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Albertans celebrate as Gretzky breaks Phil Esposito’s record

The Story

After tonight, "the kid" has no more records to break but his own. Crowds across Alberta roar as an electrifying young Edmonton Oiler named Wayne Gretzky breaks Phil Esposito's 76-goal single season scoring record, set back in 1971. Swooning over their young star, Edmonton fans credit Gretzky with putting their town, and their three-year-old NHL franchise, on the map. But as we hear in this clip, with so many records already conquered, can Gretzky fever last?

Medium: Television
Program: Newsday
Broadcast Date: Feb. 24, 1982
Reporter: Eve Savory
Duration: 0:58

Did You know?

• Phil Esposito was on hand at the away game in Buffalo to present 21-year-old Wayne Gretzky with the puck used to score his 77th goal. After the game, a satisfied and relieved Gretzky told the Globe and Mail, "It took the pressure off me. Now Phil [Esposito] can stop following me around and get back to his business."

• The big goal put the Edmonton Oilers ahead of the Buffalo Sabres with less than seven minutes left in the third period. Gretzky went on to score a hat trick, slipping two more past goalie Don Edwards in the final two minutes of the game. With Gretzky's 78th and 79th goals, the Oilers comfortably beat the Sabres 6-3.

• Gretzky would go on to score 92 goals in the 1981-1982 season, and win both the Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player) and the Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) that year. His 92-goal record still stands.

• In nearly a decade with Edmonton, "the kid" became "the Great One," winning the Stanley Cup four times with the Oilers before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. Although heartbroken by the trade, Edmonton remained prone to Gretzky fever long after he stopped playing in Alberta.


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