Gretzky: NHL Should Retire Gordie Howe's No 9
The human symbol of hockey's essence has been laid to rest.
Bobby Orr may have changed the game ...
And Wayne Gretzky may have mastered it ...
Dude was a living definition of the term complete player.
Wayne Gretzky wore Howe's No 9 in youth hockey as a tribute to his idol, but when he got to junior hockey with the Soo St-Marie Greyhounds, it had already been assigned.
The soon-to-be Great One had arrived with such fanfare that the coach thought he'd do something to accommodate him. Noting Phil Esposito doubled his jersey number from 7 to 77 after being traded to the New York Rangers, he did the same thing, and No 99 soon became synonymous with excellence.
The NHL retired Gretzky's No 99 league-wide, and if it was up to him, that's the least they could do for his lifelong idol:
Gretzky, of course, surpassed Howe's records for career goals (801) and points (1850).
However, he well realizes that for someone of Howe's stature, those are mere numbers.
Who else in any sport has had a game-defining term named after him: The revered Gordie Howe Hat Trick:
- A goal,
- An assist, and
- A fight.
He connected with every player and fan at every level:
Gretzky was spot on. Jersey No 9 should be as immortal as Gordie.