Gretzky Was Magic, Now He Sees It
Gretzky Was Magic, Now He Sees It
If you ever watched Wayne Gretzky – or even if you know the reputation but have never seen him in action – you probably know one of his major skills. Largely due to his dad’s early encouragement, Wayne developed a sense of where the puck was going long before his rivals zeroed in.
The advantages of his anticipation were obvious, of course., probably the biggest reason why he collected more than 200 points in four separate seasons and his National Hockey League records for career points (2,857), goals (894), assists (1,963) and hat tricks (50) are still unchallenged long after his retirement.
One memory in particular stands out for me. It didn’t lead to a goal, or even a point but I’ll never forget it. Gretzky was alone near the opposing net when line mate Dave Hunter got tied up scuffling for a loose puck. Gretzky left the zone and went, uncovered, to a corner about 30 feet away. Immediately, the puck followed him.
“..what he’s got is unique hockey sense…”
Gretzky picked up the puck and made an easy pass back to the point, then left for the bench. Later, I asked what prompted him to change position. “There was only one place for the puck to go,” he smiled.
I learned something shocking this week: that talent for reading the feature has followed the game’s all-time leading offensive player into outlining many of the possibilities in the upcoming playoff series between his old team, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Please note, there is no suggestion here that Gretzky, or anyone else, predicts the future. But several pages in “Stories of the Game” leave the clear suggestion that he might have done it in this case.
The book was co-written by Gretzky and Kirstie McLellan Day several years ago, just as Connor McDavid was establishing himself in Edmonton as one who needs only time (and freedom from injury) to join the roster as one NHL’s greatest ever. “He’s already started to drive the bus,” says one sentence that also mentions Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau and Maurice (Rocket) Richard. “McDavid makes everyone better.”
One paragraph later, Darnell Nurse is described as “a Kevin Lowe type” and the long-ago (much under-rated) Charlie Huddy is seen as a role model for Oscar Klefbom. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, in whatever role he plays, reminds Gretzky of winners like Kenny Linseman and Mark Lamb – who were not fully appreciated on teams as powerful as the Oilers dynasty. “I think we’ll see more success now (in Edmonton) with McDavid at the centre.”
It was equally instructive to read occasional references to what weapons Chicago could unfurl, recognizing the claim by some astute fans that Hawks’ sub-par record should not have given them a berth in the playoffs.
Only twice since 2007-08 has Jonathan Toews surpassed 70 points in a season, but his leadership qualities and consistency are beyond question. At one time, he was the third-youngest team captain in NHL annals, behind only Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier. Early last season, Toews rivalled Patrick Kane as Chicago’s leading scorer but the gifted Kane was back on top by the end of the partial season cut short by COVID-19.
Says Gretzky, whose skill with the puck remains legendary, “Kane has probably the softest hands in the game.”
In addition, “what he’s got is unique hockey sense.”
Well, Wayne, you’ve finally led to the perfect old cliché: It Takes One to Know One.
Glendale Skatepark now includes on-site mentors from the YMCA
News release from the YMCA of Northern Alberta
With consistent fair weather and summer right around the corner, skateboarders, BMXers and scooter-riders are excited to return to Red Deer’s skateparks. Glendale Skatepark in Red Deer’s north side is a popular choice, and has the added benefit of being staffed by Northside Community Centre YMCA’s skatepark mentors.
The Y’s skatepark mentors are experienced skaters and BMX bikers who want to help make sure the skatepark remains a safe and inclusive space for kids and youth of all skill levels and backgrounds to enjoy. They hang out at the park every day after school and on weekends, offering encouragement, teaching skills and providing water and snacks to anyone who wants it.
“The biggest part [for me] is just creating community engagement and connections,” one skatepark mentor explained in a video on the YMCA’s social media channels, adding, “engaging with the kids, teaching what you love to do… just being a positive influence on everyone and trying to make this place a better community.”
The YMCA Skatepark Mentorship program was piloted in 2021, and after a successful season Border Paving Ltd. stepped up with a generous donation to make it possible for the Y to staff the park all summer long in 2022 and 2023. The Y has since expanded the program, and will have skatepark mentors and youth workers at the Red Deer Skatepark downtown in addition to Glendale, starting in July.
Youth can find YMCA skatepark mentors at the Glendale Skatepark Monday to Friday from 2:30 to 7:30pm, and noon–4pm on Saturdays and Sundays until the end of June. Starting in July, their weekday hours will expand to 12:30 to 8:30pm and they can be found at the Red Deer Skatepark downtown from 10am to 1pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Visit ymcanab.ca/skatepark to meet Northside Community Centre YMCA’s skatepark mentors for 2023 and learn more about youth programs at the Y.
Red Deer group cycling across Canada for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Red Deer
A Red Deer resident has gathered some friends and begun on a trek to cycle across Canada while raising funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer.
Ben Pelletier, a teacher in Red Deer, is a strong supporter and believer of BBBS and Youth HQ and decided that he wanted to use his cycling adventure from Vancouver to Halifax as a chance to give back.
In addition to Ben Pelletier other members of the group include Logan Davey, Keith Weber, Jade Weber, Tristan McDonald and Karina Bennett.
“As a teacher here in Red Deer, I have had the chance to visit Youth HQ, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer, and simply love what they do for the youth in this city. All donations will go directly to support this awesome organization” said Pelletier on his GoFundMe page for the event.
The trek kicked off in Vancouver on May 1 and will see the group reach Halifax by the end of June. Youth HQ is excited to see the updates as this trek continues and will be sharing them on our social media channels throughout the coming weeks. Simply go to the “Gofundme” page and follow the group throughout their journey.
“We at Youth HQ applaud the efforts of this group of amazing individuals. What an adventure they are embarking upon, and what a great way to support the amazing work of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.” States John Johnston, Community Engagement Manager, Youth HQ
A little bbq burger dinner to end off the day put any sore muscles and achy bones in the rear view mirror, life is good!
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