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Photo Credit: HHOF

On this day in 1999: Gretzky announces retirement

April 16th is probably a pretty lame day to most people. Today specifically is a Monday, it might be a pay-day for a lot of people, the weather is pretty disappointing here in Edmonton, and there are no Oilers playoff games scheduled for the foreseeable future. 

One COOL thing about April 16th is that this day in hockey history, Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement. That’s right, 19 years ago today in 1999, the greatest player to ever touch a hockey puck retired from the NHL. Two days later on April 18, 1999, he would play his last career NHL game.

Unfortunately, I was too young to watch Gretzky play in his prime. For some reason, I do remember watching his final game of the NHL though. I was six years old watching it with my family. All I remember was my brother explaining to me that the this is a very historic hockey game, and that the greatest hockey player in history is playing his his final game. I was very confused and didn’t really understand the concept. I remember watching Gretzky skate around and thinking to myself: “how is this guy the best player in the world?” … obviously not grasping the concept of age and skill digression.

All eyes in the hockey world were glued to the news 19 years ago today when Gretzky announced his retirement. He stood in front of the press in his black suit alongside his family and Gary Bettman and gave his speech. If you want to read the whole speech you can find it here.

It’s tough, it’s hard, it’s going to be a big change for me, but a challenge and change that I look forward to in the future. I said this to many people, many times that everything I have in my life I owe to the National Hockey League and the game of hockey. It brought me endless moments and memories and great times.

You know Gretz spent the rest of his week soaking in every moment possible. He tallied an assist in his final game with the Rangers and had a very emotional goodbye with the fans. Although he didn’t retire with the Oilers, it’s amazing how fortunate we are to have him play most of his great career in our city. Do you remember watching his final game? Let me know in the comments with your favourite Gretz memory.

 

Wayne Gretzky Career Stats

Season Team GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S% FO%
1979-1980 EDM 79 51 86 137 14 21 13 35 1 2 6 0 284 17.96
1980-1981 EDM 80 55 109 164 41 28 15 53 4 7 3 0 261 21.07
1981-1982 EDM 80 92 120 212 80 26 18 57 6 8 12 0 370 24.86
1982-1983 EDM 80 71 125 196 61 59 18 54 6 10 9 0 348 20.4
1983-1984 EDM 74 87 118 205 78 39 20 47 12 23 11 0 326 26.69
1984-1985 EDM 80 73 135 208 100 52 8 44 11 18 7 0 354 20.62
1985-1986 EDM 80 52 163 215 71 46 11 54 3 18 6 1 350 14.86
1986-1987 EDM 79 62 121 183 69 28 13 46 7 13 4 0 288 21.53
1987-1988 EDM 64 40 109 149 39 24 9 49 5 9 3 0 211 18.96
1988-1989 LAK 78 54 114 168 15 26 11 53 5 15 5 0 303 17.8
1989-1990 LAK 73 40 102 142 8 42 10 40 4 6 4 1 236 16.9
1990-1991 LAK 78 41 122 163 30 16 8 59 0 1 5 0 212 19.3
1991-1992 LAK 74 31 90 121 -12 34 12 54 2 4 2 0 215 14.4
1992-1993 LAK 45 16 49 65 6 6 0 24 2 3 1 0 141 11.3
1993-1994 LAK 81 38 92 130 -25 20 14 61 4 7 0 0 233 16.3
1994-1995 LAK 48 11 37 48 -20 6 3 22 0 3 1 0 142 7.7
1995-1996 STL 18 8 13 21 -6 2 1 10 1 1 1 0 51 15.7
1995-1996 LAK 62 15 66 81 -7 32 5 37 0 0 2 0 144 10.4
1996-1997 NYR 82 25 72 97 12 28 6 31 0 1 2 0 286 8.7
1997-1998 NYR 82 23 67 90 -11 28 6 30 0 0 4 0 201 11.4 46.38
1998-1999 NYR 70 9 53 62 -23 14 3 30 0 0 3 0 132 6.8 51.98
Career 1,487 894 1,963 2857 520 577 204 890 73 149 91 2 5,088