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At what point did everyone know Gretzky was special?

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Old
12-13-2011, 01:49 PM
  #1
SidGenoMario
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At what point did everyone know Gretzky was special?

It was before the internet, before channels like TSN dedicated themselves (mostly) to hockey, and before the draft was televised. I'm sure not many people were aware of Gretz as a kid, and even as a junior player. In the OHL, I'm sure a lot of people weren't buying into a skinny little kid putting up big numbers, and even in the WHA, people weren't buying that he could play in the NHL. And all good players have their doubters, I'm sure it took a few seasons before NHL enthusiasts truly understood that he was no fluke, and that he was something out of this world.

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12-13-2011, 01:58 PM
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popculturereference
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Well, when he was 6, he played on a team of 10-year olds. So, I'd imagine that everyone knew he was special then.

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12-13-2011, 02:02 PM
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SidGenoMario
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popculturereference View Post
Well, when he was 6, he played on a team of 10-year olds. So, I'd imagine that everyone knew he was special then.
Canada didn't know that, just a handful of people in Brampton.

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12-13-2011, 02:04 PM
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SidGenoMario
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Er.. Brantford. >_>

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12-13-2011, 02:15 PM
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gifted88
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Maybe I'm wrong here but wasn't he drawing a lot of attention during his 378 goal peewee season?

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12-13-2011, 02:16 PM
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Don't know, but he was at least 14 when he was touted as "the next Bobby Orr". I'd love to see some older clips about him


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12-13-2011, 02:31 PM
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overpass
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The CBC has some early interviews and pieces on Gretzky posted here.

Here's the accompanying text from one: Recognition comes early for Wayne Gretzky. He begins signing autographs at age 10. He's the focus of countless newspaper articles and a TV special by age 11. And by the time of this 1974 interview with CBC's Peter Gzowski, the 13 year old is a seasoned hockey star.

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12-13-2011, 03:17 PM
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eastcoaster
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I recall a feature segment on Gretzky on a national sports show hosted by Pat Marsden that I think was called Sports Beat on CTV in 1972. I'm pretty sure it came on after the Wednesday night hockey game.

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12-13-2011, 03:53 PM
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Big Phil
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I'd say when he won the Hart in 1980.

Seriously, I know Gretzky got a lot of press as a kid and it was well deserved, but there are precious few players that people assume will tear up the NHL once they get in there. Lemieux and Orr come to mind as prospects and I guess Lindros, Beliveau and to an extent Crosby are players that we assumed would tear up the NHL. There were countless doubters with Gretzky.

Bobby Clarke was himself a public doubter who said Gretzky wouldn't last in the rigors of the NHL game. Many thought he was too skinny, not a great skater, etc. I think when he won the Hart as a rookie people assumed good times were coming, but even then there were doubters that he was a "winner."

But I'm not sure the OP was asking that type of question, so the others answered it well

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12-13-2011, 04:05 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I'd say when he won the Hart in 1980.

Seriously, I know Gretzky got a lot of press as a kid and it was well deserved, but there are precious few players that people assume will tear up the NHL once they get in there. Lemieux and Orr come to mind as prospects and I guess Lindros, Beliveau and to an extent Crosby are players that we assumed would tear up the NHL. There were countless doubters with Gretzky.

Bobby Clarke was himself a public doubter who said Gretzky wouldn't last in the rigors of the NHL game. Many thought he was too skinny, not a great skater, etc. I think when he won the Hart as a rookie people assumed good times were coming, but even then there were doubters that he was a "winner."

But I'm not sure the OP was asking that type of question, so the others answered it well
I agree and would add after game 1 of the 1981 playoffs when he notches 5 assists in the Montreal forum. This erased what was left of the playoff doubters, especially after the Oilers swept the Habs and Gretzky had something like 10 points in 3 games. Then it was just a matter of time before Edmonton won its first cup.

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12-13-2011, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
I'd say when he won the Hart in 1980.

Seriously, I know Gretzky got a lot of press as a kid and it was well deserved, but there are precious few players that people assume will tear up the NHL once they get in there. Lemieux and Orr come to mind as prospects and I guess Lindros, Beliveau and to an extent Crosby are players that we assumed would tear up the NHL. There were countless doubters with Gretzky.

Bobby Clarke was himself a public doubter who said Gretzky wouldn't last in the rigors of the NHL game. Many thought he was too skinny, not a great skater, etc. I think when he won the Hart as a rookie people assumed good times were coming, but even then there were doubters that he was a "winner."

But I'm not sure the OP was asking that type of question, so the others answered it well
Wayne was special when he put his hockey helmet on.

Seriously though Phil has it about right, until Wayne won his Hart and ultimately the Stanley Cup there were doubters.

The Hart erased much of the doubt and even the most diehard doubters had to agree on his greatness when he lifted the Cup in 84.

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12-13-2011, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
It was before the internet, before channels like TSN dedicated themselves (mostly) to hockey, and before the draft was televised. I'm sure not many people were aware of Gretz as a kid, and even as a junior player. In the OHL, I'm sure a lot of people weren't buying into a skinny little kid putting up big numbers, and even in the WHA, people weren't buying that he could play in the NHL. And all good players have their doubters, I'm sure it took a few seasons before NHL enthusiasts truly understood that he was no fluke, and that he was something out of this world.
People were definitely aware of him when he was a kid. When he played in the Quebec pee wee tournament in 1974, it was standing room only. People were sitting in the aisles at the Colisee. Glenn Anderson used to joke that his favorite player growing up was Wayne Gretzky.

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12-13-2011, 08:29 PM
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Iain Fyffe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
In the OHL, I'm sure a lot of people weren't buying into a skinny little kid putting up big numbers, and even in the WHA, people weren't buying that he could play in the NHL.
Probably true, but these doubters were the type that focused all their attention on the "skinny" part rather than the "playing hockey" part. If he had been Mario's size, there would have been no doubters. But since he wasn't physically imposing, there were some that assumed he was too small. Since these people were evaluating his size rather than his ability to play hockey, I don't think they should be paid much attention to.

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12-13-2011, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
Er.. Brantford. >_>
they hated him in Brantford, he had to get out. The other parents were very jealous of his success. That's been well-documented.

But he did have a lot of coverage as a youngster. The 378 goals, I believe when he was 9. The sheer numbers he put up at 14, 16 in the WJC, at 17 in pro hockey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Seriously though Phil has it about right, until Wayne won his Hart and ultimately the Stanley Cup there were doubters.

The Hart erased much of the doubt and even the most diehard doubters had to agree on his greatness when he lifted the Cup in 84.
Gretzky was a perimeter player, didn't play physical at all, looked so frail when he was 17-18-19 that the many people that had doubted him, kept doubting him despite his early success. Even though he was the best player at every level, in international tournaments, even 3-4 years younger than anyone else yet some people insisted that he wouldn't be able to have success at "the next level".

When EDM couldn't win in the playoffs, he was doubted for his leadership or playing in "big games against physical teams in playoff hockey".

In '83, Gretzky was unreal, until the Isles shut him down completely in the four game sweep in the finals. The doubters were in full flight.

But '84 put them all to rest.

There was a lot of jealousy when he was younger. And people, especially SOME veteran hockey people, seemed to resent comparisons to the all-time greats like Orr, Howe, Beliveau.

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12-14-2011, 12:56 AM
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Phil Parent
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At the Quebec Pee Wee tournament.

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12-14-2011, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SidGenoMario View Post
It was before the internet, before channels like TSN dedicated themselves (mostly) to hockey, and before the draft was televised. I'm sure not many people were aware of Gretz as a kid, and even as a junior player. In the OHL, I'm sure a lot of people weren't buying into a skinny little kid putting up big numbers, and even in the WHA, people weren't buying that he could play in the NHL. And all good players have their doubters, I'm sure it took a few seasons before NHL enthusiasts truly understood that he was no fluke, and that he was something out of this world.
Gretzky got a ton of press as a kid. The famous picture with Gretzky and Howe is an example that he was noticed.

Gretzky also had 184 points in 64 games as a 16/17 year old in the OHL and he lead the WJHC's in scoring at 17. In fact he was in on about half of the teams goals and was named the tournaments best forward. There were a lot of great players in that tournament which the Russians dominated.For example, Sergei Makarov was almost 3 year older than Gretzky at the time.

I watched him every home game he played in the 78-79 season. I can say for certain that anyone else who did knew that kid was special.

But even with all of this on his resume, you are right that there were still many who said he'd been eaten alive in the NHL. And of course we all know what happened in the '81 playoffs against Montreal.


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Old
12-14-2011, 04:27 PM
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Haha, this cracks me up, and also makes me feel old! Totally logical speculation on your point, TS, but you got to the wrong conclusion.

People knew all about him. He had loads of hype. So did Lindros.

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12-15-2011, 10:24 AM
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Haha, this cracks me up, and also makes me feel old!
People knew all about him. He had loads of hype. So did Lindros.
Heh. No internet or specialty channels. Newspapers, magazines, radio, regular tv - way more influential than now (and there were only three tv channels if you were rural.) Lots of people knew how amazing Gretzky was as a kid. There were critics - it's a question of how much weight do you give them. But it didn't take a few seasons to truly be recognized and not just by enthusiasts that's for sure.

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Old
12-15-2011, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Phil Parent View Post
At the Quebec Pee Wee tournament.
In the shadow of Grove sutton that is

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Old
12-17-2011, 01:01 AM
  #20
Big Phil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Wayne was special when he put his hockey helmet on.

Seriously though Phil has it about right, until Wayne won his Hart and ultimately the Stanley Cup there were doubters.

The Hart erased much of the doubt and even the most diehard doubters had to agree on his greatness when he lifted the Cup in 84.
Then there was the Canada Cup in 1984. Although there were few critics of him by then, but it went from "sure he can score, but can he WIN?" to "sure he can beat the Islanders but can he beat the Russians?" His performance in the 1984 Canada Cup put even more of a stamp of approval on things in case people weren't impressed with a guy winning the scoring title by 80 points and winning the Cup against a dynasty.

Now, most of us as historians know Gretzky was dominant. But there were the doubters. Dick Beddoes as late as 1983 cut Gretzky up saying he wasn't even the best player in the world, that belonged to Sergei Shepelev. So there still were a few crazies out there.

Now those critics have evolved into the "Gretzky wasn't allowed to be hit that's why he had all those points" camp. So while there are a few of those people, unfortunately there isn't anything Gretzky can do on the ice anymore to silence them. Even with eyewitness evidence of a 20 year career there have still been doubters.

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