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Happy Birthday Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky played his final three NHL seasons with the Rangers. (Getty Images)

Wayne Gretzky played his final three NHL seasons with the Rangers. (Getty Images)


The Great One, aka number 99, turned 55 on Tuesday, bringing back floods of memories from his playing days. The last time Gretzky would ever skate in the NHL would be with the New York Rangers where he spent his final three seasons. Let’s take a look at what Gretzky accomplished during his time as a Blue Shirt.

Gretzky joined the Rangers on July 21, 1996 after one season with the St. Louis Blues (following years with the Oilers and Kings). He would not disappoint the Garden crowd as he totaled 97 points his first season, 90 his second season, and 62 his last season, adding up to an astonishing 192 assists. He only missed 12 games in his three seasons, a clear testament to the type of shape he was in.

He was only able to lead the Rangers to one playoff appearance when he teamed up with Mark Messier in 1996-97 to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite losing in five in the third round, Gretzky put up 10 goals and 10 assists in 15 postseason games. This included two game-winning goals and two hat tricks, one against the Philadelphia Flyers and one against the Florida Panthers.

Despite never lifting a trophy in New York, Gretzky still took home a lot awards and accolades. He was the Rangers team MVP in 1997-98, the Boucher Trophy winner in 1997-98, the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award winner in 1997-08 and won the Rangers Good Guy Award in 1996-97. Gretzky won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1998-99, and was a member of the NHL All Star team all three years in New York.  Not too shabby for a guy playing out his final years.

During his stint with the Rangers, Gretzky was also the team leader in almost every category. He had the most points on the team all three seasons, tied for the most goals in 1997-98, had the most assists all three seasons, and was the leader in playoff points, goals and assists in the 1996-97 playoffs.

The Great One was truly great down to his last years and it was an honor for him to play for the New York Rangers – his only appearance on a regular six team – and to ride off into the sunset at the World’s Most Famous Arena. It was unfortunately a few years too late for the two to team up for a Stanley Cup, but there were still some terrific memories to be had. Happy Birthday Gretzky!

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