In North American sports, the great players sooner or later find their way to New York. Hollywood makes the movies, but New York makes the news.
So it was only fitting that Wayne Gretzky would end his career with the Rangers. He was embraced by the notoriously fickle New York fans; he was reunited with his buddy Mark Messier; he suffered an injury that appeared to be serious enough to put a premature end to his career; and finally, despite the pleas of family and friends, he decided that it was time to retire. When he arrived in New York in , he was thirty-five, and indisputably no longer what he had been in his best days.
He was the one who was sought out for an opinion whenever a contentious issue surfaced—which it often did in the NHL. It was his presence in Los Angeles that had convinced entrepreneurs of the merits of hockey and had, as a result, spawned NHL franchises throughout the American Sunbelt.
But Howe had earned that title in an earlier era. Now, as the twentieth century neared its end, Wayne Gretzky had become Mr.
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Hockey to fans all over the world. He had set record after record, not merely edging past the previous mark but leaving it in the dust.
He was a child prodigy who, unlike many such youngsters, had lived up to his billing as an adult. In fact, he had not only fulfilled all early expectations of him, he had surpassed them. Strachan has Mr. Gretzky's trust, and they have put together a great book thanks to their friendship.
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The two men weave together Mr. Gretzky's career from his time with the Edmonton Oilers right through to his work done with the Phoenix Coyotes and the Canadian men's Olympic teams. Throughout each chapter, Mr. Strachan builds the scenario and injects thoughts from Wayne Gretzky as they look back on his career.
The result is that the two men weave a great story with new insights on Mr. Gretzky's career from The Great One himself.
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For those that may not be aware of Mr. Gretzky's career, 99 offers a great historical look at his career through the eyes of two men who were there for every significant moment of his career. What adds to the credibility of the events is Mr. Strachan's reaching out to others who were part of the moment. Strachan highlights in the book and Wayne Gretzky adds his personal insight to, and it makes for an enjoyable read. For example, when Wayne Gretzky became a free agent in , there were a number of teams lining up to have Mr.
Gretzky join their organization. It was always thought that Mr. Gretzky would like to move closer to home, and he confirmed that it almost happened. Toronto was my first choice," he told me in He said he was, but if I was looking for big money, it was not going to happen.
The owner was trying to save money and pit it towards a new arena. We said, "Okay, we like that.
Review: Wayne Gretzky writes hockey’s history in 99
However, it's hard to believe that anyone would turn down the opportunity to have hockey's greatest scorer join one's team. But Steve Stavro, in his infinite wisdom, did do that, and it allowed Mr. Gretzky to listen to other offers, eventually settling on a deal with the New York Rangers. Overall, 99 was an excellent read, and it only took me an evening to get through as I was glued to the information.
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Strachan is an excellent writer and he does a fantastic job using his many years of covering Mr. Gretzky and his achievements to write a great book.
Gretzky's insights into each of the events covered in the pages validates the stories as well as providing excellent insight into his own thoughts on each of the events. If you're a hockey fan, you may be aware of some of the achievements in Wayne Gretzky's life, but 99 taught me some new things about Wayne Gretzky's career.