Never Seen Before. Never Seen Again.
For generations of fans, the names Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky have become synonymous with hockey excellence. In tribute to these two legends, the Hockey Hall of Fame has launched a showcase unlike any other. 9 & 99: The Howe · Gretzky Exhibition offers a once-in-a-lifetime look at the relationship between “Mr. Hockey” and “The Great One,” as well as their prolific careers.
Gordie Howe made his NHL debut in 1946 and by the time he hung up his skates for good in 1980, he was the league’s all-time leader in goals, assists and points. He would play 26 seasons in the NHL as well as six in the WHA, earning the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP on six occasions and finishing top five in NHL scoring in a remarkable 20 consecutive seasons.
Wayne Gretzky grew up in Brantford, Ontario, idolizing Howe. Like his hero, Gretzky wore number nine, not only in hockey, but in baseball as well. It wasn’t until Gretzky arrived in Sault Ste. Marie to play for the Greyhounds of the OMJHL (now OHL) that he switched to his now iconic number 99. Gretzky would go on to produce unprecedented offensive totals and break many of Howe’s records. He would himself retire as the NHL’s all-time leader in goals, assists and points.
Howe and Gretzky first met when the latter was just 10 years old. “He was bigger and better and nicer than I ever imagined,” said Gretzky of the encounter. “All I did from that moment on was think about how one day I’d love to play with Gordie Howe or against Gordie Howe.” Just over six years later, Howe and Gretzky took to the ice as teammates, suiting up in the World Hockey Association All-Star Series against Moscow Dynamo. The pair would compete only briefly against one another at the NHL level, however. In a symbolic passing of the torch, the 1979-80 season would be Howe’s last and Gretzky’s first.
In their professional careers in the WHA and NHL, Howe and Gretzky combined for close to 2,000 goals and well over 5,000 points. They led the NHL in scoring 16 times, were named league MVP on 15 occasions and captured hockey’s Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup, four times each.
Within 9&99: The Howe · Gretzky Exhibition, the Hockey Hall of Fame has compiled the greatest collection of milestone artifacts and rare personal memorabilia, all hand-picked by curators from the Howe and Gretzky family collections. Opening March 8, Hall of Fame guests can revel in the legacy and indelible bond of two of the game’s all-time greats.
LIMITED-TIME PHOTO OP
Out of its case during MARCH BREAK ONLY (March 9-17)! Snap a photo with the historic net that Wayne Gretzky used to score his 802nd goal to become the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing his idol, Gordie Howe. Also on display are the gloves, stick and puck that achieved this milestone.
For more information please visit HHOF.com.
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Contributed to ontariohockeyleague.com by Joshua Dawson.
Photo: Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky first met at a Kinsmen dinner in Brantford, Ontario in 1972. Photo Credit: Brantford Expositor
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