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In Depth: Growing the Game

The Great One helped paved the way for hockey in The Golden State

by Paul Gazzola /

This story was originally posted on Jan. 15, 2017.

Californians are treated to a variety of entertainment options on any given night. With 15 current professional sports teams across the MLB, NBA, MLS and NFL to root for, they still spread California love to Canada's most cherished pastime. 

Much of that is attributed to Wayne Gretzky, who dedicated 20 years to the National Hockey League and suited up with four separate franchises, including the L.A. Kings.

"It's all about the game and everything I have in life is because of hockey," he said.

That sentiment is reversed in California: everything hockey in The Golden State derives from The Great One.

"Nobody probably ever thought that we'd play an outdoor game in Bakersfield in January 40 years ago," said Gretzky, who went from being Edmonton's adopted son to Hollywood's hockey luminary in a seismic trade on August 9, 1988.

Without Gretzky, would hockey in Bakersfield or Hollywood have even been a reality 30 years later?


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