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The biggest thrill of Wayne Gretzky's career

By now it's practically hockey legend. Wayne Gretzky started playing the game in the backyard rink built by his dad. It marked the beginning of the most spectacular career in hockey history. From the time Gretzky donned his first pair of skates at age two to the shocking trade that took him south of the border, we look at how the "Great One" set the bar higher for Canada's favourite game.

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In just five seasons, Wayne Gretzky rewrites the NHL record book. But despite all the accolades and awards, hockey's ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup, continues to elude number 99. Gretzky later wrote in Gretzky: An Autobiography that he wanted the Stanley Cup so bad he could "taste the silver." That all changes on May 19, 1984. The Edmonton Oilers win 5-2 against the four-time defending champion New York Islanders in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Canadians are ecstatic as Gretzky and the Oilers bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada. No one is more excited than folks back in Edmonton. As heard in this CBC Radio report, Edmontonians are going wild. 
• Gretzky later described winning his first Stanley Cup as the biggest thrill of his career. Gretzky would lead the Oilers to three more Stanley Cups in 1985, 1987 and 1988.
• After winning the Stanley Cup, Gretzky said the endorsement requests became relentless. Some of his unusual endorsements include Gretzky sheets, Gretzky wallpaper, Gretzky chocolate bars and even a Gretzky doll.

The Gretzky doll retailed for $15.95. Gretzky hated the doll. He said he'd seen one too many Gretzky dolls hanging from a noose or simply on fire.
• Gretzky was made an officer of the Order of Canada in July 1984. But he actually picked up the medal 14 years later in 1998 because of his hectic schedule.

• Gretzky is one of a handful of celebrities who had his portrait done by Andy Warhol. Warhol made seven original prints and gave one to Gretzky.
• When Gretzky first met Muhammad Ali, he recalled in his autobiography, the first thing the boxer said was: "Hey, you're not the greatest! I am the greatest! They call you the "Great One" but only I am the greatest."

• Gretzky, a self-professed soap opera junkie, made a guest appearance on the Young and the Restless in 1981. He played a mobster named "Wayne." Many critics felt that Gretzky's talents were best realized on the ice.
• He also hosted Saturday Night Live in 1989 to less than glowing reviews. Some of Gretzky's skits included "Fishing With the Anal-Retentive Sportsman," "Wayne's World" and "Waikiki Hockey."
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: May 19, 1984
Reporter: Byron Christopher
Duration: 1:18

Last updated: May 15, 2014

Page consulted on May 15, 2014

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