Wayne Gretzky Once Felt ‘Getting Hurt Was a Blessing in Disguise’ Despite Playing With a Chip on His Shoulder

Published 01/21/2023, 12:14 AM EST

Hailed as the greatest Ice Hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky‘s records speak volumes to attest to that fact. However, winning the Stanley Cup was the most desired thing for the Great One for a long time. He won it a total of four times – 1984,1985, 1987, and 1988. The last time was particularly special, as in the way the Edmonton Oilers qualified for the playoffs. Gretzky’s contribution to that cause was immense. Wayne’s performance against Calgary Flames after an injury was a testament to his quality. He also had a thing to settle with Pittsburgh player Mario Lemieux. Here’s what happened.

A section from a book mentions Gretzky playing with a ‘chip on his shoulder’, to settle a score. He also felt blessed when he played against the Flames, ironically crediting his good play to his injuries. 

Unbothered by his ‘shoulder chip’, Wayne Gretzky soldered on a team-player


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In the book, ‘The Great One: The Complete Wayne Gretzky collection’, a section of it mentions, “Gretzky played like a superstar with a chip on his shoulder”. It was an indicator of how Gretzky’s injuries kept him out of the tournament for most periods and allowed Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Pirates to get ahead of him in the scoring title. Gretzky missed 16 games on a trot, and when he was back on the ice and things changed during this time.

Bildnummer: 03383278 Datum: 15.06.1999 Copyright: imago/UPI Photo
Wayne Gretzky (New York Rangers) jubelt noch einmal im Trikot der Los Angeles Kings – PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxONLY (LAP99061505); Vneg, quer, Karriereende, Rücktritt, Abschied, verabschieden, Jubel NHL 1998/1999 Los Angeles, LA, L.A. Freude, Eishockey Herren Mannschaft USA Einzelbild optimistisch Aktion Personen

Ever so gracious, Gretzky only congratulated Lemieux for his achievements. But deep down, he knew he wasn’t going to give in easily. Oilers coach Glen Sather said, “Wayne is very proud, very aware of everything he’s accomplished. Believe me, he’s not about to give anything away”.


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In a game that was crucial for Edmonton Oilers to win, Gretzky showed his masterclass. They defeated the Calgary Flames with scores of 3-1, 5-4, 4-2, and 6-4, decimating their chances of proceeding to the next round. After the game, he said, “Maybe getting hurt was a blessing in disguise. Not just for this year, but for my whole career”.

Winning the 1988 Stanley Cup with the Oilers and Gretzky’s legacy in the NHL


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Gretzky may have been out of form due to injury, but his love for the game brought him back to where he was. Oilers qualified for the playoffs with that win and went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1988.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 11: Wayne Gretzky #99 of the Edmonton Oilers skates on the ice during an NHL game against the New Jersey Devils on November 11, 1982, at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

That win in 1988 marked the last time Gretzky won the Stanley Cup, but his career was never lackluster till the day he stopped playing. Although he couldn’t fill the deficit in points with Lemieux at the end of the season (meaning Lemieux took home the Art Ross Trophy), Gretzky won something greater. What’s more, he gave hope to the Oilers fans that any comeback is possible, despite any injuries.


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This is one of the many anecdotes from Gretzky’s glittering NHL career. The Canadian great still holds the record for most NHL goals ever scored (894), although Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is catching up to him quickly. Will he remain invincible forever?



Tanmay Roy

135 articles

Tanmay Roy is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. He has done MBA and B.Tech in Civil Engineering.

Edited By: Simar Singh Wadhwa