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In just his second season, McDavid leads the league in points with 36. He has the Oilers in first place in the Pacific Division after they finished last in 2015-16. There’s an argument to be made, for sure.
But the Great One isn’t having it just yet. Wayne Gretzky still views Penguins captain Sidney Crosby as No. 1.
Gretzky, who is partner and vice chairman of the Oilers, was in Florida for the NHL’s board of governors meeting, which runs through Friday. The board is expected to get an update on where the new Las Vegas expansion team is in its building process.
In an era where hulking enforcers roamed the ice alongside the league’s top stars, Semenko was one of the toughest. And he had plenty of competition, often going toe-to-toe with the likes of Bob Probert, Basil McRae and Tim Hunter, who served a similar role for the rival Calgary Flames.
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“Dave will be remembered as a fierce competitor, loyal teammate, fan favourite and dear friend to so many,” the Oilers said in a statement. “His legendary toughness on the ice is surpassed only by his kindness and caring for others, and his equally legendary wit and sense of humour.”
Oilers executive Kevin Lowe, a star defenseman on Edmonton’s Stanley Cup champion squads, called Semenko the “Wayne Gretzky of the tough guys” in his book “Champions.”
Wayne Gretzky had been traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Kings four years earlier, in the summer of 1988, and hockey was cooler than cool in California. The Kings, who began play 50 years ago as one of the 1967 expansion teams, had become the toast of the town. In that first season behind the bench in L.A., Melrose led the Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup finals, which they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes that “the depth of our offense is showing up much earlier in this spring than it ever evolved to last year,” and it isn’t really about the aggregate numbers.
“I think people can put that all to rest,” Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky said with a hearty laugh Sunday morning. “He’s proven over and over that he’s the best player in the game today. And it seems like the more important the game, the more impact that he makes on a game. He’s a tremendous player, and great leaders are the guys who come through in the clutch — and he comes through in the clutch quite a bit.”
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There was also a silent auction. One could bid on, for example, a Wayne Gretzky-signed hockey puck or Taylor Swift’s guitar.
Not even megastars Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan were struck by such pressure at such a young age. Few athletes have lived almost their entire lives in the spotlight. Most were at least teenagers before their athletic prowess blossomed and their privacy disappeared. But not Wayne Gretzky.
“It’s really positive for the game,” he said. “It shows how big our sport is getting and it excites the people in those cities to have those games and jerseys wholesale and host those games. They want to put on a show. In some ways, it’s taken over the character of the All-Star Game.”
Gretzky last month was hired by the NHL to act as an official ambassador during the league’s centennial year celebration.
“I’ve had opportunities over the last three, four or five years to be involved in the NHL,” Gretzky said. “I chose to step back and take my time. We felt like this was a really great opportunity for me to get back in the game and do what we all want to do: win a Stanley Cup. I’m privileged and proud to be back as an Oiler.”
Now he’s back working with an NHL team for the first time since he stepped down as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes in September 2009.
Gretzky was a big part of growing the game in Los Angeles and Phoenix as a player and coach. He offered this advice for the new Vegas franchise: Get the kids in Nevada playing hockey, and you’ll have a family of hockey fans eager to attend NHL games.