The young Wayne Gretzky was already the Great One
Every time we heard about Gretzky back in the day, he was impressing us somehow
Wayne Gretzky was always Wayne Gretzky — because even when he was young, he was a star on the ice.
Home movies, shown in the video below, show glimpses of the superstar-to-be. Gretzky can be seen skating past other players, scoring goal after goal — honing the skills he would use in the NHL.
"For me, I remember when I was six, I would skate eight hours a day," he told CBC News in 1982.
"I enjoyed it," he added. "What I enjoyed doing was to skate all afternoon. That's what I wanted to do, so I did it."
At age 13, he was interviewed on CBC Radio, during a season in which he had scored a jaw-dropping 178 goals.
Yet, somehow, he was still modest about his chances to go pro.
"All I can say is that I hope [I will]," said Gretzky, noting that he'd also enjoy being a baseball player.
A few years later, at age 17, Gretzky would turn pro, after signing a $1.75-million contract. And again, he ended up on CBC Radio talking about his career.
"This is what I wanted to do and when it came down to the actual moment to sign, I was a little bit hesitant — nervous to sign, that kind of thing," he told As It Happens, in an interview that can be heard below.
Asked why he was turning pro so young, Gretzky had several reasons including that he could make more money than he could in minor hockey and he would reduce the risk of a career-ending injury before he made it to the pros.
'Just like anybody else'?
By 1978, Gretzky was the youngest member of the pre-NHL Edmonton Oilers. But any age difference didn't faze the future Hall of Famer.
"At the rink and in the dressing room, they treat me as one of the players, just like anyone else," Gretzky tells CBC News, in the interview seen above.
"And away from the rink, I realize I'm still only 17 and they realize that," he added. "And away from the rink, I like to be treated like a 17-year-old."
A year later, the Oilers would join the NHL, meaning Gretzky would, too.
It was the beginning of a career unlike any that came before it.
Gretzky would go on to win four Stanley Cups and set dozens of records. Nearly two decades after his retirement, he remains the all-time leader in goals, points and assists.