Canadian ice-hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who holds the National Hockey League record for points and is widely considered the game's greatest player, turns 50. His fans, in a country obsessed with hockey, can expect replays of highlights from Gretzky's greatest games among the birthday tributes. He was chosen to light the cauldron at the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. Canada's men's and women's teams went on to win hockey gold medals.
Among the best known quotes of Canada's most recognizable man are: "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be," and, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Gretzky is mobbed by fans wherever he goes. The demands for autographs and other favours are virtually endless, and being out in public is hard work, according to his brother. Nicknamed "The Great One," Gretzky was named the greatest player in NHL history by The Hockey News in 1998. He made his name with the Edmonton Oilers, and finished his career with the New York Rangers, playing last NHL game on 18 Apr 1999. Later that year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after the usual 3-year waiting period was waived, and his jersey -- No. 99 -- was retired. He stepped down as managing partner of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes in Sep 2009. Gretzky's wife is actress Janet Jones. (Written Mar 2010)
Date written/update: 2011-01-26