I wonder what happened to the kids from this picture? The one without the hat went on to be the greatest player the NHL had ever seen, and today somewhere he will be celebrating his 50th birthday.
Wayne Gretzky spoiled Oiler fans for over a decade in the 1980s, and while many of the young Oilers never saw him play in his prime, they should be aware he is a big reason they are all millionaires and should honour his 50th birthday by getting a win in Dallas.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN
***My buddy Jordan has this picture of Wayne in his house. We have never been able to find out if he was promoting something, because there is no logo anywhere. The short shorts, high socks and permed hair is a unique look for Wayne, and one that I’m sure would give his buddies lots of ammo to rip him on.***
Did you know that in 1982, the year Gretzky scored 92 goals and 212 points, he only scored one goal in the final eight games. He had 91 goals in the first 72 games, and then shockingly only scored one more. The Oilers scored 44 goals in those final eight games and he only got one.
Had he kept the pace of his first 72 games he would have scored 101 that year. If you ever wondered what made Gretzky great it was listening to him talk about that season, and that now, many years later, it still bothers him that he only scored once in eight games and didn’t get 100 goals.
The guy was heartless when it came to playing. If he was up 5-1, he wanted to make it eight or nine to one. That’s what made him great.
Gretzky’s drive to be the best made him the best, and I doubt anyone will ever come close to his offensive totals or hockey sense, but with every passing game I see more of that great drive and determination in Taylor Hall.
Hall is a historian of the game, and prior to the road trip I asked him about Gretzky. Hall rattled off all of Gretzky’s greatest records. 50 goals in 39 games, 92-goal season, 163 assists in a year, 215 points, four 200-point seasons and of course four Stanley Cups. It was clear in Hall’s voice how much passion and admiration he had for Gretzky, and for any of the elite past and current players that I’ve ever asked him about.
You will hear many people talk about Gretzky today, and the most common word that pops up when describing him seems to be passion. Gretzky oozed passion and a true love for the game, and he was constantly pushing himself and his teammates to be better.
It is unfair to compare Hall to Gretzky or even Mark Messier, but the one common denominator amongst the three is a devine passion for the game and a will to win.
Last night, Hall dominated the game from start to finish. He seemed to create something on every shift, and when he starts to finish off half of the chances he creates he will be close to a 50-goal scorer. Watching him drive
to the net almost through the net in the 3rd period, with seemingly no regard for his body, and not complaining to the ref afterwards was another sign of his win-at-all-cost attitude.
Hall is well aware that it is Gretzky’s birthday today, and while they don’t have an actual connection, something tells me that the future of the Oilers might honour the Great One with another first star performance. Tonight is one of those nights where the Oilers should remember and honour their greatest player.
Have Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger share some insight into what made Gretzky tick. Hockey players are just like you and I when it comes to hearing stories. They eat it up, they love listening to tales of the past, and when the stories are about the most prolific scorer of all-time you know they will be all ears.
*Today on my show we will have some of Gretzky’s former teammates and guys who knew him on to tell some interesting tales about the Great One.*
The Oilers ended their five game losing streak in Phoenix last night with a gutsy 4-3 win. The Oilers played very well, especially the Hall/Horcoff/Penner line, and they didn’t skate in Dallas this morning. No word who will start in goal, but considering Dubnyk got the win, and Khabibulin has lost ten in a row, I’d come back with Dubnyk.
It sounds like Jordan Eberle might be ready to go after the All-Star break, and that Brule is getting closer as well. It will interesting to see what decisions will be made between now and next Wednesday. I can’t see Linus Omark being sent back to OKC, so if Eberle and Brule get activated someone other than Liam Reddox needs to be shipped out.
I wouldn’t rule out a minor trade happening either.
CAN YOU SEE THE FUTURE?
GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the last game before the All-Star break, and in honour of the Great One, both teams decide to entertain the fans with some old fashioned end-to-end action. The Oilers have outshot the Stars 73-44 in two games and lost both, but tonight the Oilers will skate away with an exciting 7-6 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Stars have struggled handling the Oilers speed in the previous two meetings and Magnus Paajarvi and Hall will give the Stars fits all night. Hall will score a pair of goals and head to Carolina with 18 and put him on pace to become only the 4th Oiler rookie to score 30 goals in a season. Jason Arnott, 33, Jari Kurri, 32, and Glenn Anderson, 30, were the other three.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In his last game as a single man, Dustin Penner will light it up in Dallas. Penner is getting married over the All-Star break to the lovely Jessica Welch.* Penner will honour the end of singlehood with a hat trick, an assist and he’ll drop the mitts when Mark Fistric tries to take a run at Hall. After the game the Oilers will serenade Penner with the opening lyrics from True Companion by Marc Cohn….
Baby i’ve been searching like everybody else
Can’t say nothing different about myself
Sometimes i’m an angel
And sometimes i’m cruel
And when it comes to love
I’m just another fool
Yes, i’ll climb a mountain
I’m gonna swim the sea
There ain’t no act of god girl
Could keep you safe from me
My arms are reaching out
Out across this canyon
I’m asking you to be my true companion
Gene Principe will be doing an interview outside the room, and the viewers will hear the song in the background, and immediately you’ll think that Private Eyes by Hall and Oates, wasn’t that bad after all.
*Penner is actually getting married, I wouldn’t make that up. Best of luck to him and his future bride.