Anyone who is an ice hockey fan must have known Wayne Gretzky. He is the most outstanding hockey athlete in NHL history, commonly known as ‘The Great One.’ With his extraordinary athleticism and versatility, he revolutionized the game. His fitness and speed greatly influenced the game, earning him praises even from professional critics.
He was a born hockey player and blessed with natural hockey skills as he started skating at two years old. So, every player’s career starts always somewhere, and fans are curious to know the career graph of their idol players.
Let’s check Wayne Gretzky’s starting career in NHL, NHL first game, first cup, and many more. It is an excellent story of a glorious career, the struggles, the passion, joy, and a little bit sad. So, let’s go!
Wayne Gretzky – 1st Contract
When Wayne was 17 years old, he had excellent ice hockey skills at the professional level, but unfortunately, at that time – in 1978, the NHL made a rule that only 20-year-old players would be drafted into the NHL.
Nelson Skalbania found this as an opportunity and signed a contract with Gretzky for seven years of personal services contract with $1.75 million. Skalbania drafted Wayne Gretzky with Indianapolis racers into the rivals WHA.
But Skalbania gave Gretzky and his contract to Edmonton Oilers – Peter Pocklington. Then Gretzky signed a contract with Peter for a personal service of 10 years, worth $3 million Canadian.
The Edmonton Oilers then became a part of the NHL after the folding of WHA in the 1979-80 season. But they didn’t sign a standard NHL contract till 1987 unless Peter got to face financial problems.
Wayne Gretzky – 1st NHL Game and Point
Wayne played his first professional game in 1978 with WHA Indianapolis racers. Later, the Edmonton Oilers became a part of the NHL, which provided him a chance to play his first ever NHL game.
On October 10th, 1979, in Chicago, Wayne played his debut NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers were about to beat up by 4-2 by the Hawks, but Gretzky performed as an assist on Kevin Lowe’s power-play goal.
- Gretzky 1st game stats line:
Wayne Gretzky – 1st NHL Goal
It was a home match between Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks where Gretzky found his first NHL goal opportunity. In the 3rd period of the game, the Oilers were trailing behind Canucks by 4 – 3.
Wayne scored his NHL career’s first goal on October 14th, 1979, during the power play assisted by Blair MacDonald and Brett Callighen and tied the game for 4 – 4.
Wayne Gretzky – 1st Hat Trick
Wayne Gretzky recorded his first NHL hat trick on February 1st, 1980, as Edmonton Oilers against the opposing team, the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers then beat Winnipeg by 9 – 2.
‘The Great One’ title truly deserved him as he had scored almost 50 3+ hat trick goals or more. And to break down these 50-plus goals, he tailed 4+ goals 11 times and 5+ goals about four or more times. It is a record that will forever prove a test of time and a player’s credibility.
Wayne Gretzky scored 40 hat tricks with the Edmonton Oilers throughout his career, with the last on December 6th, 1987.
Wayne Gretzky – 1st NHL Record
Wayne made the first NHL record by playing the most assist in a game ever. Wayne’s Edmonton had beaten up Washington by 8 – 2 on February 15th, 1980, and Gretzky showed a brilliant as he played seven assists. Claps!
Gretzky tied the league points with Marcel Dionne. But Wayne did one more assist while Marcel scored one more goal; hence the Art Rose trophy went to Marcel Dionne.
- Wayne Gretzky 1st season impressive stats line:
Wayne Gretzky – 1st Playoffs
Wayne Gretzky and Edmonton Oilers made their way to the playoffs in their first season of NHL. However, they did not do well.
In their 5-series game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton got swept off on three games, out of which are two overtime defeats. Wayne scored two goals and performed with one assist in his first playoffs.
Wayne Gretzky – 1st Stanley Cup
The Stanley cup did not stand far away from Edmonton Oilers – Wayne Gretzky. In their eth season of NHL, Edmonton fought splendidly against the New York Islanders in the 1983-84 season and lifted their first Stanley cup their head.
Last year, Edmonton made their Stanley cup against the New York Islanders but got folded up in 4 games. So, this taught Oilers a good lesson, and they were good learners, too, as they won the next Stanley cup over the New York Islanders with a tight 1 – 0 score win.
However, Wayne was not awarded MVP as it went to his best friend, Mark Messier.
- Wayne Gretzky series stats line:
Wayne Gretzky – 1st Game as Los Angeles Kings
Wayne Gretzky has nothing to do with the rumors of him being traded to the Los Angeles Kings when he and the Edmonton Oilers won their fourth Stanley cup. However, surprisingly, the stories were accurate, and Wayne Gretzky had been traded to Los Angeles Kings. It was the time when Gretzky Edmonton’s fans got sad, and they wanted him to come back.
He played his first regular season with the Kings on October 6th, 1988. And he even made his first game with Kings a Bang! And beat the Detroit Red Wings by 8 – 2. Wayne ended his first Kings game with one goal and three assists. Not a bad start for his first-night game, rather a fine one – right?
He played with Los Angeles Kings to the 1996 season.
Wayne Gretzky – 1st Back Game in Edmonton Oilers
Fans loved watching Wayne Gretzky back in Edmonton more than any other team. Fans got good news about returning to the Edmonton Oilers after he was traded to the Kings.
He was returned to Oilers on October 19th, 1988, but the game was not in his favor as they lost with a high score of 8 – 6. Although he lost his first back game in Oilers, it did not stop fans from cheering for him. It didn’t matter how he performed; fans gave him a Warm Welcome! For them, it’s enough to see him back and stand in the arena. Their hearts belonged to him, and their crazy passion came out in loud cheers and hooting.
Even Wayne himself was not sure about what was waiting for him. – Whether silence, cheers or boos will welcome him? But to his surprise, before the game started, he was given loud applause from the fans and a standing ovation for about 4 minutes during the national anthem. Fans welcomed their favorite star player with open hearts and open arms.
Wayne finished the game with two assists. However, no matter how the game went on, it was a memorable night for Wayne Gretzky!
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The Bottom Line on Wayne Gretzky Firsts
Wayne Gretzky retired from the NHL after the 1998-99 season and got stood in the NHL Hall of Fame players. The professional hockey critics used to say that Wayne had eyes behind his head as he could judge where the puck was. It was his sharp athletic instinct that helped him anticipate the puck location plus movement and enabled him to foreshadow how and where the game would lead him. His great intelligence and understanding of the game made “The Great One” sit on unmatchable heights. That is a great passion and hard work he put into the game.
He said: “a man should follow his pursuits and go where his passion lies and do hard work.”
He was no doubt the NHL’s “Greatest One.” He does not deserve this title, but tile deserves him.