A look at the colourful past of the National Hockey League from "the Great One," Wayne Gretzky.
The 2015–16 hockey season marks the NHL's 99th anniversary, so it's only fitting that hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who wore a number 99 jersey for the length of his career, should commemorate the event. In 99: Stories of the Game, Gretzky delves into the history of the NHL and the ways that past hockey professionals—from players and coaches to owners and GMs—shaped the league for every pro who came after. Though Gretzky is considered by many to be the greatest hockey player of all time, he's utterly Canadian in the way he focuses on his idols and their talents, not his own. If anything, when he mentions his place in the NHL's narrative, he's humble and self-deprecating. One example: "I wasn't a hit in Indianapolis. I remember my first mall signing. Three people showed up," he says of his time with the Indianapolis Racers at age 17. The book is full of great stories, with an abundance of stats, dates and insider information.
1. When Gretzky was 13, Jean Béliveau—a former Montreal Canadien—visited his change room during a tournament and said, "Don't let me down tonight." Gretzky's team won 25-0, with Gretzky scoring seven goals.
2. In the late '80s, when games started at 8:10 p.m., Gretzky would get to the rink by 3:30 so he could have alone time, drink coffee and talk to his trainers.
3. Coach Mike Keenan, whom Gretzky has played for, would sometimes throw pennies onto the ice when he felt like his players needed a break, because the refs would have to stop the game to clean up the ice.
4. Dave Semenko, one of Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers teammates, used to poke holes in the bottom of the coffee cups in the change rooms with a needle so the players' shirts would be covered in drips.
5. To this day, the only trophy Gretzky has in his home is a replica of the Maurice Richard Trophy, which was gifted to him by "Rocket" Richard himself.
99: Stories of the Game (Viking Canada) by Wayne Gretzky with Kirstie McLellan Day, $35.