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Gretzky Was Magic, Now He Sees It

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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.

Our sports history has value

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Headliners Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki lead the way at Lending Cupboard fundraiser with $10,000.00 donation

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‘An Evening with The Lending Cupboard’ proves an inspiring, community-building event
Special guests Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Straschnitzki strongly endorse TLC’s vision

‘An Evening with The Lending Cupboard’, held on June 16th at the Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer, proved to be an exciting, inspiring event featuring Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Straschnitzki.

“When I was contacted to come and do this, it was a no-brainer given what I do now in medicine,” explained Wickenheiser, who is also of course a highly-acclaimed Olympic gold medalist and author in her own right. “This is a brilliant idea. I don’t know why we aren’t doing this across the country – it makes a lot of sense!

“It provides a very valuable service in the community…if we can help to raise that profile, that’s so good.”

During the event, Wickenheiser shared many details of her own memorable journey, reflecting on the hockey dreams that have been intrinsic to her life from a young age. She then interviewed Straschnitzki onstage, giving him the opportunity to reflect on the Humboldt bus crash of April 6, 2018 and the courageous steps he has taken to re-build his life since.

“My entire process from the time of the accident has made me realize how this kind of support really helps out,” explained Straschnitzki, adding that bolstering awareness about the service is critical as well. “It’s such a great idea, and it benefits so many people. The more the word can be spread about it, there’s even more of an impact that can be made. “Being in a wheelchair these past four years, I’ve realized how inaccessible things can be when you live with a disability, so I think it’s important to raise awareness about these kinds of programs,” he added. “I think it’s a great initiative!”

Executive Director Dawna Morey also commented on how thankful she was for how the event unfolded, and how inviting Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki – who turned out to be a powerful duo – was indeed the right choice. “I’m humbled that they joined us, and I’m also humbled by their incredible generosity – having donated $10,000 back to The Lending Cupboard.”

Amanda Blair, TLC’s Board Chair, said she was blown away by the generosity of all the attendees, including of course Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki – and the overall support from the community. “Seeing everyone pull together just gives you that faith in humanity – it warms your heart,” she said. “Everyone there was also super enthusiastic about it – I think a lot of people learned more about The Lending Cupboard, which is also what we are trying to do.”

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Last chance!! The 2022 Red Deer Hospital Lottery ends tonight!

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Get your Red Deer Hospital Lottery and Mega Bucks 50 tickets today for your chance to win one of 120 amazing prizes, including this beautiful Sorento Custom Dream Home!

Proceeds from this year’s lottery will help secure funding for 83 pieces of equipment for our hospital.

We have currently funded 72 of the 83 pieces, and you can help us reach our final goal.

Every ticket counts!

The 2022 Red Deer Hospital Lottery Dream Home, designed by Sorento Custom Homes, continues Sorento’s tradition of award winning designs. This $890,000 bungalow features 2,994 sq ft of developed living space. Located at 145 Emerald Drive in the new neighbourhood of Evergreen, this outstanding home brings together the charm of a beach house with the sophistication of city living.

Among its most unique features are a shower room – in keeping with Sorento’s custom of exquisite ensuite designs, as well as a functional pocket office that provides just the right amount of space for your home office. You’ll enjoy 3 large bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and large flex room on the lower level next to the spacious family room. You’ll love the large sundeck off the dining room, and the kitchen is sure to please every foodie!

Enjoy the convenience of the 5 piece ensuite connecting to a large walk-in closet and adjoining laundry room. The design of this unique home is complemented by gorgeous furnishings provided by Urban Barn.

Vehicle may not be exactly as shown.

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2022 GMC Yukon SLT

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Purchased from Kipp Scott GMC

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Prizes may not be exactly as shown.

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