Ice Hockey: Gretzky calls time on stunning career

WAYNE GRETZKY was due to announce his retirement last night, bringing to an end a career in ice hockey matched only by Gordie Howe.

The Canadian parliament even got involved, with a member yesterday seeking consent for a motion in the House of Commons asking Gretzky to delay his retirement.

Fighting back tears and clearly struggling to control his emotions, the North American National Hockey League's career scoring leader told a news conference on Thursday night that his decision to retire is all but final. "All indications are obviously pointing in that direction," Gretzky said after helping the New York Rangers earn a 2-2 draw with Ottawa Senators. "I'm really at peace in my mind about this thing."

If Thursday night was Gretzky's final game in Canada, it was some farewell party. The 18,449 fans lucky enough to acquire a ticket to the Corel Center saw to that. With 4:43 left in the third period and the score tied 2-2, the fans began to chant "One more year" as the teams headed to their benches for a time-out. Gretzky raised his stick and waved at the crowd.

Canadians have been aware of Gretzky since he was a youngster, scoring goals at unbelievable rates. Now, as Gretzky contemplates an end to his 20-year career, Canada is awash in end-of-an-era retrospection, as if this one player's departure from hockey is on a par with the end of the millennium.

"In a country sceptical of success and wary of evanescent heroes, Wayne Gretzky became an icon, for what he accomplished with his athletic genius and, just as important, the dignity and class of his character," wrote the Globe and Mail's political columnist, Jeffrey Simpson.

Canadians know his story by heart, how at two years old he started taking practice shots with a sponge ball at his grandmother in her easy chair; how his father, Walter built a rink in their backyard in Brantford, Ontario, when Wayne was three. When Gretzky was eight, he scored 104 goals in 62 games. When he was 10, he scored 378 goals in 82 games. By 14 he had scored well over 1,000 goals and was a celebrity.

His achievements brought worldwide fame - four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, more than 60 NHL records, nine most valuable player awards, and more. In Canada, his success transformed him into a national treasure. Few Canadians in any field, including politics and entertainment, have ever been subject to such coast-to-coast adulation and scrutiny.

Gretzky's courtship of Janet Jones in the mid-1980s was covered breathlessly by Canadian media, their wedding in June 1988 depicted as the closest Canada could come to a royal wedding. But the euphoria was broken two months later by shocking news - the Oilers' owner, Peter Pocklington, was trading Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. "It's like ripping the heart out of the city," Edmonton's mayor, Laurence Decore, said.

Gretzky wept at a farewell news conference, and Canadians engaged in post mortems as to whether Pocklington or Gretzky's new wife bore the bulk of the blame. Soon after his trade to the Kings, Grtezky made a point of saying he would not change citizenship. "I'm Canadian to the core, and I always will be," he said.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015