns to the Edmonton Coliseum after being traded to the Los Angeles Kings prior to the season. Records a goal, tying Gordie Howe as the leading scorer, and added two assists to lead the game in points. Captures his second MVP award. The game sets a record for goals scored in an All-Star Game (14).
Jan. 19, 1991 at Chicago -- Scores to become the all-time goals leader in All-Star Game history.
Jan. 18, 1992 at Philadelphia -- Posts two assists, helping linemate Brett Hull capture the MVP award. Campbell Conference wins 10-6, setting a record for goals in an All-Star Game (16)
Jan. 22, 1994 at New York -- Posts two assists in a 9-8 loss.
Jan. 18, 1997 at San Jose -- Plays with Mario Lemieux for the first time in an NHL All-Star Game. Posts an assist on a Lemieux goal. Surpasses Frank Mahovlich record of 15 consecutive All-Star Games.
Jan. 18, 1998 at Vancouver -- Records two assists to surpass Mario Lemieux as the all-time All-Star point leader. Assists on Messier's game-winning goal, marking the first time the former teammates have combined for an All-Star goal since 1983.
Jan. 24, 1999 at Tampa Bay -- Records a goal and two assists, tying the record for All-Star Game assists. Captures his third MVP award. He joins Lemieux with the most career MVP awards.
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