Wayne Gretzky pens new book - 99: Stories Of The Game
'What a great way to be able to reach out to kids,' says The Great One
A living legend, considered by many to be the greatest hockey player off all time, has now turned his attention to the history of the sport he loves.
Former NHL star Wayne Gretzky has penned a new book, 99: Stories Of The Game.
Co-written with author Kirstie McLellan Day, the book details the first 99 years of the National Hockey League's existence.
Gretzky said the book was inspired by his unrelenting passion for the game, and a desire to inspire the next generation.
"What a great way to be able to reach out to kids and teach them things they maybe didn't know about the National Hockey League, when we started and how the [Stanley] Cup came about," Gretzky said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"Because of my love and passion for the sport, I can talk about hockey all day long. And hopefully, kids are going to walk away saying, 'Wow, that was a lot of fun to read.' "
Gretzky said researching the book has only reaffirmed just how much hockey has changed since he retired from the game in 1999.
The sport has become "bigger, faster and more physical than ever before," he said.
"When we were kids, seven or 10 years old, the first thing coaches would tell you, 'If a guy hits you, don't hit him or retaliate and take a penalty. Do what Gordie Howe does and get his number, and maybe get him next shift, next game or next month.'
"That's all changed now. Because each and every night there are 15 TV cameras at every game, and every game is televised.
"So the game now is policed more by the National Hockey League and the players association than the actual guys on the ice."
'A part of history'
The book's release comes as Gretzky makes an official return to the Edmonton Oilers, as partner and vice-chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group.
After leading the Oilers to four Stanley Cups in the 1980s, Gretzky said he wants to bring the team more glory, this time from the front office.
"This has all happened so quickly in the last three weeks, but as time goes on here, we'll spend more time in Edmonton," he said. "And I hope to be like everyone else in that organization, a part of history, and a part of winning another Stanley Cup for the city."