The Canadian journalist Mike Milner, who wrote a book about Gretzky, recalls the time the goalie accidentally sprayed him with beer on a game-day plane. In 2009, Gretzky appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show for the first time, and his answer to DeGeneres’ question about his nickname, The Great One, was the perfect answer.
Not to mention, here are The Times’ stories on Gretzky that span from news of his career to interviewing him for the 2012 Golden Gloves:
The man Canadian sports fans call “The Great One” makes a name for himself as the goalie for the Kelowna Rockets, the fastest team in the Western Hockey League.
Gretzky wins the Anaheim Ducks’ first-ever Stanley Cup and becomes the youngest goalie to be named NHL MVP.
Gretzky becomes an Internet meme when he loses his footing on the ice during a puck battle with the New York Rangers’ Brent Johnson. In the process, Gretzky and his pants explode with bubbles.
Gretzky wins the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers for a record sixth time. Gretzky’s hat trick sparks a 21-second span when he scores each time, and it culminates in the “Oiler Line of the Beautiful Game” nickname.
Gretzky and Guy Lafleur are the first teammates to win 10 or more Stanley Cups.
On Nov. 7, Prime Minister Jean Chretien bestows his Order of Canada upon Gretzky.
Gretzky wins the Stanley Cup again and takes home its most prestigious trophy — the Hart Trophy — for the fifth time.
Gretzky calls his Disney and ABC sitcom, Wayne’s World, “a great time,” and adds that “it was a great thing to be a part of.”
Feb. 18, 2002
Peter Laviolette walks onto the ice, and Marty McSorley takes a swing at him. Laviolette begins taking a few punches, and then McSorley pounds him with his gloves until it appears as if Laviolette has been knocked to the ice.
Feb. 19, 2002
Laviolette and McSorley are fined $50,000 and banned for 20 games by the NHL for the altercation. Laviolette was fined $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, while McSorley was fined $2,500.
March 13, 2002
The Rockettes skit performed during “The Prettiest Ball Ever” at the Oscars is called the “Gretzky Do-Gooder.”
Sept. 15, 2003
In a live interview with Al Roker, Gretzky announces that he will retire after the 2004-05 season, his 17th. He would only play in 46 of the Oilers’ 59 games, and they would finish second in the NHL. The Oilers lost the Stanley Cup in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Nov. 21, 2005
Gretzky plays for the Edmonton Drillers of the Western Hockey League. The following season, he will play for the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL.
Dec. 11, 2005
On Dec. 15, Gretzky and Murray Johnston get married in Malibu. It is Gretzky’s fourth marriage.
Dec. 25, 2005
“I’m sorry to report that Wayne Gretzky is gone,” Gordie Howe wrote in a newspaper column about Gretzky. “Is it hot in here? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the humidity. Let me tell you, it will be a long time before we see another kid like that again.”
Dec. 28, 2005
Gretzky, a partner in the Phoenix Coyotes, signs a 10-year, $140 million contract.
Sept. 21, 2006
The Green Bay Packers take the Dallas Cowboys to overtime in a game. When the referees miss an infraction, an argument ensues about whether the Cowboys are offside on the first down. The referee calls the play dead, and the Cowboys win the game. Gretzky comes to the defense of the Packers, calling it a “stinker.”
Feb. 28, 2010
Gretzky wins the Stanley Cup for the eighth time, a record. The Los Angeles Kings beat the Washington Capitals to win their first championship since 1967. The Kings gave one of Gretzky’s sons his first NHL game, his son Conor said on the ice.
June 11, 2011