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Friday, May 20, 2022
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Try to find out what made Wayne Gretzky so good


“A lot of people came to see Gretzky play. So did the Maple Leafs.”

– Leafs coach Joe Crozier 1980

In 1980, the legendary author Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette could not make out this teenage phenomenon in Edmonton called Wayne Gretzky.

“He does and has done things at a superstar level and pace, even though he seems poorly equipped in most areas, starting with a slim physique worthy of a turkey-in-the-straw description. “It does not appear that he was either the speed or the endurance required at the NHL level,” Fisher wrote.

There were many dismissive experts at the time, even though Gretzky in his second year in the league was the reigning Hart Trophy winner and the highest scorer in the league since making his debut.

Mr. Fisher continues ….

“He’s the original mr. No. has two and a half seasons to equal the 137 points Gretzky scored in his first, and it was only in Lafleur’s fourth season that he scored more than 50 goals.

“What’s Gretzky then?” asked Fisher.

He polled the NHL players to find out.

“He’s smart. He’s as smart a player as there is in the league,” said Bobby Clarke. “And he’s much faster than he seems to be.”

Clarke added, “They tell me a test was done during the season and they found he has 30 percent better peripheral vision than anyone. I mean, here’s a kid who’s not big, who does not look like “he does not skate a lot. fast, and it looks like no one is catching him. No one can hit him. I have to do something about how fast he sees the puck.”

“The weird thing I find about his game,” continued Clarke, one of the best defensive center men in the game, “is the way he can turn and take off. He does it faster and faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. “I’ve heard a lot of people talk about his skating. They say it looks like he does not have the skating power, but anyone who scores 137 points should be able to skate … and skate very well.”

Fisher also spoke to coach Al Arbor, perhaps the best tactician of the day.

“Smart. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I see him. Very smart. He knows what he’s doing every time he’s on the ice. Do you see what he’s doing with the puck behind the net?” said Arbor in astonishment.

Fisher also asked for Gretzky’s own coach, Glen Sather. He did not talk about any skills at all, just his hard work.

“That’s the great thing about him. A lot of guys give up, but not this kid. He keeps going until the game is over. He never thinks it’s over until there is no time left. We have scored a lot of goals against us. during the year.We also scored a lot of points.But it did not matter if we were three or four less or one or two ahead.You can never see from the way this child plays.With others, “Yes. With Gretzky, no. That’s the one thing that makes him so different.”

Fisher also sought the thoughts of grinding defense center Doug Risebrough.

“The biggest thing about him is that he makes goal scorers from anyone who plays on his line. He had a child with him in the WHA during the second half of the season. At Christmas time, when the child was put on his line. , he had three goals.After joining Gretzky, he still scored about 25. That should tell you something about Gretzky.

When Fisher asked Risebrough if Gretzky could make a goal scorer out of him, he growled, “This will be the ultimate test.”



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