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Twenty Years Ago Today, Oilers Retire Gretzky’s Number

It was on this day, October 1st, twenty years ago that the Edmonton Oilers honoured the greatest player in NHL history.

Wayne Gretzky had skated his last shift on April 18th, 1999 when the New York Rangers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime in Madison Square Garden. He recorded his 2,857th point, the final assist of his career, and last the game as the greatest to ever play.

It only took one summer for The Great One to be immediately honoured by the NHL, as they circumvented their 5-year wait-period policy for induction into the Hall of Fame, and immediately enshrined Gretzky. The Oilers followed suit, raising his legendary 99 to the rafters before the home opener of the 1999-00 NHL regular season, and renaming the road that passed just in front of Northlands Coliseum, Capilano Drive, to Wayne Gretzky Drive.

The Oilers played Gretzky’s last NHL team, the Rangers, that night and the two played to a 1-1 tie (back when ties were still a thing).