Despite the fact that hockey is the fourth most popular major sport in the United States, you could make the argument that its biggest star of all-time, Wayne Gretzky, is one of the most well-known athletes in North America. Canadians loved watching The Great One set records as a member of the Edmonton Oilers, and Americans know him as the man who popularized hockey in California upon being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings. In fact, you could argue that his affect in the Western United States is still being felt to this day with the development of hockey programs which have since produced NHL players.
It’s not just his on-ice accomplishments that have garnered interest from the general public. Prior to his retirement in 1999, not much of Gretzky’s personal life had been publicized, aside from the fact he was married to a former Hollywood (although, that’s a stretch) actress. However, the advent of social media has given people access to hordes of sexy pictures of his daughter, Paulina. She has since married one of the world’s best golfers, Dustin Johnson, while number 99 has another child who tried to live up to the Gretzky surname in another sport. There are plenty of records and accomplishments Gretzky might want you to be aware of, but below are 15 things he might not want you reading about.
15. Wayne’s Coaching Career
Wayne Gretzky owns nearly every record in the NHL. He’s undeniably the game’s greatest player, as evidenced by his 2,857 points in 1,487 games; in contrast, the second leading point producer of all-time, Jaromir Jagr, has 1,914 points in 1,711 games. By the 1998-99 season, Gretzky wasn’t near the dominant player he once was, though he did still record 62 points in 70 games with the New York Rangers. Consequently, he retired and seemed to be done with the game for good.
Rather than going out on top, Gretzky returned to the league in 2005 to coach the Phoenix Coyotes, a decision that was doomed from the start. The Coyotes were a tough team to manage for a good coach like Dave Tippet, but for Gretzky it was a disaster. The Coyotes missed the playoffs in all four of his seasons as coach and only once finished above .500. There’s a reason it’s often fringe players that make the best coaches.
14. Janet’s Illegal Gambling
Wayne’s coaching record wasn’t the only disastrous press the Gretzky family received from his time in Phoenix; in fact, far from it. The worst thing to happen to the family while Wayne coached a miserable team was the illegal gambling ring in which his wife, Janet, and a handful of NHL players were involved. Making matters worse is the fact the nationwide gambling ring was financed by Wayne’s assistant coach, Rick Tocchet.
The undercover sting happened in Gretzky’s first year as coach and set a precedent for how his four years behind the bench would go. “Operation Slap Shot” as it would come to be known, discovered the New Jersey-based ring processed over 1,000 wagers totaling more than $1.7 million in a 40-day period. Fortunately, there was no bets placed on hockey.
13. Awkward Olympic Torch
The 2010 Vancouver Olympics was one of the most memorable Winter Olympics to date for a number of reasons. Whether or not you’re an American or Canadian, it’s hard to argue how good the gold medal hockey game was that year in which Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal in overtime after Zach Parise tied the game with under a minute to play in regulation. As perfect as the ending to the Games was for Canadians, it had a rather awkward start during the Opening Ceremonies.
In it, Gretzky brought out the Olympic Torch in the back of a pick-up truck followed by a group of admirers. He joined Canadian basketball icon Steve Nash and speedskater Catrina Le May Doan at the center of the stadium to light the Olympic flame, but Le May Doan’s side of the torch malfunctioned, leaving The Great One and others standing there awkwardly wondering what to do. It wasn’t the usual grace we’re used to seeing from number 99.
12. Rejected Kiss
Okay, if Wayne looked awkward during the failed lighting of the Olympic flame then we have no words to describe how he looked during a 2016 playoff game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. Gretzky was attending the game with his wife, Janet, when he noticed he was put on the kiss cam, which is the worst thing to happen to the sport-watching experience. However, ever the team player, Gretzky played along and puckered up, directing his lips toward his wife… You know where this is going.
Gretzky leaned in while Janet was doing the same, but she turned away to look elsewhere. As he kept his head extended and did his best duck face impression, she continued to look away. He even tapped her on the shoulder and she still wanted no part of his lips.
11. Trevor’s Failed Baseball Career
The athlete gene is certainly present in the Gretzky family. Wayne’s brothers Brent and Keith both had short-lived professional careers in hockey and his son, Trevor, was an impressive high school football quarterback who played on the same team as the sons of Will Smith and Joe Montana. Football wasn’t even Trevor’s best sport either – that was baseball.
A left fielder and first baseman, Trevor was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of Oaks Christian High School. He had college offers and perhaps he should have went that route because his professional career was nothing short of disastrous. He didn’t advance beyond “A” ball in four seasons in the Cubs organization and hit in the mid-200s with little to no power. He’s currently playing for Trois-Rivieres of the Canadian-American Association independent league.
10. Brent and Keith’s Professional Careers
Trevor wasn’t the only Gretzky to fail to live up to the incredible standards set by Wayne. The Great One’s younger brothers, Keith and Brent, had the misfortune of following in their older brother’s footsteps. And while their last name might have afforded them opportunities other mid-tier players might not get, it certainly made their failures much more pronounced.
Keith, the older of the two, was selected in the third round of the 1985 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He was a very good junior player, but posted nowhere near the numbers Wayne did in junior. And despite limited success in the minors, he failed to play a single game in the NHL. Brent, meanwhile, can at least say he made the big leagues. The 45 year old was drafted in the third round of the 1992 NHL Draft and played in 13 career games for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
9. Support of Harper
The Great One is usually on the winning side in whatever realm in which he’s involved, but that wasn’t the case prior to the most recent federal election in Canada, in which Justin Trudeau became the new Prime Minister by defeating incumbent Stephen Harper. The leader of the Conservative Party at the time, Harper was a divisive figure for many Canadians given his policies and actions, though he was nowhere near as controversial as the man in the White House right now.
That Gretzky endorsed Harper wasn’t such an absurd decision, but the fact he reportedly did so for a pay day hurts his credibility. Even worse, Gretzky, a U.S. citizen, had his ability to vote taken away by a decision made by the Harper government, yet that didn’t stop him from endorsing the Prime Minister. Calling him “an unreal Prime Minister” didn’t sound that great either.
8. Janet’s Pitiful Acting Career
A lot was made about the fact that when Wayne left Edmonton for Los Angeles he fully embraced the Hollywood lifestyle by marrying an actress. That might be a bit of a stretch. Janet Jones was and is a beautiful woman – she did produce Paulina, after all – but she never had near the acting career that you might have imagined had you listened to sports personalities speaking of Gretzky’s personal life.
Janet might have put her acting career on the back burner given she was set for life by marrying Wayne, but by all accounts she wasn’t very talented to begin with. In fact, one of her most high-profile acting credits might be “Girl Goosed in class (uncredited)” from Grease 2. Not the original Grease that has become a cultural icon. Not the second one which nobody remembers.
7. Bad Commercials
No athlete is immune from making horrible commercials. It’s a reality of being a star athlete. Companies want you to endorse their product and often for low-budget commercials. That was especially the case during the 1980s. And it doesn’t help that commercials during that era haven’t aged well at all.
To be fair, Gretzky has had some decent commercials, including the McDonald’s one in which he and Mats Sundin play a game of H.O.R.S.E in an empty arena, shooting from up in the rafters. But his 7Up commercial in 1981 might just take the cake as worst athlete endorsement of all-time. In it, Wayne is badgered by his brother Keith while bench-pressing what appears to be no more than 60 pounds. Naturally, he cools down by drinking a refreshing 7Up, to which Keith replies, “And he thinks he’s the greatest thing on ice.”
6. Reported Reasons for Trade to Los Angeles
While the acting in Gretzky’s 7Up commercial as well as others might not have established him as the best actor in the family (though he’s not far off from Janet), it was reportedly acting which brought about his trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles. Today, we couldn’t imagine a star player like Sidney Crosby being dealt for pennies on the dollar, but that was the case when Gretzky was traded along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jimmy Carson and draft picks that were used to select Martin Gelinas, Martin Rucinsky, Nick Stajduhar and Jason Miller.
Gretzky married Janet Jones, a Los Angeles-based actress, three weeks before the trade. Was it a coincidence that he was then dealt to the Kings? Fans at the time didn’t think so as they blamed the actress for the trade. A Canadian Parliament member even proposed the federal government find a way to block the trade. Yikes.
5. Dustin Johnson’s Addiction
Dustin Johnson is one of the best golfers on the PGA Tour and also has the pleasure of being married to Paulina Gretzky, arguably one of the hottest women in the world and the first to truly become Instagram famous in the sporting world. He truly has his life figured out. But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, just a few short years ago, Johnson was suspended from the PGA Tour following a series of positive drug tests.
He was forced to serve a six-month suspension from the sport after testing positive for cocaine in 2014. It was his second positive test for cocaine after he first tested positive for marijuana in 2009. The suspension came a year after he announced his engagement to Paulina and his actions earned him scorn from Wayne, who reportedly helped him turn his life around.
4. Dustin Johnson’s Affinity For PGA Wives
Cocaine and marijuana weren’t the only addictions that Dustin Johnson had prior to his six-month suspension in 2014. The golfer had a terrible reputation on tour and seemingly still does thanks to his indiscretions and affinity for sleeping with wives of fellow players.
Prior to 2014, Johnson was often spotted in bars near his Jupiter, Florida home and was reported to have had an affair with at least one wife of a PGA Tour player. It might have even been more than that, however. Robert Lusetich of Fox Sports weighed in following the cocaine suspension that it wasn’t “a huge secret that Dustin Johnson had affairs with two wives of PGA Tour Players.” The affairs apparently weren’t while he was with Paulina, but we’ll forgive you for dreaming up exotic scenarios.
3. Paulina’s Partying
Admit it, you were waiting for the Paulina section. It’s probably the reason you clicked the link. And that’s fine. And if that is the case, you’re likely aware of Paulina’s affinity for partying as well. In fact, Wayne wasn’t just unhappy with Dustin Johnson for his checkered past; years before he approached Paulina’s husband about his partying ways, he was trying to tame his wild daughter, who was living it up with no shame about showcasing her body to the delight of the entire male population.
We have to be honest, Paulina’s drinking and partying Instagram posts were fairly tame by today’s standards and there’s nothing wrong with responsible drinking, but back in 2012 and 2013, the partying habits of The Great One’s daughter was a hot topic for tabloids.
2. Wayne’s Reactions
There’s multiple angles to this, but the bottom line is that Wayne probably should have steered clear of his daughter’s personal life as she’s a grown adult who can clearly make her own decisions. Sure, it’s fine for a father to be protective of his daughter, but there’s a lot of hypocrisy in his dealings with Paulina, especially during her and Dustin Johnson’s partying days.
He tried to stop Paulina for posting photos to her social media account, which is about as bad of a dad move as you can get, not to mention the fact it never works. Beyond that, he had warned Johnson that the wedding would be called off if he didn’t clean up his act, which is a reasonable statement, at least until you see a 2016 headline, which, when taken out of context sounds a tad wrong – “Wayne Gretzky: ‘I’ve Told Dustin He Has to Be More Like Tiger.'”
1. Paulina’s Instagram Account
If you followed Paulina’s Instagram account and Twitter four or five years ago, you might forgive Wayne for wanting his daughter to scale back on the racy photos. It’s understandable. She really didn’t mind baring all. Yet, as much press as her escapades received back then, she’s still posting sexy photos of herself on the social media account, albeit dispersed between pictures of her husband and two sons – and she totally should continue doing so. It’s one thing to be in great shape in your early 20s and want to show it off; it’s another to have given birth to two children and still look like a dime.
Sure, she has slightly toned it down, but if you scroll through the account, you’ll notice plenty of photos of Paulina in cosplay, tight-fitting swimwear, and even a photo with Tiger Woods. No parent wants to see any of those.
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