20 Years Ago, the Greatest of All Time Proves It...



20 years ago, on the evening of Oct. 15, 1989, one point shy of Gordie Howe's all-time scoring mark, the stage was set for an emotional night, both for 17,503 screaming fans at Northlands Coliseum and for myself at 12 years old. I don't think, I could possibly forget that night if I were to ever try.

I was really too young to totally understand the impact of what had happened, but the image of Wayne Gretzky dancing around the ice and being swarmmed by his new L.A. teammates after a capacity crowd was heard chanting "Gretzky, Gretzky" at the 1 minute remaining mark of the third period, is an image that as a fan of Wayne Gretzky and furthermore of hockey in general, will remain with me for the rest of my life and something I'm sure to share with my kids when their old enough to ask me who the best ever was.

It wasn't just one image I'd never seen before either, but a multitude of pictures that was a first for me as a young hockey fan.

The Goal

With Gretzky stationed infront of the net and the left hand side of the crease, (something different for Gretzky who was magic from behind the net), he gobbles up a errant puck that finds his stick and before we know it, the puck floats past Ranford for the record breaker, tying the score, 4-4. The fans went nuts. For the opposing team...

I'd not remembered a time during a hockey game (not yet finished of course) that an entire team would hop off the bench to celebrate a goal. Stranger still was that the opposing team, the Edmonton Oilers, would congratulate with the opposing player. Messier, who I'm sure was frustrated that the game had been tied and ultra-competitive, still had to be happy for his former teammate and great friend, who'd broken a record that to this day hasn't come close to being broken.

The Celebration

I still recall the game being paused to give due credit to such an amazing feat. As the ceremony begins, a red carpet is rolled out and out of the stands steps Howe, Gretzky's father, Walter, Gretzky's wife, Janet, and Kings owner Bruce McNall, the man who orchestrated the historic trade that brought Gretzky to Los Angeles. I didn't really know who all of these people were at 12 years old, but everyone else did, and they were quick to fill me in.

The illustrious group present Gretzky with a gold bracelet let him say a few words and then, after about 15 minutes or so, get back to the game, that still had a minute left. Above all else, Gretzky again does the imaginable and scores in overtime to win the game for the Kings.

The Gretzky Response

What amazes me still to this day, is the words spoken by Gretzky after the game in what must have been the most crowded press and media scrum ever, Gretzky said, "My initial reaction was, 'Hey, we've tied it.' Then it struck me, 'Wow, that's the record breaker,'". Talk about the highest level of professional compete that a player can have. He tries to tie the game, before he thinks of his own stats knowing he's about the prove he's the greatest hockey player in the history of the world.

That tells me all I need to know about why to this day, I'm still a fan of the greatest player to ever play -- Wanyne Gretzky. Happy 20 years Wayne.


2 comments:

Being the same age when this event happened, it was like this entry was written by my own hands.
I can honestly say, that if the Oilers of that era were not the Oilers of that era, I probably would not be the insane hockey addict that I am now.
Thank you for this entry and posting the youtube with it.

October 15, 2009 at 7:07 PM comment-delete

It's amazing how one event in time can stick with someone for so long and have such a profound effect.

One of the truly all time great moments in sport.

October 15, 2009 at 10:56 PM comment-delete

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