1 minute read

Wayne Gretzky

Makes Nhl Debut In 1979

Gretzky spent just one year with the Greyhounds; as a seventeen-year-old, he jumped to the World Hockey Association's (WHA) Indianapolis Racers in 1978. The WHA had been stared in 1972 as a competitor to the NHL and, unlike the older league, did not exempt players younger than eighteen years of age from playing. Like the other teams in the WHA, the Racers were on the brink of bankruptcy and were forced to trade Gretzky to the WHA's Edmonton Oilers after just eight games. He finished the 1978-79 season with a total of 104 scoring points to again take the Rookie-of-the-Year title, this time for the WHA. The following year Gretzky became an NHL player when the WHA disbanded and the Oilers were one of the few teams to be absorbed into its rival.

Because he had played in the WHA, Gretzky was ineligible for the NHL's Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in his first season. If he had been eligible, he almost certainly would have won the honor. Instead, with fifty-one goals and eighty-six assists, Gretzky had to be satisfied with the Hart Trophy as NHL's Most Valuable Player and the Lady Byng Trophy as Most Gentlemanly Player. He would go on to win the Hart Trophy every year through 1987. In 1981 he started a five-year string of Lester B. Pearson Awards as Player of the Year, given by the National Hockey League Players Association, and a seven-year run as the as NHL's top scorer, symbolized by the Art Ross Trophy. In terms of his string of successes in the 1980s, Gretzky had no rival in the NHL.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsHockeyWayne Gretzky Biography - Early Success In Hockey, Chronology, Rapid Ascent Through The Ranks, Makes Nhl Debut In 1979