April 8, 1999, making the latest, 1962-S assists, completed its 21-year sports career hockey player Wayne Gretzky
. The Great One. Great. So America is not called more than a single athlete.
For 21 years, spent in hockey, Gretzky
broke almost all records of the NHL - to his credit over 60 achievements. The most important for himself Gretzky
believes the records on the number of points and goals for performance in the regular NHL, which to him for over 20 years belonged to Gordie Howe. Record Howe on points (1850) Gretzky
beaten on Oct. 15, 1989, the number of abandoned washers (801) - March 23, 1994. A total of 894 goals of his account and 2856 points. In addition to records Gretzky
won the most individual of the League trophy, awarded annually to the best hockey of the season. So, nine times he became the owner of Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy, the most prestigious prizes in the NHL (the first awarded Most Valuable Player, the second - best scorer).
to sport were not related. But do not be a hockey player, he just could not. In early 1960, Canada experienced a hockey boom, and every boy, especially if it comes from Ontario, as Wayne
, and Quebec, wanted to get in the NHL. Dreamed about it and their fathers: the profession of hockey has become one of the most highly. Players, . who happen to be in the club "Big Six" (played in the NHL if only six teams), . have to earn per season to $ 100 thousand - or even more, . as, . example, . Mr Hockey, . at that time the owner of all hockey records Gordie Howe.,
. When Wayne
was three years old, Walter Gretzky
built in the backyard of his home in Brentford, a little hockey box
. Later the elder Gretzky
recalled that immediately felt: the game had to be her son to taste. "I have received from hockey great, nor with the incomparable pleasure - the sheer Wayne
wrote in his Autobiography" .- And most importantly, over the years, playing more and more I liked. In 30 years, I even got more kicks than 15. Perhaps this passion and helped me become who I eventually became.
In five years, Gretzky
started playing for the children's teams Brentford. At ten, he amazed everyone regularly pocketing seven or eight goals in a game. On the phenomenon of writing in many Canadian newspapers, constantly comparing with Wayne
Howe. It is no accident. In 1970 Howe decided to leave the NHL in the World Hockey Association (WHA), has just emerged as an alternative to major league. Played 40-year-old Howe is still bright. But the idol of the nation, which he has been for two decades, because of age, and his actions (many regarded his departure in the WHA as a betrayal: chase, they say, for easy money) is no longer able to. On idol pulled a fantastic defender Bobby Orr. But he, tormented by injuries and illness, was already at the end. Canadians want a new idol.
The fact that they will be Gretzky
, it was clear when he spent only one season for the junior team of Su Greyhaunds "from the Ontario Hockey League and managed to score 70 goals. (Incidentally, at the same time on his back there were two legendary "Nine" with whom he had never parted. One general manager Greyhaunds "Murray McPherson went to Gretzky
and advised him to change the 19-th number on any more remarkable:" I think, . you fit 99-th.) Sam Howe made no secret admiration for the talented center forward playing and once photographed with Gretzky
on the memory,
. "That's who will be my successor," - Gordie said after that meeting. Wayne Gretzky
later admitted that this praise for him was the best stimulus in life. Gretzky
would get any professional club. But it so happened that he was in the BHA, where no restrictions for signing contracts with the juniors was not (in the NHL is on the ice could be reached only after 18 years). In 1978, the club Indianapolis Reysers "concluded a 17-year contract Gretzky
on a solid sum for those times - about $ 100 thousand. But as a young debutant had become a leader in his first professional team, as management decided to give it to another member of the WHA - Edmonton Oylers ". Moreover, contrary to tradition Gretzky
does not exchanged for another hockey player, but just sold for nalichinye. How many owners "Indianapolis" earned in this unique transaction, still unknown. Whatever it was, but the transition to Gretzky
was fatal. The next season, unable to withstand competition, WHA collapsed. "Edmonton" was among the lucky clubs are automatically taken in the NHL.
At that time the idol of the league needed a doubly. Creators, hockey intellectuals on the site was nearly empty. Became fashionable fisticuffs, the NHL itself called the "League of brawls, and the characters fans have players with very distinctive nicknames - Sledge Hammer Schultz, Tiger Williams. Cute blond in a very fragile hockey standards physique was utterly unlike the rest. Specialists who are accustomed to the fact that the growth of classroom striker must be at least 190 centimeters, doubted: but whether Gretzky
generally start playing in the league of giants "N Wayne
. Even playing for Indianapolis, he became the best scorer of the association and demonstrated that the physical data do not resolve
. "It's fantastic!" He has neither the speed nor the physical strength, but he is strong! " -choking with delight newspaper. Then there were brilliant seasons in Edmonton ". Gretzky
annually sets several records: the number of abandoned washers, on assists, the number of hat-tricks ...
. In parallel, intensive promotion was a superstar: NHL bosses quickly realized that good looking, modest guy can become an idol not only for young fans, but even for housewives, was never interested in playing hockey
. Journals constant reports about Gretzky
. To make him a representative of the NHL throughout the world. In the early 1980's Wayne
even went to Moscow, where he most memorable trip to the Bolshoi Theater. "Compared with your ballerinas in training I'm just resting," said Gretzky
, admiringly. He smiled. He always smiling. Insisted on this, Mike Barnett, the agent hockey player (at least, by the way, great, than it yourself). Such a policy - to replace the toothless grin of "killers" Bobby Clarke, symbolizing the old NHL, the white-toothed smile - as it turned out, was very wise.
But contracts Gretzky
unlucky. His fees were never the biggest in the NHL. For example, in recent years, Wayne
has received $ 4.2 million. season, while Sergei Fedorov only in 1998 earned $ 28 million. (agent had, incidentally, the same as that of Gretzky
- Michael Burnett). PochemuN In the first half of the 80 salaries in the NHL were, shall we say, averaged. "Laborers" received $ 250-ZOO thousand stars - $ 0,6 - 1 million. No longer allowed to pay a relatively modest profit, which received a masters teams (hockey was still far behind the popularity of baseball, basketball and American football), and the hockey union had not been so aggressive and energetic as it is today. As a result, income Gretzky
, absolutely the best in the league, was on par with his friend in Edmonton, Mark Messier. Second Gretzky
with his huge by the standards of the then 3 million contract was in the early 90's - the best contract signed by Mario Lemieux. Well then it is time the young: grown old Gretzky
the contracts of Eric Lindros, Joe Sakic, Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Bure and Jaromir Jagr was no longer keep up.
But perhaps the answer is that for North America meaning Gretzky
is not confined to the fact that he is a great hockey player. If, say, Jordan - the standard of prosperity, then Gretzky
- the standard of behavior. There is no selfishness on the court. None of the violations of the. Always polite with the press. Always elegantly dressed. His love and youth, and colleagues, and housewives. And especially - advertisers, who were always on Gretzky
delighted and thought he was just a perfect image.
Only through a contract with Easton, manufacturer of golf clubs, Gretzky
received about $ 1 million. year. Slightly fewer ads brought cigars Habana Club (by the way, smoking cigars and remains the only harmful habit Great). In 1994 his income was $ 13.5 million in 1996 - $ 11.5 million. Just last season, he ceased to be the richest hockey player - he has finally bypassed the new generation. Generation that must rapidly increase their wages above all the Great.
In Edmonton, a team that, by his own admission Gretzky
, forever home for him, Wayne
has won four Stanley Cup. After the first, in 1984, he was awarded the title of the Great (in the NHL it is considered that the Cup without even the coolest player can not be called outstanding). "Edmonton" undivided predicted decade-long reign in the NHL, but something happened which nobody could have foreseen. The summer of 1988 Gretzky
celebrated the wedding (do not forget to invite Hou) with a Hollywood starlet Jeanette Jones. And then he heard the shocking news: the owner of "Edmonton" Peter Poklington decided to trade him to the Los Angeles king, . one of the weakest teams League, . team from Southern California, . where there are few people knew, . What is hockey! Thus the owner of "Oylers" hoped to recover his case: in addition to the three players he got from his Californian colleagues Bruce McNally very solid amount (Bruce McNally, . by the way, . recently jailed for financial fraud, . but then he was on horseback).,
did not hide the tears when he spoke to journalists about his move: he could not believe what happened to him had done so
. He anticipated that more will not win anything in the NHL. No, Gretzky
continued to be the leading scorer in the league. But, alas, on the Stanley Cup he had been only a dream. He was close to his fifth trophy only once - in 1993, but then the southerners were stopped by Montreal Canadiens. In 1996, Gretzky
traded to the St. Louis Blues ", a very mediocre team for the grandiose ambitions of the composition. In the summer of that year he signed a contract with the New York Rangers, whose team was too old for that win the Cup. In short, Gretzky
, hockey player from moving to sunny California lost. However, the NHL as a whole won. Let indirectly, but his move has made Wayne Gretzky
in hockey revolution.
. Until 1988, nobody could imagine, . that the American South, . age-old patrimony of players, . baseball and basketball players (club Los Angeles Lakers over and over again become the best in the NBA, . and even the actors in Hollywood has been good manners to attend matches the team), . ever be hockey center,
. At the palace of the local ice-hockey games "forum" was filled to a maximum of one third. Losses McNally reached $ 5 million. year. He was ready to sell club. But the appearance of Gretzky
turned everything upside down. His performances, his famous smile, he was the first season of charmed basketball-obsessed Californians. Get a ticket in the "Forum" at the Los Angeles King, the sole representative of the region in the NHL, became as big a problem as to play the Lakers! McNally raised salaries Gretzky
to $ 2 million. - And still stayed in the win. He signed lucrative contracts with television broadcasters for the right to broadcast matches. They looked in other southern states - Texas, Florida, Arizona.
Local businessmen have finally understood that the South can make money on hockey. Suppose that in order to obtain the right to own NHL club, and want to make an entrance fee to the cashier in the league a $ 80 million. In the 90's began a massive expansion of hockey in a southerly direction: on the map appeared League of San Jose, Dallas, Miami, Tampa, Phoenix ... The owner of "Phoenix Coyotes", "pharmaceutical baron Richard Burke admitted:" Without Gretzky
, I would not dare to start this business and create a hockey club in the middle of the desert ".
. The amazing popularity of Gretzky
has resulted in tremendous growth of interest in hockey in America, where until recently, hockey players were considered athletes, let's say, second-class
. Great has become a symbol not only Canada, but U.S.. No wonder that in the hymns of both North American countries that had been performed on the day of farewell Gretzky
hockey, several times repeated his name. And no one in particular was not surprised that in the final of the first World Cup - a tournament involving the All-Star Game, the U.S. team, "Hockey Canada's stepdaughter, beat the founders of the game - the team Gretzky
. He just made the Canadian sport American.
And on April 18 Gretzky
said goodbye to hockey. What will do next, does not know: "Perhaps, to start to play golf". And in hockey, meanwhile stepped up the search for "second Gretzky
". There are many good NHL players. Nevertheless, after the departure of Gretzky
there is not one to whom would be admired by the whole nation. And America needs a new idol
Numerous projections of the young who are capable of becoming "second Gretzky
, began to appear in the early 90's. Press each year to discover new young star, assuring the public that it was she ever beat the records of the Great. Today's most pealnym contender for the vacant title of "King of Hockey" is Joe Thornton, 19-year-old center forward of the "Boston". And surprisingly. Thornton looks a lot like Gretzky
- fair-haired, always smiling, only much larger. Moreover, . in juniors he played for the same command, . that Beliky, . - "Su Greyhaunds" - and scored almost as, . many NHL top scorer of all time! And Thornton's agent was "a producer of millionaires" Barnett, . who said, . what a talent of his new ward did not yield to the Great,
. In o6schem, Thornton has already predicted a triumph in the debut season. But too much hype, it seems, destroyed the rising star. For two years in the NHL, Thornton, to put it mildly, in no way separated. If the following does not make the breakthrough, then search for "second Gretzky
" will again be pursued.
However, many consider them to be infertile. "Throw the new Gretzky
never will!" - Says Mark Messier, the best friend of the Great .- These hockey players are born not even a hundred times, but once in a thousand years ". But NHL commissioner Gary Bettmen already stated that no NHL players do not wear a jersey with number 99. Wayne Gretzky: the great forever