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1989: Gretzky smashes all-time scoring record

With a spectacular backhand shot, Wayne Gretzky surpasses his hockey hero, Gordie Howe's record and becomes the NHL's all-time leading scorer. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Gretzky earns his 1,851st career point against his old team, the Edmonton Oilers. As soon as the puck lands in the net, the Edmonton crowd erupts in applause, showing that they still love number 99, despite Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings jersey.

As heard in this radio report, an emotional Gretzky thanks his family, and then acknowledges his childhood idol Gordie Howe.

• Wayne Gretzky was born on Jan. 26, 1961 in Brantford, Ont. He is the oldest of five children born to Walter and Phyllis Gretzky. Walter, who worked for Bell Canada for over three decades, was Wayne's first hockey coach. Wayne has always credited his father as being the most influential figure in his life.

• For an in-depth look at Wayne Gretzky's early years in Canada, visit CBC's Archives: The Great Wayne Gretzky.

• The first time Wayne Gretzky met Gordie Howe, Howe told him to practice his backhand. Gretzky was 11 at the time.

• At age 11, Gretzky was already breaking records, scoring 378 goals and 116 assists in a 78-game season playing for the Brantford's Nadrofsky Steelers. He won the scoring race by 238 goals. That was the year journalist John Herbert dubbed him "The Great Gretzky."

• In 1979, Gretzky played on the same line with his hockey hero Gordie Howe. It was in Edmonton during the World Hockey Association's All-Star Series.

• "I was cheering like hell," said Howe who was watching from the sidelines. "I feel I've gained more than I lost. I lost a record but I gained a lot of friends." (Oct. 16, 1989 The Globe and Mail)

• The occasion was that much more poignant because it took place in Edmonton, Gretzky's old stomping grounds. Gretzky was abruptly traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988 after nearly a decade with the Oilers.

• It took Gretzky just 10 years to break Goldie Howe's career points record. Howe had earned 1,850 points over 26 years.

• Gretzky's record-smashing goal tied the game and pushed it into overtime. The Great One later scored the winning goal to give the Los Angeles Kings a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

• Gretzky eventually retired in 1999 with a total of 2,857 career points (894 goals and 1,963 assists) in 20 regular season.

Medium: Radio
Program: World Report
Broadcast Date: Oct. 16, 1989
Guest(s): Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe
Host: Barbara Smith
Reporter: Julia Young
Duration: 1:40

Last updated: February 7, 2012

Page consulted on August 21, 2012

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